James Turner


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Can anyone who lives under a different form of government truly understand that of another country?

I have read blogs and comments from people in many different countries both on TED and in other websites. I am not sure that I can understand where they are coming from since I was not raised in their country. As an example I do not comprehend the need for the Queen of England and all the royalty but to take it away from those people would surely be a drastic event I guess. Just like others feel about the Republic of the US in other countries maybe if they grew up here they would feel differently

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    Aug 2 2011: "Truly" cannot be justified in other countrymen's views , it's the matter of feasibility that each government provides to let their citizens grow and nurture their life. Depending upon the country's Natural resources, Geographical Topology ,Climatic conditions, Natural inhabitants, Population [Different Faiths], and System administration provides the scope to stand on its individual views [Governing Rules] . Certainly a man from Greenland cannot justify the presence of governance in Uganda or any other form unless he experiences it.
    On the contrary , based upon Basic Humanly rights and Freedom , understanding others to a larger extent is Possible.
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      Aug 2 2011: Thank you for your insightful comments and thoughts. I just wish I was smarter in understanding others.
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        Aug 2 2011: Then we belong to the same League, and i am happy to be here :)
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    Aug 2 2011: Christophe Cop, says:
    QUOTE: "I think one can, but I even doubt if I understand my own government..."

    Birdia Tak Wai Chan, says:
    QUOTE: "All in all, we are sometimes relying too much on the media to tell us what to think about too many things."

    I think those two comments capture the "gist" of the matter. I have lived and worked all over the worlds (Canada, USA, Africa, China, and more.)

    Generally speaking, people everywhere just live there lives. Most have a general understanding of their countries political system but few are involved and fewer still are very knowledgable.

    The media more or less provides "predigested" morsels that form the foundational beliefs many of us have about our own countries and about the countries of others.

    In many ways, being a foreigner in so many places, I get to see people and their country in a way they cannot.

    I have learned that the media NEVER gets it right; and that the image we hold of our own countries are usually unrealistically positive and exaggerated.

    I have also learned the people who are the most likely to be "cosmopolitan" and knowledgable about other cultures are the urban Chinese.
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        Aug 2 2011: Hi Birdia,

        Perhaps we have met different people in our travels. But, in my experience, the people that I have met who are most likely to be aware of other cultures (and quite open minded) have been the people I have met in China - and Canada.

        To be fair, I am meeting many of the most highly educated and prominent people in China and I am sure that is skewing my "survey results."

        And, of course, you are right, there are "ignorant" people everywhere.
  • Aug 6 2011: Yes you can. The human mind is quite flexible and is able to comprehend different forms of government.

    The problem is that, most people don't want to because it is boring as hell. It also might give headaches and bouts of disbelief and a feeling of doom. In fact talking about governments is a major cause of depression and helplessness. (At least for me) My own government sometimes act in a childish thoughtless manner with knee jerk reactions acting on vested interests of people who are in a powerful minority. I think it would drive me crazy to know about another political system. (U.S.A you know whom i am talking about).

    Anyway yes people can but they don't want to.
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    Aug 2 2011: QUOTE: Hello Thomas. Have you met Hu Jintao?

    Bu shi. Ni na?

    QUOTE: Was your "survey" conducted in mandarin?

    Shi de.
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        Aug 2 2011: Very impressive. I wish I could read and write Chinese. I am learning but I think it will take me another ten years or so before I can respond to your post - I only know a hundred or so characters so far.

        I speak and understand only a little. I make my wife laugh.
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        Aug 3 2011: I like the REALLY old stuff - from 5000 years ago or so.
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        Aug 3 2011: Yes, I think he is different. I really like his statement, "Emancipate the mind," and think it is excellent advice.

        I like Deng Xiaoping too - although some of his decisions were not so great!

        He was very pragmatic.

        He "adapted" to the situation he found himself in, and when the situation changed, he introduced sweeping reforms that would not have been possible any earlier.

        I think I will meet Hu Jintao one day too.
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        Aug 3 2011: Very cool. Thanks for the link.

        And to tie this into the topic: I think understanding (and experiencing) what a country values is a good way of increasing our understanding of other countries: so, learning the language, the art, the history, the myths, and so on, really helps to get below the surface.
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    Aug 2 2011: Do you believe we can improve our consciousness faster today using the “power of the crowd “ phenomena ?
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      Aug 2 2011: Let me research that a bit it is new to me
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    Aug 1 2011: Yeah, I am not alone in being confused about governments
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    Aug 1 2011: I think one can, but I even doubt if I understand my own government...
    This gives a short summary (slightly colored by the makers' political point of view though)
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        Aug 2 2011: I am fond of my country... And indeed Belgium has a lot to offer besides beer and chocolate...

        The Saxophone, Surrealism, Painters, Body Mass Index, Diplomats, the European union, Fashion, Dance,... I could go on for quite while.

        But we do have a very bad political system... 10 Parties, 6 Governments, for the moment still no federal government (after more than a year: we are shattering all world records in that aspect).
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        Aug 2 2011: Don't ask...

        I don't know how exactly, but somehow it has grown into this twisted construction...
        But there are many good books on the political history of Belgium...

        Really, It would take too long to explain... the clip should have been sufficient.
        We unite 2 regions, but that same area is also split into 4 communities... we have 1 regional, 3 community and 1 regional/community combined government, and on top of that is the Belgian Government...

        We need more parties, as we cannot vote for parties in the other part of the country.
        .. We have (about) 6 parties in Flanders
        The liberals, the socialists, the green, the Christian, The separatist, and the extreme right separatist party (there are some other smaller parties, but they have not much influence)
        We have 4 Parties in Wallonia
        The Liberals, the socialists, the green and the christian (and then some small parties)

        (I think this gets more confusing than clearer.. that's why Belgian people know a lot about negotiation... we deliver good diplomats...)
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          Aug 2 2011: Politically speaking, I've never heard of a country more tolerant and inclusive than Belgium!!! Although it sounds to be riddled with ironies, contradictions and mixed messages.... But ultimately you can't fault the Belgians for trying to represent every possible group!!!
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      Aug 2 2011: Christoph - I like this video you shared!!! I just like the tongue-in-cheek light-hearted approach to the whole thing.

      I'd love to see the same video synopsis done for every country - can you imagine what Afghanistan's would be like?!? Pakistan's? North Korea's? The USA's????? England's? France's? Saudi Arabia's??? It would be very enlightening...

      I don't think the video's true intention is to accurately represent the whole of Belguim, but instead to highlight it's odd political/geographical/cultural composition and functioning along with many of it's shortcomings and say "it works - kind of". I would guess that the video reveals some truths about the country.

      There are few big cities in the world that are as beautiful and fun to be in than Brussels.
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          Aug 2 2011: Mussels! I wish I had mussels!

          I think one of the most beautiful colors on earth are on the inside and outside of a mussel shell. The blackened blueish outer shell. The oyster-silver inside. When the shell is wet it is gorgeous.

          I love mussels, but never had them in Belgium. Lots and lots in Maine. There is a restaurant in Portland Maine that that has oven-roasted garlic and almond butter mussels I would walk 500 miles for...

          Back on topic - I think all governments are complicated to the point that the common person cannot hope to understand let alone participate in them. The debt ceiling crisis we've just gone through here in the US was pathetic. I really wonder about the USA's future if it depends on this kind of congress and this kind of political discourse and perversion of the democratic process. It's as if we've turned into a nation of special interest groups, all of which could care less about anyone or anything else other than their own narrow special interest... It's making me sick.

          There's a George Harrison song I love called "All Things Must Pass". Maybe the USA's time is passing.
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          Aug 3 2011: Ray Charles could rule the world with the way he sings and plays...

          Weird things are happening politically and psychically in the US. If feels like things changed without really knowing how or why but they did. I think we are in the midst of change and right now its pretty ugly; but I'm holding out hope that things will keep changing and finally turn beautiful.
          Yeah, the war habit has got to be broken!!!!! And yes, it seems like we are eyeing up China as our next "Cold" War - bad news!!! I haven't been to China yet... I'm a little bit isolationist when it comes to interference in other countries' issues. I'm not pacificist - just want to be left alone to do what I want. I really admire the scandinavian countries and countries like Belgium. I know they have their problems, but at least one of them isn't war mongering.

          If you ever go to Maine stay along the coast and go above Portland. It's austere, beautiful, full of fog in the morning and lots of rocky beaches. I love rocks. Going to an island in Portland harbor this weekend for a few days... Mussels.
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