Lessons and top stories for January 2020

The first two weeks of January 2020 was greeted with a number of events that filled the newsrooms, newspapers and the Internet. Among them is the death of the Iranian General Qasem Soleimani due to the drone attacks of the United States and the eventual retaliation of Iran against American facilities located in Iraq; the losing of Croatia’s incumbent President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic who once shook the internet for her gorgeous looks and support for football; and Australia’s bush fires that displaced thousands of residents, killed more than 20 people and burned more than 6.3 million hectares (63,000 sq km or 15.6 million acres) of bush, forest and parks . In the local, the report of Vice President Leni Robredo on the administration’s War on Drugs. These, and the others, created messages that either united or further polarized both the civilized world and the uncivil Internet-sphere.

Indeed, US President Donald Trump’s impeachment case was “drowned” because of Soleimani’s death. So is the “looks” of Grabar-Kitarovic because her message that centered on history was drowned by the message of his opponent, Zoran Milanović, that anchored on the struggling status of Croatia in the European Union. Clearly, the Croatians prefer a candidate who is more concerned of the present and the immediate future rather than the past.

The bush fires also led to the rise of people like Instagram Model Kaylen Ward who raised more than $700,000 by sending nude photographs of herself to anyone who donates more than $10 to one of her chosen charities and sends her the receipt. Ward, however, was eventually disowned by her family and was attacked in the social media by conservatives and pretending-to-be-righteous people who haven’t lifted a finger to save the koalas. Her Instagram account was also deleted because accordingly, the social media platform prohibits the dissemination of nude photos.

But most polarizing is the report of Robredo stating that the Philippine Government’s war on drugs is a failure — a reiteration of President Rodrigo Duterte’s claim last April 2019. The President argued, however, that it is a failure because it is a “worldwide problem”. Because of the report, trolls and pundits from both sides of the political fence woke up and started arguing against each other.

In all cases, the acceptance and ridicule of the facts behind those stories depend on the perspective of the viewer. This brings me to a story of former US President Gerald Ford which is as follows:

There was a man travelling barefoot one harsh winter day. Along the way, he saw an almost frozen bird, picked it up and used his hands to give warmth to the animal. The bird weakly responded and thinking it needs more warmth, placed the bird inside his pocket. Eventually, the man thought the bird will just die in his pocket so finding a fresh manure, put out the bird and covered it with the shit.

The warmth of the shit was effective that in a matter of minutes, it started chirping. The chirping grew louder and more frequent that the sound caught the attention of a hungry wolf. The wolf looked and found the bird, took it from the shit, and ate it.

According to Ford, there are three possible lessons from the story:

  • Not everyone who puts you in deep shit is your enemy.
  • Similarly, not everyone who takes you out of the shit is your friend.
  • Most importantly, if you are in deep shit, stop making unnecessary noise and just keep quiet.

Happy New Year, everyone!

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