In 2011, Hillary Rodham Clinton, then United States Secretary of State, visited Zambia. I wrote about her in relation to some key challenges facing humanity and human relations.
Hillary Clinton, in whom many of us have for long been well pleased, has just had official endorsement as Democratic Party’s 2016 US presidential election candidate.
Of course, I differ with her on events of Libya and Syria. Unlike persons like John McCain and Sister Hillary Clinton and Bernard-Henri Levy, I believe that President Barack Obama did the right thing not to directly invade and strike Syria. If more armed pressure had been made on Syria and Assad had fallen, ISIS would have risen earlier and things would have been worse now.
On Libya, I believe, then as now, that Barack Obama, reluctant at first, should not have allowed himself to join France warlord Nicolas Sarkozy and others to invade Libya and destroy Muammar Qaddafi, leading to the chaos that will be with us for long. Western support for armed rebels in Libya and Syria, as the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, has created difficulties and some instability for the whole world, including Western societies.
And in the view of many of us in various parts of the world, Hillary Clinton will definitely make a good president for the United States. The rule of Barack Obama has dignified America in the world and managed to make many outside the United States appreciate the projection of a United States that has a more friendly and humane nature, a society that is surely a close family member of humanity rather than its boss and bully and actor for the Superpower idea, “Superpower” being a myth that cannot be achieved in nature by any government or group.
Hillary Clinton would more likely continue the improvement of human relations than, say, a person like Donald Trump, a personality that may lead to increased tension and division in human relations. Already, Hillary Clinton has made some remarkable contributions to the Common Good. More good than bad will arise from Hillary Clinton’s rule.
Here, I reproduce, courtesy Post Newspaper, Lusaka, the piece published on my then “Another View” column in the Post of Saturday June 18, 2011:
Mama Hillary Clinton’s Challenge
“ALL too often, we were doing programs that continued year after year, and we, frankly, did too much of the talking and not enough of the listening, ”said Mama Hillary Rodham Clinton, USA Secretary of State, in our city Lusaka, Friday, June 10, 2011. She was closing the AGOA, African Growth and Opportunities Act countries, forum.
She observed that, “despite the best of intentions, for too long, in too much of our development work, the United States was not focused on the kind of partnerships that should be at the root of development,”
And Mrs Hillary Clinton said the United States administration of Barrack Obama aims to be more sensitive.
“In this Administration,” said she, “We have embarked on a new way of doing business.” And, “Our approach is based on partnership, not patronage.”
Also, “Ultimately, it is aimed at helping developing countries chart their own futures and, frankly, end the need for aid at all.”
Sister Hillary Clinton’s words in Lusaka highlight some key problems in human relations and development. These issues face not only people in USA and Africa relations, but governments and persons all over the world. It is about patronage or true partnership.
Problems of patronising attitudes and practices affect various fields. Besides the social development field, in politics example is the George W Bush administration’s March 2003 invasion of Iraq. The results of the invasion continue to affect not only the United States and the Middle East, but all of us, worldwide. Tensions increased.
Before invasion, the Bush regime had been cautioned, by many worldwide, of unjustness of the actions and the likely negative effects. These came to pass. Even now, clearly, instead of using the United Nations system to broker peace, in Libya the current external governments’ military role, which does not meet “just war” criteria, will bear huge negative effects worldwide. The war lord attitude has not been restricted to Bush rule.
But in development, trade and business, civil society, and other fields, actions arising from the patronage mindset are still with us.
Apart from other variations in nature, human variation is noted in issues like skin colour, being male or female, religion, ethnic link, culture, language, nationality and citizenship, and location.
Variation in many aspects of the world contributes towards a more whole earth and life. That there is variation on earth is great resource for us to learn and grow from many angles. This variation actively contributes to the making of the whole and the balance of that whole.
Each individual part is unique and gifted. Each we must appreciate. I believe that none is inherently superior or inferior by being born in some particular community. I believe a person born in the deserts of Africa can learn to fly a Boeing 747 while a person born in the skyscrapers of Manhattan can learn to live well in a desert.
We need to open ourselves to other persons. There is no stranger in the world. And the earth being circular, each point of the world is the centre of the world. Each individual or place is important for the maintenance of the whole world. Wherever you are is the centre of the world.
And wherever each person is, they must actively contribute their skills, experiences, and thoughts. A problem is when we are doing “too much of the talking and not enough of the listening.” This has meant closing, or limiting, ourselves off from the skills and experiences of others.
Often projects and activities are tackled without the active consultation and involvement of the ones who live the practical situation. This has led to projects not working well. Even where much money is poured in, lacking the essential human ingredients, the projects have reached less than they would have had they involved input from a wide variation.
Some who handle cash and resources tend to control the direction of projects and activities. They leave out the thoughts, skills, experiences, and visions of others they consider less able because those persons in material, finance, resource, and background situations are thought to be lesser than controller’s.
Many projects do not take in input of local persons as the projects merely implement templates designed from outside. In Zambia, Africa, and elsewhere, work against HIV and AIDS could have advanced further or earlier had there been more listening to others. The resources would have reached and done further. This is a bigger problem in mono-donor situations, where some donors dominate particular fields. They stifle creativity and growth.
Various talents, skills, and experiences willingly shared can contribute to the benefit of many. We are fortunate that with some six billion persons, male and female they are, we have chance, if we open ourselves to them, to live some six billion lives and deep experiences.
Slavery, slave trade, and apartheid have been evils because of pain and working against preferred choices of the enslaved as things are directed to service of the slave masters. Left to their own choices, enslaved persons could have contributed greatly, in many other ways, to the world. Slavery made the world lose out in growth and opportunities.
Currently, there are so called “experts” who are not competent, while some have skills but are not very appropriate, relevant, to the situations. Some do not do “enough of listening” and allowing other persons.
IMF and World Bank and their allies have shown arrogance, bullying, incompetence, and dictatorship. They pushed aside local views and imposed some inappropriate programmes. They kept imposing their activities through various sanctions and threats against governments and society.
The fruits of IMF programmes include increased poverty, crime, corruption, environmental impact, and inequalities around factors like ethnicity, cultures, gender, and regions. Their programmes have caused reduced capacity of societies. The programmes worked against growth and opportunities of societies. The activities have acted against peace and the integrity of life.
They have not organised resource and other reparations to redress the damage they have done to societies and humanity. Perhaps some recent debt write-off may be considered silent reparations. But the organisations still control economic programmes which are still inappropriate for societies
But, even though many have sought it and others been assigned, in this unitary and interdependent world, there can be no superpower. Superpower is a temporary human created myth without basis in truth.
Now or in other generations, the action of one in one place affects all others everywhere. To grow, we should be moving towards relationships of mutual respect, growth, and realisation that the work of all of us on earth seeks to eventually pull together towards a common good.
The world will flourish through partnership and creativity, not through patronage. It is important to allow others. Every one will nourish and grow. Many should listen to, and practice, some of Mama Hillary Clinton’s words!
– GCB June 2011, LUSAKA.