Re:Re:Re:Thoughts on ChangeSeptember 29 2003 at 5:04 PM
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Response to Re: Re: Thoughts on Change
(Hey, dont stop dreaming. Thats the stuff of life)
Those who dream are in very good company, don’t you worry. These luminaries include no less persons than the likes of Martin Luther King (who is credited with the phrase ‘I have a dream’), Nelson Mandela and Lee Kwan Yew, just to name a few. Without doubt ‘where there is no vision, the people perish’. Anyway just a short response as clarification:
Re: Culture and development
There is no doubt that there is much that is good in our culture and I can not dispute that. I started on the premise that culture is not static and like many things is (are) constantly evolving ie the past is no guarantee to the future. The unexpected is bound to arise. Culture while both pervasive and elusive is described as ‘a collective programming of mind involving patterned ways of thinking feeling and behaving in different situations. It’s a lens through which we view the world. Granted, what we call PNG culture, or for that matter culture of any ethnic group in PNG, is and more likely to become a ‘mix and match’ affair. This is due to many factors, some of which include intermarriage, education, the influence of public media etc. A case in the point; the highlanders have taken to buai with such enthusiasm that often leaves the coastal people more than a little bewildered sometimes.
It is my concern however that while trawling our past for that which is good, we do not become locked in and indiscriminately take on board everything simply because that’s what our ancestors did. Our ancestors lived in a totally different world and if they were brought back from their graves today I think it would give them a shock. Of course our culture must inform, but it should not unduly influence us to the point where we can do nothing without consulting it. We need to question the underlying assumptions on which we have done things (actions), or have been (attitudes), so as to be able to discern between what behaviour/attitude is contextually correct and what is not. If practising them puts us out of sync with others, then lets have the courage of our conviction to say; no, that’s not appropriate behaviour/attitude. And there are many aspects in our ethnic and national culture that I believe we carry as excess baggage. Each of us is aware of these aspects of our cultural selves, which perhaps in our quite moments thrust themselves into our conscience as inappropriate; perhaps even obnoxious. As for your question ‘ how do you cull or purge?’ my answer is simple: one is through self-censorship/restraint and secondly by having these reinforced by people whom we view as icons, live this out in their lives. For instance those who are comfortable in the world of ideas and men would choose to refrain from chewing buai because it is just not the right thing to do if one is presenting a paper or discussing an idea. And if someone like Marcus Bai decides that buai is not for him it soon gets reinforced and the habit loses its hold. The flow on benefits are quite obvious: no buai breaks so hopefully productivity increases, a cleaner dwellings, buai expense account becomes expense account for something tangible and beneficial, incidence of mouth and gum cancer drops, attractive places for tourist to visit etc. No, I am not knocking buai and buai chewers, I am just using it as an example of parts of our culture, which seems to me to have no other rational basis, other than cultural.
Re: Agriculture, Medicinal Plant Industry, Information technology and Biotechnology,
That’s the order I would choose as a path to growth and development.
PNG does not have to follow the classical development path ie agrarian to industrial to information or knowledge society. In mature economies as well those that are classed as emerging or developing, there is a striving to be acknowledged as knowledge based society because in the current global scenario; resources do not necessarily confer comparative advantage. Knowledge is power and knowledge confers competitive advantage because it drives innovation! Some countries like the oil rich countries in the middle- east have been transformed within a space of a few short years from feudal fiefdoms to countries enjoying enviable standards of living. These are all out to use their oil wealth to strategically position themselves to take advantage of the new global order. If PNG could have one resource like that, (rightly exploited and the benefits equitably distributed), it could short cut the development route and catapult the country into the knowledge/information age. The opportunities are limitless. The buzzword these days is knowledge capital. That unfortunately requires massive investment in human capital (education) and R&D. Any resource that through its exploitation would become the launching pad to fast track eduction and training would without doubt be considered godsend. Without an educated manpower we will always lag.
As a small postscript to this: Medicinal plant industry is the only industry which looks promising to me : it is sustainable, low tech, confers monopolistic status
PPS: hope we we'll continue the thread.