An original essay

by Edward Fagan

Taking personal responsibility in our own life can be a good and useful approach. It is an approach that can determine and shape how and what we and the circumstances of our life become now and in the future.

This approach can involve setting deliberate (and idealistic or practical) but achievable goals. It can involve deciding on and putting in place, carefully thought out and workable plans to achieve such goals. It can also involve actively working according to those carefully thought out plans until those set goals are achieved.

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This approach is one of the most effective ways in which we can demonstrate our sureness of the value and worth of the individual person.

This approach is also a very effective way for us to develop, utilize and benefit from, our own natural gifts and abilities.

Taking personal responsibility in our own life can have a lasting and beneficial effect on all of the important areas of our life.

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Taking personal responsibility in our own life can favorably affect us in relation to such important areas as: our relationship to God and religion; education, career, retirement, income and finance; diet, exercise, recreation and health; marriage, family, home, property and personal transportation.

The rights and freedoms of the individual in relation to our being able to take personal responsibility in our own life are important. In order for us to be able to take personal responsibility in our own life we must have the right and sufficient freedom to do so.

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The current circumstances of our life in relation to taking personal responsibility in our own life are also important. The circumstances of our life determine the base from which we will start in our attempt to take personal control of our own life.

The circumstances of our life can help indicate what we need and do not need to change. These circumstances of life can be used to determine general and detailed areas of emphasis, specific actions to be undertaken, the order in which actions should be undertaken, desirable outcomes etc.

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It is necessary that we clearly identify to ourselves, our needs and preferences, our natural abilities, our physical resources and other relevant aspects of our circumstances of life. It is necessary also that there exist the necessary individual rights and freedoms mentioned above. When these conditions are met and we get the call to start taking personal responsibility in our own life, we should heed this call.                 .

By Edward Fagan

An original essay

by Edward Fagan

The Friendly relationship is perhaps the most common of all human relationships. Friendship is also the binding quality that is found in every relationship that is working and whose members get along.

Real friendship includes such qualities as understanding, patience, forgiveness, sensitivity, tolerance, kindness, sympathy, empathy and so on. Friends will choose peaceful, harmonious interaction over interaction that is troublesome, conflicting and confusing.

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Practical friendship involves friends performing acts of helpfulness and kindness toward each other and forgiving each other when mistakes are made or wrongful acts are done.

The members of any type of relationship which does not have the binding quality of friendship will experience conflict within that relationship. Those members will tend to drift apart from each other and eventually the relationship will end. A marriage, for example, can break up because its partners failed to be friends for an indefinite period.

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All types of relationship can benefit by having the binding quality of friendship including: romantic, family, workplace, professional/client, business, seller/buyer, social/sports club and religious groups.

The binding quality of friendship can repair relationships whose damage results from the absence of friendship. Such relationships include marriages in which partners are not friends. Members of such relationships need to become friends and develop the qualities of friendship and perform the acts of friendship as mentioned above.

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Friendship’s binding quality can also repair relationships whose damage results from causes other than the absence of friendship. Here’s an example: Mark and David are very good friends; each owns a small building contractor company; an important tender for a contract is advertised; it is the kind of contract of which both men dream; they both bid; both men are interviewed several times and asked to offer an alternative quote; finally, after both men wait with bated breath, David’s bid is accepted, he is offered the contract; Mark is saddened; he gradually ends his friendship with David; David is unhappy about losing Mark’s friendship; he forgives mark and offers him some of his newer contracts; Mark accepts David’s offer of these contracts and is happy once again; Mark’s and David’s friendship is saved.

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The importance of friendship as a relationship or as a part of all relationships should never be overlooked. True friendship embodies all of the best qualities we can have and all of the best acts we can perform toward each other. The qualities we develop and our mastery of the acts we perform when we practice true friendship are transferable to all other types of relationship. We should therefore use every opportunity we get to practise true friendship.

By Edward Fagan

 

An original essay

by Edward Fagan

Forgiving others involves our showing them unconditional mercy and refusing to hold against them, the wrong they have done to us. Such wrongdoing against us can be accidental or deliberate. We refuse to seek revenge against them but may ask them to correct a course of action to restore a state of just behaviour toward us.

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We may, for example, (especially if the wrongdoing was deliberate) ask them to return property they have taken from us or ask them to compensate us for that property. We may also ask them to promise that they will not commit such wrongdoing against us in the future.

Forgiveness is not a reserve of religion. Its principle can be embraced and it can be practised by everyone including theists, atheists, skeptics and agnostics. It also is not peculiar to a particular people or culture.

The underlying principle of forgiveness is good and worthwhile in itself; and it is universal and timeless. When we practise forgiveness we further develop it as a quality thereby contributing to the development of true character.

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The practice of forgiveness is related to and may involve the practice of such other qualities as sympathy, empathy, forbearance and so on. The practice of these qualities also contribute to the development of our character.

The practice of forgiveness and the attendant development of our character can be of benefit to both the forgiver and the forgiven. Such ability to forgive and the corresponding enhancement of character can also benefit all of our relationships. The practice of forgiveness can also benefit the social units to which we belong and the wider community in which we live. At the community level, physical violence, crime and incarceration and the economic cost of these areas of activity are but a few of the areas that can benefit from the practice of forgiveness as it is viewed above.

By Edward Fagan

An original essay

by Edward Fagan

Reducing the current level of praedial larceny across our communities is difficult but not impossible. There are some simple steps that we can take through legislation and its enforcement that can significantly reduce the level of this type of theft.

Our vegetable farmers play a very important role in our community and the wider society. They produce food for our consumption thus helping us to become more self sufficient in the area of food production.

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They are hardworking and dedicated people. They make many sacrifices and often undergo much hardship and difficulty. Some of this hardship and difficulty is caused by vegetable thieves who often reap and make off with whole crops. The thieves sell these crops to unsuspecting buyers for easy profit. The farmer suffers an even greater loss.

We can not afford to lose our farmers through their giving up on agriculture because of this problem; we need to act now.

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We need to legislate for and enforce the following approach to deal with this problem:

Registration of each of the following categories of individuals and businesses who are involved in vegetable retail and or wholesale and who:

  • Produce to retail (Register of Producers who Retail)
  • Produce to wholesale (Register of Producers who Wholesale)
  • Buy to retail (Register of Buyers who Retail)
  • Buy to wholesale (Register of Buyers who Wholesale)

Individuals and businesses can be registered under more than one category and at more than one address and location if necessary.

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Registration of individuals and businesses must include registration of their address and location. The address and location of individuals and businesses must be inspected and verified before registration can be completed.

Registered individuals and businesses will be issued with documents of registration and identification cards. These documents and identification cards must be shown on demand to businesses, government officials and law enforcement officers.

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It will be a criminal offence for anyone to even attempt to retail or wholesale vegetable produce without being registered and in possession of the relevant documents and identification card. It will also be a criminal offence for anyone to purchase vegetable produce from a retailer or a wholesaler who is not registered and in possession of the relevant documents and identification card.

The type and extent of punishment of offenders under this new legislation is left to the legislators and law courts.

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This type of legislation and its enforcement are similar to the type of legislation and enforcement that serve to register and regulate drivers and motor vehicles.

It is necessary to create and share a database of registered individuals and businesses who are involved in producing, selling and buying vegetables. Prospective and unknown sellers can be checked against the database information. Information on known offenders can also be stored and accessed on this database.

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Drones should be used to increase security of cultivated areas during both day and night. Drones can be fitted with lights and very powerful cameras for easy and accurate detection and video recording of people and other objects. This recorded information can then be passed on to the police.

Enacting into law and enforcing the suggestions offered above will assist our farmers in their attempt to be free of the menace of praedial larceny. Our farmers, our communities and our economy stand to benefit when this happens; let us therefore look forward to the day when the suggestions offered above are written into law and enforced to the benefit of all.

By Edward Fagan

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An original essay

by Edward Fagan

Rita, Musa and Monica discuss the subject of “Giving Personal Support” while they wait in a long queue of vehicles at a service station. They would rather not be in this queue at all but are patient and understand the importance of people getting their hurricane supplies.

A hurricane is expected to reach land within the next two days. The prospect of a hurricane reaching land within such a short period always results in a rush to get extra hurricane supplies, including petrol and diesel for generators.

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“I am concerned for the welfare of the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, the mentally ill, the incurably ill, those who are confined to bed because of illness, babies and very small children.”, Monica says.

She continues, “These groups are the most vulnerable among us during disasters such as hurricanes so they need our support more so than others during such disasters.””Our support can also be helpful to them when life returns to normal in the community following a natural disaster.”, Rita adds.

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“The kind of support that we can give as individuals in our community especially to the elderly and disabled can be very helpful now.”, Rita says. “This is so because some of these people are being neglected or have been abandoned altogether by relatives.”, she continues.

“The healthcare and social services collectively provide modern professional health care and related support.”, Monica says.

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“The collective support of these services should be complemented at home by the support of individual family members.”, Rita adds. “Where such individual support is not available in the homes of our elderly and disabled, it can be provided by volunteers within the community.”, she continues.

“Our giving personal support to the elderly and disabled under normal conditions in our community is quite simple.”, Musa says.

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He gives a few simple guidelines to follow,”Care about the people we are supporting; be honest with them at all times; become friendly with them and get to know them well if they are not so well known to us; support the number of persons that we can practicably support; keep a list of the persons we are supporting in our community; and carefully record the necessary information about the persons we are supporting such as the illnesses from which they suffer, the clinics they attend, the foods they must avoid and so on.

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Personal support we can give to the elderly and disabled within our community includes: ensuring their safety and wellness by daily visiting them in their homes; returning their phone calls; talking and listening to them; ensuring that they take meals, take their medication, keep appointments, meet basic commitments like bill payments, and access available and needed services; minimizing their transportation difficulties; and performing chores and errands for them.”

“Other points of assistance can be added to the ones identified here but these few are sufficient for us to start giving personal support to those who need it.”, Musa concludes.

By Edward Fagan

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An original essay

by Edward Fagan

The Stigma of Mental Illness

Why do we stigmatize mental illness and then in an attempt to avoid stigmatizing our relatives and friends who are suffering from mental illness, deny that they are suffering from such illness?

The answer to this question may be obvious, but would it not be better to stop stigmatizing mental illness? Would we not then be able to admit that our relatives and friends are suffering from mental illness without having to worry about the stigma of mental illness?

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We do not stigmatize diabetes, cancer, heart disease or high blood pressure. We thus do not see any need to deny that our relatives and friends suffer from these diseases. Mental illness is another disease like any other; it does not have to be stigmatized.

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Should we stop stigmatizing mental illness, this would allow us to seek professional help for our mentally ill relatives and friends at the earliest opportunity. (There would be no stigma to prevent us from admitting the presence of the disease in the early stage.) This early help could be sought without our experiencing a sense of shame due to the absence of any associated stigma. This early help should also allow the mentally ill the earliest and best chance of either recovering from their illness, or otherwise learning to live with the reality of the permanence of that illness.

By Edward Fagan

 

An original essay

by Edward Fagan

David and Douglas sit peacefully on Douglas’ patio. It is a quiet Saturday afternoon and the weather is fine; both men are off from work and relaxing while chatting in their usual friendly manner. Both men like thoughtful conversation and several topics are discussed by them this afternoon. During their conversation, Douglas raises a topic from a former conversation which is of particular interest to him, “Naming People”. David and Douglas are discussing this topic.

“Why are we given names?”, ask Douglas, as David is about to place the magazine through which he is browsing on the table before him. “I think we are given names so that we can be identified from among others.”, David answers. “In a world of only two persons neither one of them would need a name as there would be no chance of a mistaken identity.”, David remarks with a smile.

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“Are there any other reasons for which names are sometimes given?”, asks Douglas with a rather innocent look on his face. David answers after a short pause, “Yes, two such reasons come to mind.” David continues by saying that “The first reason has to do with an attempt to indicate one or more peculiarities of the bearer of the name.” David then says, “The second reason has to do with an attempt to stigmatize the bearer of the name (individually and or collectively) by giving them a name that is by nature derogatory and belittling.”

“Let us look at the first of these two other reasons for which names are sometimes given.”,  David suggests. Douglas agrees, and David continues by saying “This is not so much of another reason for giving a name to a baby but rather an attempt to give the baby a name which, not only identifies him but more specifically tells us something about one or more of his peculiarities.” David continues to say that, “In some cultures, names are selected for babies based on the meaning of the name and its relevance to some physical or other trait of the baby or an aspect of the baby’s life or circumstances.”

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David continues by reminding, “Remember that the following list of categories of baby names that is mentioned here and used in some cultures is not exhaustive.” David then states, “Some of the categories under which baby names are selected for a more specific indication of any of the baby’s personal or circumstantial traits are: body, birth, family background, circumstances, geography and the hopes and fears of the parents.” David continues, “Here also are some examples of names, with their meaning given after them, that are chosen for the relevance of their meaning to personal or circumstantial traits of the baby: Ham (black) Augustus (born in August) Moses (drawn from the water) Omar (first born) Muhammad (most praised one).”

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“Now let us look at the second of these two other reasons for which names are sometimes given.”, David remarks. He takes a sip of a glass of orange juice which he is served by Douglas. Douglas clears his throat and nods in agreement. David continues by saying, “This second reason for giving a name is not like the first reason in that it can sometimes be a bad reason. The reasons for giving names in this case are often to derogate and belittle the bearer of the name. Such derogatory and belittling names are given to groups and individuals in order to stigmatize them.”

David continues by saying that, “Names only identify a person, they do not shape or mold him. They do not determine how or what a person is; and they do not determine the choices a person makes or the outcome of those choices.” Pausing for a sip of orange juice, David then continues, “Derogatory names are no exception to this rule even though they sometimes succeed in stigmatizing the bearer of them.”

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Douglas shakes his head in agreement and softly taps the top of the table with his right index finger, before he says, “I could not agree with you more.” Douglas then pauses shortly before continuing to say, “Names do not make us, character does. Stigmatization gradually disappears when character appears. Stigmatized persons only need to show true character.” Douglas continues, “Where character has lapsed it must be revived. Where it never existed, it must be developed. Some of the basic areas of activity for practice of characterful development are: willingness to live with others harmoniously, honesty, truthfulness, forgiveness, empathy and general outgoing care and concern for others.” Douglas continues by saying, ” Setting worthwhile goals to be pursued is the next step that should be taken by the stigmatized person. It should also be noted that when persons of character work hard toward achieving lofty goals, they almost always achieve such goals.”

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Douglas pauses briefly after speaking, then gets up and clears the table of the remaining orange juice and the drinking glasses which were used earlier by both men; he takes them into the kitchen. In Douglas’ absence, David gets up and walks slowly toward the rear outer edge of the patio and surveys the surrounding area and the sky. Returning to the table on Douglas’ return from the kitchen, David says, “It is almost dusk. I shall stay for the evening news then I shall be going.” The evening news begins at seven o’ clock. After a short period of silence, both men join Douglas’ beautiful wife in the living room where she is sitting while awaiting the start of the evening news. The evening news ends an hour later and David departs for home after thanking Douglas for a good conversation and his friendly presence; and after thanking Douglas’ wife for welcoming him as their guest.

By Edward Fagan

  

An original essay

by Edward Fagan

Every once in awhile I become involved in a conversation with friends or relatives about the behaviour (usually of a habitual and undesirable kind) of a child or adolescent about whom we care and the question always arises as to who or what is the cause of that behaviour.

My friends and relatives almost always hold the view that the blame is to be placed solely on the shoulders of someone else (for example, the influence from others, peer pressure) or something else (for example, the lack of money or other physical possession). I almost always hold the view that their position is a mistaken one.

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Are people born with any tendencies or potential to develop any tendencies that will later result in or influence the nature of their actions, preferences, likes, dislikes and so on as they develop and mature toward adulthood; or are they born as a blank slate, without any such tendencies or potential to develop any such tendencies?

The answer to the first part of that question seems to be yes, the answer to the second part seems therefore to be no. Such tendencies, actual or potential and so on are sometimes visibly seen displayed in the behaviour of some very small children and even babies.

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As they grow older and mature toward adulthood, such behaviour in those very small children and babies not only remains consistent throughout their development but also becomes more and more pronounced as time passes.

Since that is the case, we can also safely say that in order for something to develop and mature, that-something must first exist, if only as a seed from which the final result will develop.

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Here are two good examples that seem to show the correctness of the answers given to the double question that is asked above. This is the first example: the very first time I heard classical music (I was a very small child who was at the stage of development that allowed him to be able to appreciate music.) I liked it.

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It was heard from a neighbour’s radio. Prior to, and at that moment I had never seen anyone anywhere listening to or showing any kind of appreciation for classical music. (I actually grew up in a home that did not have a radio, television or any other type of audio-visual equipment for the first eighteen years of my life.

That experience, by the way, was without any regret as I had access to a world of great books.) My love for classical music became deeper and more sophisticated with time as I matured and grew older.

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The second example is: I started sucking my right index finger and the one next to it at birth (They probably were being sucked even before birth.) and continued to suck them until age eleven. There could not have been any ‘external influence’ acting on and influencing me to start and continue sucking my fingers in this case.

There also is the question of choice. We are free to choose between following our natural born-with tendencies that incline our behaviour toward a certain direction, and following other courses of action (either internally or ‘externally’ motivated) temporarily or permanently.

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(Here is an example of this point: when I stop sucking my index and other fingers after doing so for eleven years as mentioned above, I resisted a born-with tendency and practice for their opposite course of action. That opposite course of action was internally motivated, I decided finger-sucking was not the best practice to keep, and that opposite course of action, giving up finger-sucking, was also permanent.)

Given what has been said above, it therefore seems truthful to say that we are not born as blank slates but with tendencies that influence and shape our behaviour even though we can resist these tendencies and act contrary to them if we so desire.

By Edward Fagan

 

An original essay

by Edward Fagan

The problems experienced by African-descended people cannot all be attributed to their enslavement by others; those problems also can not be blamed totally on any racial discrimination that continued after the abolition of slavery.

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It is clear that the choices made by Africans in the various areas of national development, from the beginning and continuing through time, did not serve their national development interests. The choices they made contributed to their becoming seriously disadvantaged in all areas of national development, including social, economic, political, military and other forms of development. (Two examples of the point made above is that, during and after the Bronze and Iron Ages and well after the industrial revolution, Africans continued to fight with wooden weapons. Africans also never established and maintained clearly defined, tribal/national borders.) Later, the failure of Africans to achieve a significant level of development in those areas mentioned above not only placed them at a disadvantage but was successfully exploited by others in their quest to enslave and colonize Africans.

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In order to achieve an appropriate level of development in the important areas of life that meets the needs of African people (on the African continent and elsewhere) African people firstly must admit that they still contribute to their current plight by continuing to think and behave in relation to national development as they did prior to their enslavement and colonization. (An example of this point is the non-existence, both before slavery and after its abolition, of: long-term economic and other planning, an infrastructure for economic and other development including complex systems for, tribal/national financial accounting, large scale agricultural production, extensive land and sea communications, inter-tribal/national commerce and trade, and tax revenue generation, to name a few.)

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African people secondly must create a body of experts for the long term planning of all aspects of development and create an infrastructure for the implementation of the long term development plans of that body.  They also need to realize that because of the non-existence of fundamental and long-term developmental planning and an infrastructure for economic and other development as mentioned above, the changes made and the progress achieved since abolition, colonization and independence are always going to be superficial, fragile and of a relatively short-term duration.

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It is necessary too, that Africans identify the changes in their thinking and behaviour they are required to make at the personal level (both individually and collectively) that will contribute to their personal development and achievement. They must understand the close interconnection between and interdependence of personal development and achievement and the common good; they must therefore personally commit to the common good. This personal commitment to the common good must include understanding the importance of, and practical commitment to moral values (especially the value of honesty, which is necessary for the reduction of certain crimes and the elimination of corruption). Without upholding these moral values in practice, there can be no real development, national or personal.

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The history of the African people prior to their enslavement took the unfortunate turn that it did and continued along that path because Africans failed (for whatever reasons) to follow certain courses of action, to create certain institutions and to adopt certain corrective measures, of which some are mentioned below:

A strong sense of identity of ethnicity and race: Ethnic groups (nations) never took themselves seriously as nations and, consequently, as preservers and defenders of their race.

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Strong, ethnocentric political ruler-ship, sense of absoluteness (sense of relationship of rulers and people to God); know importance of role in, and purpose of, leadership; development or borrowing of efficient and effective political, military, legal and economic systems: they fell very short in these areas but could have borrowed ideas and practices from others, as other races have done. (Example, Africans fought with wooden weapons far too long, up to, during and after the colonial period.)

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Identification and preservation of ethnic legacy, heritage, culture, history, language (Realize importance of creating or borrowing alphabet, grammar, literary tradition) They failed miserably in these areas also, but again, could have borrowed from the other races. (Example, Africans did not create or borrow any alphabet or grammar, their languages did not develop and they remained non literate.)

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A Permanent commitment to establishment and preservation of tribal/national homelands (realize importance of patriotism, nationalism) they failed here totally, too, but could have adopted the better approach of other peoples. (Example, Africans failed to establish and maintain clearly defined tribal/national borders.)

It is hopeful, but not expected in several generations to come, that Africans on the continent and in the diaspora will make the changes suggested above and below for the alleviation of many of the problems from which they are suffering.

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The democratic political system with its various institutions and checks and balances for the prevention of abuse, corruption etc, though not faultless, is second to none; and its accompanying capitalist economic system, though not faultless likewise, is also second to none. The principal and outstanding feature of this twin system is the freedoms it affords the societies who adopt it and those freedoms include freedom to choose which development goals to pursue, and freedom to determine how and when to pursue those development goals. This democratic-capitalist system then, would seem to be the ideal system for African societies.

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That salient feature of the democratic-capitalist system, freedom to choose (in politics, in the economy and in other areas of societal life, within the law) is the very reason why the democratic-capitalist system is not the ideal system for development in African societies. African societies, when left free to choose between development and underdevelopment always choose the latter, some evidence is given above to support this position.

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What then is the solution to the problems of African tribes/nations’ persistent underdevelopment and their constant refusal to freely work toward achieving development?  The solution is one that has never been tried before, and one that will never be tried at anytime soon by any African tribe/nation. The solution is a two sided system comprising of a political dictatorship and a non-political, central, economic and social planning body. A sensible, efficient and effective political dictatorship will manage only the political affairs of the tribe/nation; and an independent, non-political, central planning body of experts will formulate economic and social policy; the economic and social policy will then be implemented by the various parts of a well developed and extensive economic and social infrastructure as planned.

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(The standard used by this writer throughout this observation to measure the performance within various areas of activity of the African tribes/nations is met by Biblical Israel and Historical Germany.)

By Edward Fagan

An original essay

By Edward Fagan

The United States and other western nations should not allow entry into their countries, much less grant asylum to, any of the mass of people fleeing Syria and other regional countries, except for members of the Peshmerga and other ethnic Kurdish groups, and members of the Syrian and other regional Judeo-Christian communities.

It is important to note that all persons fleeing Syria and neighbouring countries are not refugees; many are mere opportunists seeking to take advantage of a situation that allows them a chance to settle in a country that offers an easier way of life and a higher standard of living.

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There also is the prospect of ISIS supporters posing as refugees, and joining the refugee mass and entering unsuspecting countries to carry out attacks later. There have been suspected cases of the occurrence of that situation, even recently, in Europe.

There also is the possibility that in the future, some of these same so called refugees or their offspring might become radicalized and take up arms on behalf of ISIS in the country where they have settled.

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What then is the alternative to allowing entry to those fleeing the crisis, and granting them temporary or permanent settlement? The United States and other western nations could encourage the Muslim countries in the region to accept the refugees into their countries for temporary or permanent settlement. This encouragement could be at all levels and could include linking the acceptance of refugees by the Muslim countries of the region to the granting of aid to those countries by the United States and western nations.

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When the Muslim countries agree to accept the refugees, the United States and other western nations could then commit the money and other resources they currently use to settle refugees within their borders, to be donated as aid to those Muslim countries who agree to accept the refugees. That aid could then be requested by those Muslim countries who accept the refugees, according to the needs of each country, in the form of money, shipping, air transport, personnel, technical and military assistance, various types of equipment, information technology, data, advice and other forms of assistance that might be considered necessary for the safe and trouble free transport of the refugees to, and settlement and temporary maintenance of the refugees in, those Muslim countries who accept them.

By Edward Fagan