Here are a few great pieces I came across on the internet this week:
Why do poor people make stupid, illogical decisions to buy status symbols? For the same reason all but only the most wealthy buy status symbols, I suppose. We want to belong. And, not just for the psychic rewards, but belonging to one group at the right time can mean the difference between unemployment and employment, a good job as opposed to a bad job, housing or a shelter, and so on. Someone mentioned on twitter that poor people can be presentable with affordable options from Kmart. But the issue is not about being presentable. Presentable is the bare minimum of social civility. It means being clean, not smelling, wearing shirts and shoes for service and the like. Presentable as a sufficient condition for gainful, dignified work or successful social interactions is a privilege. It’s the aging white hippie who can cut the ponytail of his youthful rebellion and walk into senior management while aging black panthers can never completely outrun the effects of stigmatization against which they were courting a revolution. Presentable is relative and, like life, it ain’t fair.
We imagine ultra-successful individuals being endowed with almost superhuman talents. In so doing, we surround greatness with a certain kind of mystique and deem it somewhat inaccessible to the average person. However, success is not contingent on having extraordinary, innate ability. Nor does greatness depend upon some mysterious approach to life. There are no secrets to success—only simple truths, principles, and disciplines that have been around for thousands of years. Sadly, we obscure the reality of success by making a number of misjudgments about it.
Dr Akram Nadwi is soon to publish his 40-volume collection on Muslim women scholars. In 2007, Mehrunisha Suleman and Afaaf Rajbee analysed the lost legacy of women scholars and its impact on today's world in emel's feature on The Lost Female Scholars of Islam.
Since women today participate so little in the teaching of Hadith and the issuing of fatwas, there is a wide misconception that historically they have never played this role. As Shaykh Akram describes, “when I started, I thought there may be thirty to forty women,” but as the study progressed, the accounts of female scholars kept growing and growing, until eventually there were no less than 8,000 biographical accounts to be found. Such vast numbers truly testify to the huge role that women have played in the preservation and development of Islamic learning since the time of the blessed Prophet Muhammad. The women encountered by Shaykh Akram were far from mediocre when compared to men, indeed, some excelled far beyond their male contemporaries. There were exceptional women who not only actively participated in society but also actively reformed it. Most striking was the high calibre of their intellectual achievements and the respect that they received for this.
It is what it is. The past is the past and no matter how hard we try we cannot change that history.
But let’s start to undo the wrongs with what is right and just. I urge all my Parliamentary colleagues to become champions for the recognition of Australia’s first nations people in our constitution.
To Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples this has always been part of our story of struggle, injustice and heartache. But we are here today – I am here today – because of this history. Aboriginal Australians are symbolic of triumph over adversity. We represent knowledge and wisdom held in land and country.
Because in our hearts we know that we do not own Mother Earth, the Earth owns us.
As a child growing up, I dreamt big.
Most people would have looked at an Aboriginal girl from the Territory, where the statistics of alcohol abuse, youth suicide, domestic violence, imprisonment rates and sub-standard education point to every reason why you should not succeed.
But I was determined to be successful.
And yes I am a product of that history, and I continue to live in a society whereby the odds are stacked against Aboriginal people.
As a senior executive with one of the charities says: ''I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, worried that one day we may have to face a royal commission and have to answer for the conditions under which these people were treated and which we didn't have the guts to challenge the government on.''
The economic crash brought back a host of long-forgotten truths, or rather lack of truths, as academic economics closed itself away from the beauty of competing, different ideas. Classroom economics failed to adapt itself to the essence of the world and fails to search for its own failures, to seek and wrestle with new truths.
We now have an opportunity to extend economics beyond the orthodoxies, to reach out to branches of economics that do not allocate resources through simple supply and demand, but theories that directly address the issue of sustainability and aim to ensure people's decisions are born out of social responsibility.
It is essential that future financial and commercial leaders realise the direct consequence of their actions on the wider society, and the best way to do this is by expanding the range of economic thought they are able to engage with.
THIS IS GOING TO BE AWESOME.
Of course, there was also the pieces on this blog in case you missed them, published in the Financial Review and lamenting on what to do with our lives (fulfillment?)
What have you read that you really enjoyed or found thought provoking?
Can't wait to share!