Skip to content

Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 27.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (22)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,817

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Saba Ismail is a Co-Founder of Aware Girls. At the age of 15, she co-founded Aware Girls for the empowerment of young women in leadership capacities and to advance social change. She completed a Masters in Biotechnology from COMSATS University Abbot Asad and the Hurford Youth Fellowship with the National Endowment for Democracy. She has worked as Youth Ambassador for Asia Pacific Youth Network (APYN: 2012-2013), the Steering Committee of UNOY, and is an alumnus of the International Visitors Leadership Program in the United States. Ismail was recognized by Foreign Policy as one of the 100 Leader Global Thinkers in 2013. She is the recipient of the Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention. She discusses: Mubarak Bala in Nigeria; Gulalai; most talented person; and ethical exemplars.

Keywords: Aware Girls, Humanism, Mubarak Bala, Saba Ismail.

Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Interview conducted July 2, 2020.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: There’s the ongoing case of Mubarak Bala in Nigeria. This is a very common people who are cofounders of organizations, presidents of organizations. How is this being received in the United States, which is known as a hub of Humanism?

It is one of the areas where secular Humanism took off in the 21st-century.

Saba Ismail[1],[2]: We have gotten support in a good way from our friends and supporters. People that we know. We have really good supporters from senator Schumer’s office, and others. We have got really good support.

Also, there were senators who actually said things on their Twitter publicly supporting the case. Senator Schumer wrote letters when our father was abducted from the high court. He was made a missing person, abducted, and disappeared.

It was the pressure from the U.S., including U.S. senators and State Department. Any support kept our parents safe to some extent. We were told by many people and friends around that it’s because we have the support, international support, in the form of the stories coming up on the New York Times, senators’ offices, and others – high level support, is the reason our parents are alive.

Gulalai and our parents would not be alive anymore. Having a voice when people know you as a credible person, also, I want to mention this. Gulalai didn’t become famous in the last two years. She has been well-known before.

He got a prize in the U.S. Congress in 2013. She got the Shirac Prize in 2013. There was all this international recognition. That is good on the one side. Yet, not everyone will get this recognition and encouragement at such a huge international level. What do you do with other humanists, where people may not know them?

They are not internationally known. It becomes hard to make sure that they are safe, to make sure that they are going through due legal procedures. We are lucky in this. We had a very credible history of 18 years of work.

People saw us when we started as teenagers. People saw us growing up and evolving in Pakistan and outside of Pakistan. I think, definitely, when someone has become part of this theme for decades, almost two decades.

They know what kind of person you are and what values and principles you stand for. That’s why people are still with us. There were several institutions, several organizations that should with us. Not because we knew them shortly or something, but because we had a really long relationship with each one of those individuals or institutions.

There are so many activists in Pakistan. Recently, I found this one doctor. She had to record a video statement for what she supported, what she said. Humanists issued a statement, recently; even though, she is well-known in Pakistan.

People stood up for her. But because she is not so well-known, she is not so safe. People have different kinds of priorities. What I am saying, if humanists don’t have the really strong support working, it is hard for them to be safe.

Our family’s case, I was based outside of the States. I was not being monitored by these security agencies. I was not be surveilled all the time. Because we would go together all the time. Gulalai was going through hiding all the time.

I was going through a different experience. My parents were going through a different experience. What helped us, I had the privilege to contact and do all this communication, whether with civil society, international community, UN, diplomatic channels.

It was only because I had a really known history of work and experience and people knew me. If a lot of people didn’t even know me. I also knew how to communicate my message. Who are the people who I should contact in this situation? How should I build my strategy?

I couldn’t contact my parents. I didn’t talk to my mother for months when Gulalai was in hiding. Her phone was taken away by security agencies. It was not safe for her to turn her phone on. When you are really disconnected, I didn’t know if she was safe or if arrested, or in custody.

I couldn’t talk to my mother. I couldn’t speak to my father. “This happened. This many people came.” That’s all I could get from him. It is important for humanists and activists to build strategies. I know situations are different and know the different persecution activists face.

From my place, having a strategy, having a person as in our case, it really helped. Gulalai didn’t know anything about these stories coming out of the New York Times. There were statements by humanists and several other institutions and Frontline, Lines for Peacebuilding, Global Observatory, FIDH, etc.

They were several statements. One day, on the day when our Imran Khan was doing his speech, we mobilized people who can go to the embassy. Every day, it would be petitions and all these supporters. Some were public petitions.

Some were open letters. All of that diplomatic work that happened, as I said. It is really important, as least from our experience, what really helped us. I was outside. I was not going through what my parents were going through.

Of course, I was in extreme stress, but I was not going through what they went through. I was in a position. I was in a privileged position. I had more privileges compared to my parents. I was able to mobilize everything.

We did a lot of background work before Gulalai became public and filing her asylum case. We did several visits to Washington, D.C. Several before she became public. It was a lot of work. Everything she went through, where do we want to go? Who should we contact? It was making her safe.

We met with F.B.I. We met with N.Y.P.D. We met at the highest level possible that we could do with the State Department. We made sure that she was safe and that the law enforcement was on her side, so they know and everything. It was a lot of work.

Definitely, if it is not someone immediately in your family, as not every family has one person is an activist and then they have siblings and parents, people and friends should advocate for them. This is a reality for people.

If someone doesn’t want to take responsibility in the family advocating for advocates, people can do it. A lot of these organizations would not have happened if I had not contacted all of these people. Because of where they would get the information, it is that it is not their intention and where they can get credible information.

I was the representative for Gulalai in all letters written for her. It is a lot of work. It is really for humanists and activists working in such environments. It is important that they are aware of the risks and should be trustworthy people who will stand up and do all those.

As a humanist and an activist, we have to go through personal trauma as well. We have to go through the trauma. We couldn’t allow ourselves to be affected by the traumatic experiences. We wouldn’t be able to fight if we were affected by this whole situation.

It is a mental toll. It is really stressful. There are a lot of things that humanists can learn from other humanists if they share. I am not sure if I am directly responding to the question. Also, digital security is important, especially for humanists, to ensure secure and safe communication channels.

I can even share through this email. ProtonMail is one of the safest. Signal for texting. In the process, I learned so much when I had to communicate. Even when I had to go outside, I was always at risk. There were attempts to bug my phone and my devices. It happened in that time.

Humanists’ lives and communication are at risk. Even in normal life, even when they aren’t being persecuted, digital communication so important. Because of the work that we did at Aware Girls, we used to teach girls about safe online spaces, about digital security. All of that.

We were the ones working on it and how important it is. If we hadn’t taken all those measures, Gulalai wouldn’t have been safe. In this time, when the whole world has become a digital world, if someone doesn’t say something on digital media or through a phone, it is a different world now.

In a digital world, you have to be safe digitally. You don’t know if people communicate in unsafe ways.

Jacobsen: Now, I want to touch on a particular individual influenced by Gulalai and you at Aware Girls. She recently graduated from a prominent British university. Who is this young woman?

Ismail: [Laughing].

Jacobsen: How did her story, in fact, start on the ground before fame through Aware Girls?

Ismail: Actually, I think she already had the potential. The way her father brought her up. She already had the potential. When we were in touch with her, she became part of a program for domestic violence awareness.

You mentioned Malala. She took part in a program from Aware Girls. I think it was a year before being shot in the head. I don’t want to take that kind of credit, saying, “Because of Aware Girls, she is Malala.” She already had the potential, won awards.

She is an alumni of Aware Girls. Definitely, a very talented Pakistani girl who we are extremely proud of.

Jacobsen: Who is the most talented person you’ve ever met in general?

Ismail: This is a hard question because there are so many. The world doesn’t have a measurement for talent. There are these IQ tests. Aside from that, we can’t say, “This person has a lot of talent.” Because we can learn things from people who aren’t the extremely genius talented people.

Life is about learning new things. You can learn things from people around us. I can’t say this is the person who is the most talented because I have met many people who are talented in many different walks of life or in the work that they do or in their personal lives.

There are many people. There are people who I have been inspired from, who I look as a strong person, as people who I can learn. I wouldn’t name one person or someone as the most talented who I have ever met.

Jacobsen: What about ethical exemplars who come to mind?

Ismail: For me, ethics are at the institutional level. I see ethics more at an institutional level. I don’t know. It raises the question, “What kind of ethics are we talking about?” It is about basic respect. I understand the question you’re saying.

I wouldn’t tie it to a person.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Aware Girls.

[2] Individual Publication Date: May 1, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4; Full Issue Publication Date: September 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4) [Online]. May 2021; 27(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, May 1). Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 27.A, May. 2021. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 27.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 27.A (May 2021). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 27.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 27.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 27.A (2021): May. 2021. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Mubarak Bala, Gulalai Ismail, Aware Girls, Talent, and Ethical Exemplars: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (4) [Internet]. (2021, May 27(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-4.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 26.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (21)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 22, 2021

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,721

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Saba Ismail is a Co-Founder of Aware Girls. At the age of 15, she co-founded Aware Girls for the empowerment of young women in leadership capacities and to advance social change. She completed a Masters in Biotechnology from COMSATS University Abbot Asad and the Hurford Youth Fellowship with the National Endowment for Democracy. She has worked as Youth Ambassador for Asia Pacific Youth Network (APYN: 2012-2013), the Steering Committee of UNOY, and is an alumnus of the International Visitors Leadership Program in the United States. Ismail was recognized by Foreign Policy as one of the 100 Leader Global Thinkers in 2013. She is the recipient of the Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention. She discusses: the formal charges; more recent case or cases; the justice system within Pakistan; different minority Muslim backgrounds; extensive periods of having to be in hiding; and the New York Times.

Keywords: Aware Girls, criminal justice, Gulalai Ismail, Islam, law, minority religious groups, Pakistan.

Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Interview conducted July 2, 2020.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What were the formal charges at the time towards your parents, your siblings, and yourself?

Saba Ismail[1],[2]: At that time, there were no formal charges. At the time, the raid, they were restless ordinary people without uniform. We never knew their identity. There were no charges and no cases. None against Gulalai.

At the time, Gulalai and I were receiving international awards. We were on the 100 leading global thinkers of 2013. Both us won several awards. We were getting the recognition and acknowledgement.

At one occasion, actually, when we both received the 100 leading global leaders award back in 2013, my father had a reception party at our village. The next day, some people came to my father.

It was a reception, but it was family, friends, and relatives. They said that if they knew the party and reception was here. We would be attacked. So, it is not a party as in Western culture. It was people getting together and eating food. It was people coming and chatting and having good food. That’s it.

Even that, my father received a threat that it would be attacked. Always, it received threats and different forms of persecution in one form or another. There was never a formal charge. There was never an FIR (First Information Report) or a police report, or anything.

Jacobsen: In the more recent case or cases, what were the formal charges at that time?

Ismail: Before Gulalai’s speech, she was charged. In total, she has been charged with inciting hatred and violence, inciting people to attack the army, of terrorism, and financial terrorism. These are the kind of charges that my family has been facing.

Gulalai was on the Exit Control List, No Fly List (can’t leave the country). My mother has been denied the right to have a passport. It was denied to her at the end of 2019. When her passport expired, she cannot get a passport because under the instructions of ISI; she will not get a passport.

She doesn’t have her identity documents on her. There is a cybercrime case against my father. There are multiple cases against my parents. On the 2nd of July, Gulalai and my parents were acquitted in the financial terrorism case.

That case started back in 2018 when Gulalai was put on a person of special interest inquiry. There were enquiries from the counterterrorism department. On the 12th of July, in 2019, there was a police case against Gulalai.

They accused Gulalai of taking money from India and transferring it to our accounts from India. The judge decided there is no evidence at all. With no evidence, the case is dismissed. Gulalai and my parents were acquitted in this case.

Because there was no evidence at all. They couldn’t provide any.

Jacobsen: This is insane.

Ismail: How can you charge someone based just on accusations? Because they couldn’t submit any single evidence. The judge was like, “This has to be dismissed and is malicious.” There are still so many crimes against Gulalai and the cybercrime case against my father, Exit Control List of my parents, and Gulalai was on a state kill list. There were orders to kill her.

There were all these charges. The past year (2020) have been a difficult time for our family fighting the legal ways.

Jacobsen: Now, if this is the status of the justice system within Pakistan, how is for other humanists?

Ismail: For other humanists, it is really hard. Same for human rights defenders and activists. It is not easy. It is really difficult. You can imagine. It took one year and multiple court appearances. My father was abducted, disappeared and spent 35 days in prison.

The police raids, everything, at the end, this case was used on social media and troll and spread hatred against my family. Of course, it cannot undo the harm done by Pakistan as a state against our family.

Our family is not united. We cannot go back to our country. Definitely, this is the situation. Even without a single piece of evidence, it still took one year and multiple appearances in course to bring our parents back and be acquitted in this case.

Other humanists are not safe. We have seen professors being accused of blasphemy. We have seen professors being killed in the name of blasphemy. Students have killed their professor.

Jacobsen: Holy smokes.

Ismail: Yes! Yes, recently, another person was accused of blasphemy. A humanist released a statement in favour of the professor. Generally, the space as a country is not safe for humanists. Anyone who dares to speak out will face crackdowns or being killed, false accusations of blasphemy, e.g., Asia Bibi who was falsely accused of blasphemy, spent 8 years in jail.

When she was released, the religious extremists were going crazy to get her killed. Also, a few year ago, a young brilliant student named Mashal Khan was killed by a university fellow at the university, again, because he was accused of blasphemy.

Blasphemy is not only a card used against religious minorities in Pakistan, but against anyone with a different opinion. They will say, “This person has committed blasphemy.” The justice system is not strong enough to protect them.

Or the crazy people, if the justice system fails to get them, there is mob violence to simply kill them if they are a humanist or a committed blasphemy. All the propaganda being spread against Gulalai on social media.

They say, “Okay, look at Gulalai as part of a humanist organization, she is a secular person. People should follow her and her ideologies because she is a secular humanist.” People reference the humanist groups and her being on the Board of Humanists International.

It has been used to spread hate against her. It is on social media. Several years ago, several bloggers were disappeared. They were accused of blasphemy. A lot of these cases stay this way. Because they believe if someone has a different political opinion; that’s where they use it.

Humanism is not a safe opinion at all. It can cost lives in Pakistan. This is a gruesome reality. This is the reality of Pakistan.

Jacobsen: The subtext or the elephant in the room is the idea of blasphemy as a generalized law in public, when, in fact, it’s only religious legal concept. So, the idea of applying a religious legal concept to those without a religion or those with another religion using religious legal law or different religious laws.

It shouldn’t be legitimate, but it comes at the most costly thing: someone’s life.

Ismail: But in Pakistan, it is not just religious persecution. Mashal Khan was a humanist and born a Muslim. He called himself a humanist. It applied to people who are not Muslims. Christian houses and communities have been burned because of these false blasphemy laws.

It is a very easy thing to provoke people in Pakistan. That’s what they’re using to promote. It is a very easy card to provoke people to kill someone or defame someone, or to make sure they don’t listen to someone’s ideas.

Jacobsen: Islamic backgrounds, minority Muslim backgrounds, is there a different reaction to different minority Muslim backgrounds, like the Ismailis? Are there different reactions to the minority Muslim backgrounds amongst the more dominant Muslim groups?

Ismail: Yes, definitely, people who are from the Ahmadi community. By law, they are not Muslims in Pakistan. The irony on top of all of it. I was born a Sunni Muslim. Now, if I want to have a national identity card, and when I am applying for a passport, I have to sign a document saying, ‘I, as a Muslim, do not consider Ahmadis as Muslims according to the Constitution of the country of Pakistan.”

If I don’t sign it, I don’t have an option to not sign it. If I don’t, though, then I will have to show my religion as another religion, such as a non-Muslim, in my identity documents. The amount of persecution that religious minorities within Muslim communities face is immense.

Imagine, people know that they are born in a certain religious identity cannot become the president or prime minister of a country. They know their dreams have limitations because of the religion they are born into.

Also, the persecution of the faith is immense. It is hard to say anything in support of these religious minorities. You say it. There are so many trolls and online armies ready to attack the family and to kill.

It is really hard. They have done it constitutionally, outcast the religious minority in Pakistan. There’s this Pakistani physicist, Abdus Salam. They have disowned him because of his religious identification. It is common to see a warning in a job warning, “Ahmadis are not allowed in this shop. Ahmadis are now allowed to do business in this shop.”

Where they sell clothes, telephone shops, there will be proper notices on the entrance of the doors of the shop. That these people from these religious minorities aren’t allowed. People growing up in a certain country see all this.

Because they’re a religious minority. Their certain rights are being withheld. They are not entitled to basic human rights in this country simply because of that. It is definitely not okay. Also, it has been taught in schools that Ahmadis are not Muslims.

It is repeated by the educated system. People propagate this online. It’s on a daily basis. You see it all around you. The way they are being targeted are several instances. People will travel on a bus. They will be asked to identify themselves and then shot and killed on the spot.

Whether non-religious or religious minorities, they have faced things so inhuman and unconstitutional.

Jacobsen: For some of the family, there have been extensive periods of having to be in hiding. So, without details for safety reasons, how does one even go about making that decision to say, “Okay, this is something that we have to do. We’re going to do it. We’re going to go forward with it”?

Then you drop everything in your lives to come to some form of safety without any certainty of safety in the end. 

Ismail: You’re in a different mode. You don’t have any other option. You don’t have many choices. You have to be resilient, extremely resilient and extremely strong because every step that we did at that time.

There was always chances of us not being safe and us being killed, losing our lives. That is when you know, constantly, about your safety or your parents’ safety. There is no other choice but to fight. You do your best in that time.

We have been through so many situations. My father has been going through so much in his life. He was accused of blasphemy before 9/11. When you live a life of such persecution, we had to do something like a SWOT analysis: strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.

That kind of analysis. “If I take this route, what are the risks?” Definitely, in those kinds of situations, you can discuss it with your friends. You cannot simply take advice from other people, the community, everything.

We had to do a lot on our own. One person has to be resilient enough to stand in that kind of situation and to come up with solutions. This is what we did. We couldn’t stay in the house anymore because it was not safe for us. In order to save our lives, also, because we come from a middle-class family, we don’t have properties in different areas of the country.

We’d go to a farmhouse in some other part of the country. We didn’t have choices on our plate. We had extremely limited options in what we could do and did our best. Each of us is safe in our situation after going through so much.

We have to understand the risk, but have to be resilient in what we do. Also, it is all the security measures and the precautions when it came to the physical security situation.

Jacobsen: When the stories came out in the New York Times, several of them, about your sister’s case, in your father’s case, it came out in the most influential publication in the Western world. Two members of the same family with similar stories in different circumstances.

One with your father in Pakistan. Two with your sister in New York in the United States. How, in in a very short period of time, were these stories, when they came out, portrayed in the countries that didn’t want things for either your father or your sister?

Ismail: I’m not sure if I will be able to answer this. The people who were definitely not happy with why these stories came out in such a high profile way. I really commend the work of Jeffrey Gettleman. He put in a lot of work to the stories that came out at that time.

It was a lot of background work. When the first story came out, it took weeks and weeks of calls and emails between Jeffrey and I at that time. When the stories came out, it really helps a lot raise the awareness of the case.

The day the New York Times story was published when Imran Khan came to give a speech in the United States. Nancy, the Speaker of the House, asked Imran Khan a question about it. It really helped us. Of course, it was courageous of Nancy to ask the Prime Minister of a country about the persecution of a women’s rights activist at the time.

The New York Times helped bring the awareness to a higher level. Also, when the journalist from the New York Times visited our parents back home in Islamabad, she saw how much military people guarded with weapons and everything.

She saw those people outside watching of the house. They had weapons with them. There were cars with people. The journalist saw everything and documented in a pictorial way. They took pictures as evidences for everything.

When the story of the New York Times got published, those vehicles that would stand there all the time, day and night, were gone. That stopped on the day the article got published. Definitely, at the time, it was a big relief for us.

These people with weapons and guns were watching our parents all the time. It was a really good timing. When questions were being asked of the Prime Minister of the country, some of the persecution stopped because of this coverage.

I love the way Jeffrey articulated the story. I love the way he put his effort into this story towards ensuring that the story was told in a really good and neutral way. At that time, there was so much hatred and propaganda on the media against Gulalai.

No one was taking our side at that time. So, it was really important for us to tell or story to the New York Times. Here is our story, you shouldn’t listen to the Pakistani authorities and the media. In Pakistani, the anchors would say Gulalai should be hanged and shown as an example – how dare she speak against the Pakistani military.

My parents watched this all day. For three days on television, people were repeatedly saying, “She should be hanged in public.” What my parents went through because of that, they still cannot process it. It was a huge mental stress for parents to see all this.

All the stories being covered by the media in Pakistan. No one bothered to tell our story. It was told through social media, through Twitter. Those were the only means for us to actually say things, “This where we stand.”

Later on, I met people who read the story, but I didn’t meet those people. They knew the story of my sister. But they would mention, “Do you know this woman in Pakistan? I read this story.” I would say, “That is my sister.”

It gave us voice to tell our story and to be able to go to the higher levels. We got so much support from U.S. senators. Now, it has become an introduction of Gulalai. If Gulalai introduces herself, the two New York Times stories help.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Aware Girls.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 22, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3) [Online]. April 2021; 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, April 22). Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A, April. 2021. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A (April 2021). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 26.A (2021): April. 2021. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Criminal Justice, Dominant Faith Group Tied to Military State, Minority Muslims, and Humanists: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (3) [Internet]. (2021, April 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-3.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 26.E, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (21)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 22, 2021

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,532

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Dr. Herb Silverman is the Founder of the Secular Coalition for America, the Founder of the Secular Humanists of the Lowcountry, and the Founder of the Atheist/Humanist Alliance student group at the College of Charleston. He authored Complex variables (1975), Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt (2012) and An Atheist Stranger in a Strange Religious Land: Selected Writings from the Bible Belt (2017). He co-authored The Fundamentals of Extremism: The Christian Right in America (2003) with Kimberley Blaker and Edward S. Buckner, Complex Variables with Applications (2007) with Saminathan Ponnusamy, and Short Reflections on Secularism (2019), Short Reflections on American Secularism’s History and Philosophy (2020), and Short Reflections on Age and Youth (2020). He discusses: some of the paths Humanism could evolve into the future; Humanism’s unification; Humanism and the rejection of the supernatural versus strict atheism; democratic ideals and issues; and limits of an empirical moral philosophy.

Keywords: empirical moral philosophy, future, Golden Rule, Herb Silverman, Humanism.

Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I want to take an interlude session into unifying evolutionary ethical frameworks as exemplified in part, in Humanism. One widely touted claim by individuals with a leaning towards the secular and a sympathy for religious sentiments is a claim to unified moral principles or frames in every ‘great’ religion, as in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Chinese traditional religions, and ethnic religions. One group of more superficial thinkers will point to a feeling or some loose intuition about religion, “All religions teach the same things.” I understand what they are meaning, but what they are saying, as a matter of fact, is false. Why have different religions if so? Another group will be selective about the observations. Ignoring the parts of brutality, cruelty, bigotry, and supernatural superstition, only focusing on the Golden Rule, saying, “Oh, it’s the Golden Rule. It’s in all of them. All of the religions teach this as the same basic element of their ethical teachings.” Generally, one can find passages. However, it seems both incredibly naïve and selective, because different formulations of the Golden Rule exist and different religions teach the Golden Rule unequally well. Still others turn into postmodernist philosophers, they ramble off into incoherency and don’t make any sense, while puffed up and self-proud as a cock (rooster) on a dunghill. Humanism is an advanced 20th-century philosophy. It’s about a deep dive into reflection on the depths of human depravity and reformulating, and formalizing, the positive, proactive ethics found in all periods of human history in which civilized advance society existed for those times, when naturalism and the humanities were the dominant discourse of the time. What are some of the paths Humanism could evolve into the future?

Dr. Herb Silverman[1],[2]: It may be true that just about all religions have some version of the Golden Rule about treating others as you would want to be treated. And a version of this can also be found in almost every ethical tradition, with no gods necessary. In my Jewish tradition, the first century BCE Rabbi Hillel was allegedly asked by a prospective Jewish convert to teach him the entire Torah (Hebrew Bible) while standing on one leg. Hillel replied, “That which is hateful to you do not do to your neighbour. The rest is commentary.”

Some equate the Golden Rule with the rule about loving your neighbour as yourself. The problem arises with who we consider our neighbour. In the Hebrew Bible, neighbours were the “chosen” people, other Israelis. Jews were supposed to kill outsiders on their way to the Promised Land. Today in America, many White Christian Nationalists view only their fellow Christians as neighbours and so justify discriminating against non-white immigrants.

Another problem with the Golden Rule is that some people may not want to be treated as we want to be treated. Our values may be so different that the Golden Rule makes no sense. For instance, some fanatics have no aversion to death, so the Golden Rule might inspire them to kill others in suicide missions. For humanists to live by the Golden Rule, we must empathize with other people, including those who may be very different from us and might want to be treated differently.

When you mentioned “dunghill,” I thought of Thomas Jefferson, who in many ways (but not all ways) was a humanist. As he correctly pointed out, there are some words of wisdom in the Bible, but I agree with Jefferson when he referred to them as “diamonds in a dunghill.”

When you ask for paths where Humanism could evolve in the future, I think Humanism is a philosophy that is continually evolving. That’s why we have had three Humanist Manifestos, and will undoubtedly have additional “manifestos” as we learn more about how better to live ethical lives, along with new scientific discoveries.

Jacobsen: Continuing from the previous question, there are areas in which Humanism is a laundry list of principles rather than a unified ethical framework. Such a framework in which it can continually, dynamically evolve while maintaining its former evidentiary coherence, in fact, many of the declarations are such listings. Do you think that there are ways Humanism can be more compact, more unified, showing how its principles interact with one another to create a whole other than a simple titular stamp: “Humanism”?

Silverman: A compact way to talk about Humanism is to describe, without a laundry list, its basic principles, which serve as guidelines for how we should live. Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that also aspire to the greater good of humanity. We are an integral part of nature, the result of unguided evolutionary change, and ethical values are derived from human need and interest as tested by experience, along with a greater knowledge of the world. Humanists are guided by reason and inspired by compassion.

Jacobsen: Are there any parts of Humanism that you think should just go, not be there? I believe you had some qualms in earlier variations of declaration with the inclusion of supernatural versus atheist or non-theist as an appeasement to some who couldn’t quite stomach a complete rejection of the impossibility of the gods. 

Silverman: I know some good people who can’t stomach a complete rejection of the existence of gods. They may act in a lot of ways like humanists, leading ethical lives and aspiring to the greater good of humanity. I just don’t like the god baggage that might go along with it. I can’t prove there are no gods. An atheist is simply someone without a belief in any gods, and I think we should not claim to be guided by imaginary beings. That’s why my brand of Humanism is atheistic. I can’t prevent the Pope from calling himself a humanist because he supports immigration, opposes wars, and accepts that humans are partially responsible for climate change.

Jacobsen: Human rights and democratic ideals feature prominently in the humanist lifestance. Are there any particular weaknesses in the claims of human rights, as said in the formal documents of human rights, or in the principle of majority rule (adult age majoritarian voting rule)?

Silverman: The notion of human rights is a modern concept from the 18th century Enlightenment, not from ancient times when the Golden Rule was first quoted. Thomas Jefferson incorporated such “inalienable rights” into the U.S. Declaration of Independence. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948 was a milestone for its universalist language, which recognizes that all humans are born free and equal in dignity and rights regardless of nationality, place of residence, gender, national or ethnic origin, colour, or religion.

I do have some problems with majority rule, especially if we have an uneducated populace, and leaders (dictators) decide who constitutes voters. After all, Adolf Hitler came to power in a democracy in 1933. Not that it is any way comparable, but democracy may not be working so well in the U.S. now, with many Republicans trying to make it difficult for some African Americans to vote. So, I must agree with Winston Churchill: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

Jacobsen: Are issues of an empirical moral philosophy found in the epistemologies informing the ethics? So, the ideas of the limitations of induction to give answers about the world – its scope and limits – and then the limitations by logical implication extended into the moral philosophy of Humanism, as in some things can never be known, others partially known now, while others known with a reliably high degree of accuracy. A sort of variation in accuracy of reality maps meaning variations in the reliability, and validity, of the application of humanistic ethics. Sometimes, there’s tons of informations; other times, there’s little; still others, we have, basically, none, and may never have any data to inform the ethic, which would make ethical decisions solely grounded in the lattermost equivalent to a base-level faith-based moral decision-making frame of reference (that which we try to avoid at all costs). 

Silverman: When it comes to what we know and don’t know with a reliable level of accuracy, I usually look to science. I recently read a wonderful new book by Jeff Hawkins called, A Thousand Brains: A New Theory of Intelligence. It compares our old reptilian brain to our new mammalian brain (the neocortex), with implications for moral behaviour.

I’ve been in debates with Christians who insist that objective morality must come from God. My contention is that we don’t know if there is such a thing as objective morality but, if so, we are coming closer to it by learning more about human nature and what works best for individuals. We often learn this through science or experience, not through ancient “holy” books. We need to be careful when we talk about what we know, and, even more important, about what we don’t know. To quote Mark Twain: “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so.”

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Dr. Silverman. 

Silverman: Thank you.

Appendix I: Footnotes

 [1] Founder, Secular Coalition for America; Founder, Secular Humanists of the Low Country; Founder, Atheist/Humanist Alliance, College of Charleston.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 22, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism [Online]. April 2021; 26(E). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, April 22). Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism. Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism. In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.E, April. 2021. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.E. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.E (April 2021). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.E. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.E., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism.” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 26.E (2021): April. 2021. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Free of Charge 8 – Possible Futures for Humanism [Internet]. (2021, April 26(E). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/free-of-charge-8.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 26.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (21)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2021

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,651

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Saba Ismail is a Co-Founder of Aware Girls. At the age of 15, she co-founded Aware Girls for the empowerment of young women in leadership capacities and to advance social change. She completed a Masters in Biotechnology from COMSATS University Abbot Asad and the Hurford Youth Fellowship with the National Endowment for Democracy. She has worked as Youth Ambassador for Asia Pacific Youth Network (APYN: 2012-2013), the Steering Committee of UNOY, and is an alumnus of the International Visitors Leadership Program in the United States. Ismail was recognized by Foreign Policy as one of the 100 Leader Global Thinkers in 2013. She is the recipient of the Chirac Prize for Conflict Prevention. She discusses: human rights and the family in Pakistan; and Gulalai Ismail and Aware Girls.

Keywords: Aware Girls, girls’ rights, Gulalai Ismail, Pakistan, women’s rights.

Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*Interview conducted July 2, 2020.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Now, how was Aware Girls seen within Pakistan or Pakistani society for years up until a few years ago? Was it mostly positive or mostly negative?

Saba Ismail[1],[2]: It was both. Our work had a great impact on women in Pakistan. We advocated for anti-sexual harassment laws in Pakistan. We advocated for gay rights. We advocated for women in the informal sector, their rights.

We advocated for enhancing the political participation of women in the political process of the country. We helped young women to run in local elections, in the last local elections, in Pakistan. It was historic.

In some villages, it was the first time that women ran for elections. They were amazing. Young women and girls wanted to be a part of the organization and part of the programs. In our organization, we would not just do a one-time training or a one-day activity.

We would engage people over a long period, as long as 1-year. Some have been engaged for years in our programs. Women felt safe working as employees and being part of the programs. They knew it was all women as a platform.

They felt safe to be part of the institution, felt safe to be given opportunities. As I said about these women who ran in the local elections, we are seeing the change brought by Aware Girls. So, there was definitely a huge impact of our work, in our community.

There were men who started supporting women’s rights and women’s issues, e.g., women’s political participation. One of these women who ran for local election. One was run by men in the family. It was helping these women to win these elections.

It wasn’t just women. It was for men too. We reached more than 10,000 young people, preventing them from being taken by the militant organizations. We have been able to help them to promote the values of tolerance, non-violence, and peace.

The impact was huge reaching out to so many young people directly, helping women running elections, helping women run in and participate in political processes. We help run something started back in 2012.

We had something on young women in leadership. We had this in the 16 days of activism. We were raising awareness among women, “If there is violence, report it.” Women were like, “We can report violence. We should report it.”

There should be a place if an action is taken. If a woman is in danger, or if a woman needs a shelter or psychological support, medical support, we started a helpline, started provided free legal services to women facing domestic violence. We established strong educational institutions across the province.

We would do partnerships and programs. We would go to the colleges and campuses and talk on women’s rights, sexual reproductive health and rights, the issues of human rights in general, and peace.

We had good networking and partnership-building with other civil society organizations, including institutes. Even with government agencies, we had good working relationships.

We had women who worked in the informal sector. We developed a good relationship with the Labour Department. Women who were domestic workers or who work in the home are not considered labourers. They are not entitled to basic income.

They’re not entitled to sick leave. They are not entitled to anything anyone working in the formal sector would get normally. We worked with the Labour Department. So, they can help us in making women who are working in the informal sector seen as doing proper work.

Aware Girls established the first ever union of women domestic workers and home-based workers. It was the first ever time, where we organized hundreds and hundreds of women from the informal sector and built their capacity first.

It was educating why labour rights were important for them. We developed programs for them. When we were working in the Pakistani Labour Department, we had relationships with the media. When we ran these conferences and programs, we would always get really good coverage from great media channels.

It would always be people coming from the media. Whether the media or the government offices, educational institutions, or other civil society organizations, or even communities, we used to work with the communities.

It was the only young women led organization in the whole country. Definitely, it was safety. They knew that they would learn something. Also, families would see the change in their own family members.

For example, one story I remember, when I was working with the domestic workers and home-based workers in 2014, when I was organizing some of these programs, we had to postpone some programs because the army public schools were attacked.

It was attacked where more than 140 children were killed. We had to postpone. There were some other administrative issues. We had to stop our programs for 3 months. When we started the program, when everything was set to restart the programs, our team went to the homes of these women to inform them. We were restarting the program.

One woman was not home. Our team member left the message with the husband. This woman, at that time, when we stopped the program, this woman went to Afghanistan because people have relatives in Afghanistan.

But they are refugees. They are doing the work in the informal sector. She went to Afghanistan to meet her relatives. When our team went back and said, “We are restarting the program.” The husband called the wife and said, “You need to come back because your program is restarting. So, you need to be here.”

You won’t believe. This was such a huge change in this family. Because only when this woman started coming to our program. On the first day home, she was beaten by the husband. The husband said: How would she dare go to this? NGOs are viewed negatively in Pakistan.

How dare she go to a program organized by an NGO, the woman was like, “I learned so much on the first day. I have to come here.” She continued to go for the rest of the program. While coming, she learned so much. She transformed her husband so much.

A few days ago, the woman was beaten by her husband for joining a program. Only a few weeks later, the same man was calling his wife and asking her to come back because the program is being restarted.

So, when I think of the impact, it was definitely so huge. At times, we wouldn’t even know the impact or the change that we are bringing in the families, what changes we’re bringing in the society.

We cannot expect some few activities will change anybody’s life. It is not a realistic expectation. But definitely, what we saw, I know, of course, so many years have passed now. I still remember her: her face, her name.

That keeps us going. Gulalai and I are not on the ground anymore now. It was so important, brought so many changes to the lives of so many women. So, we have to continue the work. We have been receiving so many calls on the helpline, which I mentioned earlier.

They needed help in one way or another, help and support. This was the kind of impact. This was the kind of work that we had been doing on the ground. So, this was the positive side. You say, “Okay, how was Aware Girls seen?”

On the other side, we faced a lot of challenges. For example, it was girls at such a young age who can be leading an organization. When we would organize activities, we would be an all women and girls team, not just women and girls but young women and girls.

They would ask, “Where are the organizers of the event?”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Ismail: We would say, “We are the ones.” They would say, “No, no, the man behind the organization.” We would say, “No, there is no man organizing all this. We are the leaders. This is our team.” It was an unbelievable thing for people to see young girls leading an organization and doing all this.

This is the kind of thing that we faced. We definitely faced confrontation from State and non-State actors. This was before the last year or couple of years. We were countering violent extremism in parts of the country.

We were addressing the root causes. Addressing the root causes is not so easy when you talk about the policies the country is supporting and changing all that, Gulalai and I were threatened to be among the missing persons.

This is back in 2013. So many years ago, we were told that we can be missing persons because we are working on these sensitive issues. They’re causing red flags for the national security of the country because we were preventing young people from becoming part of the militarized groups.

We did face these kinds of challenges. On one occasion, we were organizing on International Women’s Day back in 2012. This one government office called us and asked me to give them a bribe to have this event.

NGOs usually have a bad reputation. They would say, “We don’t allow you to organize events. You are an NGO.” All of that. When they asked us to give them a bribe on International Women’s Day, we were engaging different stakeholders.

Civil society organizations, men, etc., we were also engaging the government. When they said, “If we have to become a part of this program, then you have to give us a bribe.” I refused to give them a bribe.

As soon as I said, “I am not going to bribe anyone.” They immediately said, “International Women’s Day is vulgarity. Aware Girls is promoting vulgarity and Western culture.” They told me that they are going to ban the organization, are coming to raid our office, and then not allow us to do the activity.

The activity was the next day, March 8th. I had this conversation on the 7th of March. You can imagine the stress. We were organizing five activities in one day. We were really a small team, maybe 10 people in total.

We were organizing these five activities at once. There were more than 100 people per event. You can imagine the stress. Yet, we resisted this. We contacted the authorities and told these people, “These people are asking for bribes and saying International Women’s Day is vulgarity.”

There’s a mentality. Women’s rights are a problem. We face this problem in 2014 in Peshawar for the work that Gulalai and I did. At that time, Gulalai was on a trip. They attacked our home. They started to shoot, firing guns.

So, it was a very brutal attack. When I still recall that, that was really, really a difficult time. It was in the middle of the night after 12. These men who really stormed our house and were firing on the house.

They were firing in our direction and to destroy our work. That’s when we decided that city was not safe for us. That was another time relocating. We have been relocating because of these kinds of attacks that we have both faced.

In Pakistan, I haven’t seen such a case in which families are being tracked. Not in the past two years, those have been another story. Our family has been persecuted because of our work. Our family was attacked.

We had to move from one city to another. We went into hiding. That was a short time. We went into complete hiding and strategized how we would move forward with all of that. We have been receiving threats, attacks, challenges, harassment, as being women working on women’s rights or women working on peace.

There has been the good side and the challenges on the other side. In that, our father really stood in that. People who even travel to the US or countries outside. The intelligence agencies will come to our office, to our home, and will gather information and all that.

In our culture, you can’t imagine. The intelligence agency visiting our house to violate the house is really something. You won’t see it; it’s not common. Our father stood up with us. He would be helping us navigating whatever those challenges were.

Jacobsen: What is the feeling of being raided?

Ismail: It was scary, definitely. The society shouldn’t let this happen. It was definitely traumatic. It was hard. At that time, of course, when that happened, it was denied. We weren’t ready, of course. That kind of raid was not something that we were expecting at all.

We were not people to fight back with guns. Because, definitely, we are peaceful people who believe in peace and peaceful protest. It was really hard. It was like Gulalai was not harmed. It was Shola, my parents, and I.

It was the four of us. The hardest thing after the firing happening. Those people left. My father had to go to the airport to pick up Gulalai. He had to leave all of us back at home. We knew that if these people are still outside on the corner waiting for our father to come and to kill him.

We didn’t know. It was an uncertain event. Our father had to go and pick up Gulalai. When she got home, I told her the whole story. She narrowly escaped that situation. Because, what if she was outside? They would have killed her.

It was really hard for her to sleep at night. It was not easy. In Pakistan [Laughing], there was no electricity when she got home with our father. We were – literally – sitting with no lights waiting for Gulalai to come back safely.

It was a sigh of relief. The moment Gulalai came; we thought, “What should we do now? What is our next step?” That is when we went into hiding. Of course, it wasn’t easy. People were so suspicious of things happening. We saw one person standing in front of our house all day smoking a cigarette, all day.

There was another woman the next day who tried to enter our house by impersonating someone else. She was saying, “I have to drop something because someone ordered something from here.” We know that we never ordered anything.

There were people who tried to get in. They impersonated. There were people standing in the street in front of our house. There was a beggar who was actually spying on us. So, the very next day, we noticed some of these suspicious things, especially my mother.

She is good in catching these kinds of things. There was a person impersonating a mentally sick person. They tried to get into our home. He tried to get into it. My mother said it was suspicious and had seen suspicious people outside.

It was the incidents before and after this raid. It was not safe to spend one day in the house. It is not easy. We were a small family. You live so much in your house. Even then, you pack small. Those that can fit in the car. Then we left the home at that time.

There were people in cars following us. We ended up being safe, went into hiding. We moved to safer places. We thought that Islamabad may be safe. But in the last 2 years, everything has changed, because my father was abducted.

There were attempts to kill my father, attempts to kill Shola because they thought she was Gulalai. Even in the city, which is the capital of the country, my family is not safe anymore. That is why we moved back in 2014.

Of course, what happened in the last two years in Islamabad, as you all know by now, so much has happened in the last 2 years, my parents are not safe even in the capital.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Founder, Aware Girls.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2) [Online]. April 2021; 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, April 15). Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A, April. 2021. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A (April 2021). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 26.A (2021): April. 2021. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Saba Ismail on Pakistan, Women’s Rights Organizing, and Raids Against the Ismail Family: Co-Founder, Aware Girls (2) [Internet]. (2021, April 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/saba-ismail-2.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 26.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (21)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2021

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,624

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Chef Craig Shelton has over 40 years of experience in science-based cooking and teaching in the hospitality business. He trained in eight of the world’s greatest restaurants, including “El Bulli”, “Jamin”; “Ma Maison”, “L’Auberge de l’Ill”, “Le Pré Catelan”, “Bouley”, “Le Bernardin”, and “La Côte Basque. Chef Shelton has earned countless awards as Chef-Owner of his own restaurants including a James Beard Best Chef medal, NY Times 4-Stars ratings on four separate occasions, a 5-Star Forbes rating, the Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef title; and Number One Top Restaurant in America in 2004 from GQ. Mr. Shelton is also an instructor at Princeton University in the Princeton Environmental Institute, where he teaches a freshman seminar on the interrelationships between public policy, agriculture, diet-related disease and anthropogenic climate change. Mr. Shelton began his expertise in this area while an undergraduate of Yale where he earned his degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He is a co-founder of the think tank, Princeton Center for Food Studies, the founder of King’s Row Coffee, and a co-founder of Aeon Holistic Agriculture, Inc. He is recognized as a consummate business consultant with specialization in macro finance. He is known for his ability to generate excitement in his cooks and instill in them the drive toward excellence by connecting all aspects of gastronomy to the larger intellectual landscape – chemistry, ecology, literature, art and human physiology. His great passions are reading and ocean sailing. His full C.V. can be seen here. More about Aeon HospitalityMountainville ManorAeon Holistic AgricultureKings Row Coffee, and Princeton Studies Food (in the hyperlinks provided). He discusses: economics of hospitality; and banking systems.

Keywords: Aeon Hospitality, banking, British Banking, Chinese Banking, Craig Shelton, finance, German Banking.

Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: To close off, what about the economics of everything?

Master Chef Craig Shelton[1],[2]*: Also, the economics of it. I have a passionate love of the study of economics. The moral and historical basis, the heterodox basis, this expression, which I’m talking about, or the transmogrification of agriculture and the food system.

The industrialization of the food system, the Frankenstein’s monster that it became; it is symptomatic of an even deeper problem faced in the world, which is the systematic regressive wealth distribution caused because of the form of banking most of the world uses referred to as British banking.

Unlimited money creation power is given to commercial banks and other financial institutions. We don’t even understand. It almost changes capitalism into a command economy, which redistributes wealth from the bottom to the top and the young to the old through a mechanism of artificial asset price inflation.

This is concerning and one of the key observations of a book, which I am working on now. A contrast of various forms of capitalism possible – trying to bring to light little policy space with such phrases as “How are we going to pay for it?”

The reality: There is massive amounts of policy space, once we are willing re-examine the first assumptions embraced by us – without even knowing it. That’s a long-winded answer as to what I have been trying to do with my life and the food system, and trying to bring back authentic food systems back to it.

It is to restore human health and planetary healthy. It is looking at the looming problems. The British banking system compounded worse with income-based taxation. I think about the fact that when the entire history, of recorded history, of human beings back to ancient Sumer; taxation was always based on wealth.

80%, 90%, 100%, of taxes were property taxes, which corresponded very well with net worth back in the day before derivative instruments and such. So, what we’re living in, the idea today is this radical transformation, where almost 100% of federal revenues are collected on the basis of income.

This is a radical experiment in the history of the world. It has helped to de-tether real estate from the rest of the economy. Germany discovered this over 200 years ago. Germany had a different style of banking. It is called variously, “German Banking.”

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Shelton: Or Industrial Banking, in Germany, commercial banks are not allowed to use this power of money creation for financial transactions. Meaning, an asset not being created new. It is an asset pre-existing and changing ownership.

When you change a piece of land, nothing new is created. You cannot get a commercial bank on that. You would need something resembling a credit union in America. It is more community banking. There, and only there, you are borrowing true savings.

We have this mythology. We were led to believe. Banks are simply intermediaries or financial mediation via a bank. That the role bankers play is purely middlemen. They collect savings and then they allocate those savings out to someone less patient, more impatient, who charges that person a higher interest rate than the depositor. They live off the margins.

That is the simple folk tale people have been told. It is a malicious folk tale. It is the single greatest contribution to the world’s immiseration. There’s simply nothing out there doing more harm to more people.

It’s the reason that inequality keeps skyrocketing. I said at the beginning of my book. Let’s look at these 9, 10, or 11 graphs, here is America since the end of WWII, we see a nearly straight line of tax reduction for the richest and for everyone else.

Down, down, down, down, we ask the corporations to pay in taxes. You would expect profits to be up correspondingly over the next period of time. We look at the next graph. Labour share of sales, of GDP.

Down, down, down, down, every year since the mid-60s. It is a complete straight line down. You would expect the profits of the companies of America to be up. You look at the velocity of money. It is down, down, down, down. You would expect the profits to be up.

You look at the reinvestment of profits into new capital goods – down, down, down, down. It is every single year, a straight line. Look at the profits of American corporations, they are down every single year.

This is extraordinary. How can it be: all of the expenses to businesses are going down and profits are not going up, but going down, too? Then you see the buildup of corporate debt. It is due to the artificial asset price inflation of commercial real estate.

Commercial real estate is rising 10 times, 20 times, even 100 times faster, then the company is able to raise its own retail prices. It creates a massive expense wedge, which is first taken out of labour. This is the reason all productivity gains, not one percent went to labour.

Basically, this is from the 60s forward. These are fascinating observations. This accumulation of debt. The size of the money supply, when you include credit as money, money is a commodity. I think it is tautological.

I think that’s a false construct. Money and credit identical, not merely equal, that produces a theory of banking, which then is called the Credit Creation Theory of Banking. If you use Credit Creation Theory of Banking and substitute that for the Financial Mediation Theory of Banking used by all economists, you develop an economics, a mathematics, with a strong predictive power.

That is the weak link in the whole thing, in my humble estimation. Once you start to think in this out of the box fashion, one cannot un-see the seen. Its explanatory powers go down to agriculture. Why, on Earth, would human beings be so suicidal, so stupid?

In the last 40 years, the finite quantity of crop land, high nutrient dense topsoil; we’ve lost 1% every year. We’re down to 60% of the original size, even as population has doubled or tripled in this time.

How can we account for that? Industrial agriculture is, certainly, to blame. Because when you made it your decision to grow the cheapest possible food, like corn, wheat, rice, and soy, unfortunately, when you grow the cheapest possible crops, you are limiting yourself to the cheapest possible agricultural techniques.

Amongst them, how are you going to irrigate? With corn, you end up with lime on the cheapest form of irrigation, which is, usually, a pivot. It is aerial. It comes from above and drops down onto the soil. The first problem: it is not ecologically sound, and wasteful of a precious commodity, which is water.

Equally important, the ground water coming up is filled with minerals and salts. The process of evaporation only concentrates them. If you use twice as much water as a surface irrigation, you use four times the amount. You end up with salinization.

Eventually, the soils will become inert. That is, you can’t get any nutrients across the salt membrane. We are seeing this across the world now, in many locations. Much more damaging has been the plough, turning over the soil 18 inches as pest control or as weed control.

People need to understand. Plants don’t have a digestive system, like we do. It is the microorganisms on the surface of the soil, which are the effective digestive system for the plants. When you turn it over, you are killing them, temporarily, at least.

In the state of nature, you do not see this type of erosion. But when you start turning over the top soil like this, you see, in the near 100 years or 150 years, since the great migration West; we used to have 12 feet of topsoil across the entire Great Prairies.

Almost all the agricultural lands in America were 10 to 12 feet of topsoil. Now, it is 1 or 2 inches. As bad as it is in America, it is as bad or worse everywhere else. It is the second biggest reason for the loss of volume and square acreage of top soils.

But the single largest may surprise you. The single largest contributor for the loss of top soil is real estate development. This frenzy of selling debt, this embedded growth obligation of the British banking system.

The need this system acquires. This inexhaustible appetite for doubling the quantity of credit in the world again, and again, and again. It is the story of the person who did a favour for the sultan. When promised by the sultan, the man asked to take the chessboard and put one grain of corn on the first square, two on the second, and so on.

Hastily, he laughs and agrees to this. The court mathematicians come and say, “There isn’t wealth of corn in the entire world worth what you have just promised him.” This grotesque, insatiable demand for the doubling of credit in the world.

It needs placement. Credit, the bank credit has this one limitation. Banks, literally, can create money out of thin air, but only out of crediting it into existence. Some project or purchase has to happen.

The present value of the land for the farmer who has been brainwashed into growing corn, for example. The last time I checked, the average yield for a farmer who grows corn is only 60$ an acre, including all the government subsidies going into it.

So, the present value of the land, if you’re using for industrial corn production, is almost zero. You figured out a way to squander one of the most precious resources in the world to its lowest possible use.

It cannot stand up to the competition from real estate developers. The system is designed. They can get $200,000 an acre at present value in real estate development. To understand why this is happening, not just what is happening, it is a passionate concern because the system itself has taken on its own life.

I do not ascribe this to a lot of evil people at the top wanting to destroy the world. It is following rules blithely passed from one generation to the next. It set us on a path of self-annihilation. It takes a lot to not see the symptoms and connect them all together, when they have a root cause in the British banking.

It is made worse with a tax system based on income rather than property, wealth, or net worth. Of course, it is made worse. We act surprised that we have poverty or homelessness, or bad health outcomes, opioid crises.

It is so absolutely obvious. We have chosen this. These are all a result of our public policy choices. British banking was rejected by Germany 225 years ago. It is for that reason Germany didn’t lose its industrial base.

The German worker has relative parity in purchasing power to their grandparents. They can still afford to raise a family. They can still afford to buy approximately the same house, in approximately the same sized lot, in approximately the same location.

With some variation, it’s not perfect. There are no tariffs on foreign money coming in, which does destroy markets. But still, the difference is extraordinary. China adopted the German style of banking to a large extent with something called Guidance of Credit.

Guidance of Credit have three macros. There’s consumer credit used to buy consumer goods. Let’s limit the amount of consumer credit in our nation, so, we don’t produce consumer price inflation.

What about the second macro? The second macro are financial transactions e.g., when you buy houses, when you buy land, shares in publicly traded stock, and so on. In most cases, you cannot lose new money printed out of thin air.

You have to borrow pre-existing savings in a German system, in China. The third category is industrial banking. You will create something new, a new factory, buy new equipment to expand the factory.

That’s called new capital good creation. They allow it. That’s where the banks create the money out of thin air. The goal of German banking and Chinese banking is to make sure that the private debt to GDP ratio stays relatively flat.

That way, new money creation goes to the good of society in expanding the economy rather than just producing windfall profits that punish the buyer and reward the seller in an artificial fashion. This is the reason for the German miracle and the reason for the Chinese and a couple of other miracle nations.

They took this German banking system and elevated it. It is sometimes called Window Credit, Window Guidance. There are various names for it. There is variation between the nations. But here’s the kicker, Germany has never had an internally created banking crisis ever since it made this switch in 225 years.

What you begin to realize, this thing we call the “business cycle” is a complete misnomer. There’s no such thing. It should be called the ‘British Banking Cycle.’ Economists identified more than 100 years in the most persuasive cycle.

All this misery, great depressions and little depressions, are all caused by banks printing money out of thin air for the wrong purpose. Basically, collateral-based lending rather than for the creating of capital goods.

It is a mission for me to get this word out. My industry suffers from the distortions caused by British banking more than any single other industry in our economy. We have what is called the lowest productivity. Most people don’t know what productivity means.

They think of it as a virtue. It is not. A company’s productivity could go up, even as their sales and profits fall. Productivity means how successful are you in eliminating jobs and replacing those people with equipment.

In other words, the true definition is taking the annual sales of the company and dividing by the average number of full-time workers or their equivalent. When you do that, you see the average – 10 years ago, probably not different today – of all the industries in America combined is about $420,000.

But if you pick apart the various industries, you realize, “Oh my God.” Big tobacco is at the highest productivity. At the time, it was close to $3,000,000. Restaurants at the absolute lowest or $50,000. This is another area of gross incompetence, which is the way we pay for a social safety net.

It baffles the rest of the world, “Why could the wealthiest country in the world not have even the basic health program for its most vulnerable, poorest, and working people?” Not people out of work who don’t have it, but working people, nobody asks the most obvious question.

“How do they pay for it in the rest of the world?” Every other nation has it. They never said it. It is because it is distributed. The cost of the social safety net is distributed across businesses, but on a fair topline basis.

Everyone shoulders it equally based on sales. In America, we count on a head tax basis. It means a restaurant will pay 100 times the rate of employment tax that big tobacco will, as a percentage of sales. 100 times!

So, these are the kind of baked in policy choices that encourage a maximum degree of wealth transference from the poor to the rich and from the young to the old. These are choices that have been made through the use of power and wealth.

It’s baked into our cake now. We’re feeling the consequences of it ever more sharply. What a great time.

Jacobsen: Thanks so much.

Shelton: My pleasure, very much appreciated.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Aeon Hospitality.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 15, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4) [Online]. April 2021; 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, April 15). Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A, April. 2021. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A (April 2021). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 26.A (2021): April. 2021. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Economics and Banking Systems: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (4) [Internet]. (2021, April 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-4.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 26.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (21)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 8, 2021

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,719

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Chef Craig Shelton has over 40 years of experience in science-based cooking and teaching in the hospitality business. He trained in eight of the world’s greatest restaurants, including “El Bulli”, “Jamin”; “Ma Maison”, “L’Auberge de l’Ill”, “Le Pré Catelan”, “Bouley”, “Le Bernardin”, and “La Côte Basque. Chef Shelton has earned countless awards as Chef-Owner of his own restaurants including a James Beard Best Chef medal, NY Times 4-Stars ratings on four separate occasions, a 5-Star Forbes rating, the Relais & Châteaux Grand Chef title; and Number One Top Restaurant in America in 2004 from GQ. Mr. Shelton is also an instructor at Princeton University in the Princeton Environmental Institute, where he teaches a freshman seminar on the interrelationships between public policy, agriculture, diet-related disease and anthropogenic climate change. Mr. Shelton began his expertise in this area while an undergraduate of Yale where he earned his degree in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry. He is a co-founder of the think tank, Princeton Center for Food Studies, the founder of King’s Row Coffee, and a co-founder of Aeon Holistic Agriculture, Inc. He is recognized as a consummate business consultant with specialization in macro finance. He is known for his ability to generate excitement in his cooks and instill in them the drive toward excellence by connecting all aspects of gastronomy to the larger intellectual landscape – chemistry, ecology, literature, art and human physiology. His great passions are reading and ocean sailing. His full C.V. can be seen here. More about Aeon HospitalityMountainville ManorAeon Holistic AgricultureKings Row Coffee, and Princeton Studies Food (in the hyperlinks provided). He discusses: common sense and scientific tenability; and motivation.

Keywords: Aeon Hospitality, agriculture, Craig Shelton, farming, human health, motivation, nutrition.

Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What about on the side of food production? In other words, making a dish, delivering it to the plate of individual customers, what have been some big things taken as folk wisdom or common sense in the culinary arts, which are simply not scientifically tenable?

Master Chef Craig Shelton[1],[2]*: Yes, sometimes, I think only the Marquis de Sade could have designed the restaurant business model.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Shelton: You could not have designed a model more poorly to do the bigger issues with consistency, delivering high quality. All businesses are supposed to have three divisions: marketing, finance, and operations.

The restaurants, especially independent restaurants, are basically operations divisions. For generations, they only had operations. There is no finance. A bookkeeper comes in and does the damage report every once in a while.

You have no marketing department with a whole group of people who study markets and test ideas and determine memes. None of that happens. I think it is partially because we have defaulted to the critic.

You have these evangelists, originally, in the industry. The connoisseur type critic who is out to spread the gospel and the wonder of arts at the table. It was kind of lovely, but it also invited a certain intellectual laziness saying, “We don’t need to market. That’s the job of the critic.”

When you’re not making a promise to your clients, things get wobbly really fast. It’s a lack of clarity of what operations should be fulfilling. The purpose of marketing is to make promises and powerful promises, and successful promises.

As you build the business, the promises should be meaningful to the market. They should be unique and explicit. People should know what it is that they’re expecting. All of that is completely missing.

If you were to say, “What are the implicit promises?” Since no one has a tagline, if you have a company like Federal Express, we can all remember the opening regional tagline when it positively has to be there overnight.

That is an extraordinary promise in all regards, extremely valuable to the people who use the service. It is unique. No one else can have an overnight guarantee. Thirdly, it is explicit. It is laid out.

None of that is happening in the restaurant industry. You are left with the default premises based on the word “restaurant,” which is from the French restaurer. So, what is it we are promising to restore? We are promising to restore the traditional health of the body.

Of course, wouldn’t you know? That is the absolute largest gap in the pedagogy of cooking schools. There is no training on nutrition, especially on up to date modern nutrition. What about the second? The emotional welfare, the restoring of emotional state of happiness.

Much of that occurs through the intermediation between the senses: taste, smell, touch, and so forth, guess what? There is a second great lacuna missing in the pedagogy of cooking school. There’s no teaching about the neurophysiology of the senses, none whatsoever.

This is why you will see every cookbook with such inanities as ‘seasoned to taste.’

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Shelton: Because if you understand how fluid the sense organs work, the one thing that you can never trust is sense. The momentary rigour of your sense organs. It can be extraordinarily precise, if you will, in measuring the change, the first derivative.

The change, “The thing I just tasted is this saltiness. The thing I tasted now.” It can be a high degree of precision in noticing the change. However, because of fatigue or desensitization, it is remarkable how unreliable the sense organs are.

The nominal quantity, the actual degree of salinity, the actual degree of acidity, the actual degree of sweetness. It can be off by many magnitudes of order because of the immediate prehistory of what has happened before.

Jacobsen: On a personal level, where do you get your motivation? It’s not simply having a high ability level and channeling it. It is drive too. For some, they acquire this from a personal faith. Others, they acquire this from an individual preference for challenge.

Others see it based in some kind of abstract ethical duties. Others, they want to make a living.

Shelton: I judge this by a moral imperative. I grew up as a dual-citizen in the full sense of the word. I enjoy the culture deeply. I was introduced to gastronomy. Here’s what I kept noticing, when I was in France, we ate with reckless abandon, including dessert. No one counted a calorie.

I always lost weight. Enjoying the food to the Nth degree, never measuring anything, never leaving the table hungry, always fulfilled, happy, experiencing the highest states of clarity, cognitive clarity, which I recall.

Then I come back to America to the standard American grain-based diet. I feel sluggish, comparatively, put on weight until it was uncomfortable. So, this is one reality. I am experiencing this.

I am going through high school science classes and chemistry, physics. I am being told a calorie is a calorie is a calorie. Obviously, all of the problems in this society are the fact that we need to justify the idiotic thing called Occam’s Razor.

This belief that when multiple solutions present themselves, then the simplest one is the most correct one. What is the basis for the claim? There is no basis for that. In fact, human experience should tell us the exact opposite.

Almost all things, in fact, that are important that we want to understand require complex systems mathematics, which very few of us are comfortable with and employ. We would rather have this totalitarian Napoleonic-type tale of the totalitarians, which is a desire for a simple folk tale.

To look at all this, and to look at what the standard American diet has done for human health here, and around the world, this grain-based diet and industrial seed oil called vegetable oil replacing wild, organic, 100% grass-fed animal fats.

It has caused more death and more economic harm, and more medical harm, than all the wars America has fought put together. This is a great breaking of the trust, in my mind. It is the idea restaurants are supposed to be peddling life.

Whereas, most of them are peddling death. Many of them are not aware of it. There is a way, in my life. I have been desperately trying to show through Aeon (Hospitality) with combining gastronomy and agriculture some things to people.

The reason French cuisine is still possibly the best cuisine on Earth is because French agriculture is the most beneficial, the healthiest, agriculture. It is the nation that made the decision-tree based on behaviour based on hedonism.

Whereas, everyone else was compromising that with economics. No one worse than America. To me, America and France (and Japan) represent the ends of the spectrum of agriculture. America, I can describe it as corn disguised as protein and water disguised as produce.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Shelton: Toxic water disguised as produce. That’s what is interesting. Our entire feedback loop is the FDA, which only concerns itself with shape and colour. They don’t even measure nutrient density or nutrient composition.

It is purely superficial, which is exactly the right mechanism if what you’re selling is corn disguised as protein and water disguised as produce. So, even in my work at Princeton, people are much more comfortable with the simple map of unstacked agricultural systems.

Let’s compare the yield in calories, a mono-cultural yield of corn versus a mono-cultural yield of beef. Of course, you’re going to get more calories from corn. However, regenerative agriculture, especially integrated livestock systems, are not to be understood in terms of monoculture, but in terms of multi-culture. It means stacked systems.

You can have trees. You can have fruits. You can have a cycling on-and-off lands, which increases the fertility and the nitrogen fixation. The nutrient density of the produce can skyrocket. The quality of the protein and, most importantly, the quality of the fats skyrockets.

There’s a massive deficit worldwide. The major deficit worldwide is Omega-3. We have these damn vegetable oils. The point, which I am trying to make, is: If you use rotational management of herds and rotational management of produce, and those are well-understood, you rotate those two rotations on parcels of lands.

You end up with a pretty extraordinary case of biomimicry, which captures carbon. So, the net result is a reduction of carbon in the atmosphere. You end up with extraordinarily healthy output as a byproduct of the sale.

In a sense, the price of everything comes down, as long as you have the same scale. That’s the only reason industrial agriculture is able to produce – if you want to call it – food products. The only reason a tomato or a cucumber raised in an industrial farm is less expensive than an organic version is because of scale.

Industrial farms can be 10,000 acres. Most of our organic farms are mini-mom-and-pop places with 2, 5, or 100 acres. They are too small to use the same labour saving equipment. The automated carrot harvester that can do the work of 50 people, better, with less damage to the carrot and to the soil, etc.

For a long time, I have been trying to make a proof of concept to get to the next real level. Where, you are not farming 100 acres, but farming 5,000 acres with this labour-saving equipment. This is the idea of replacing extractive systems with generative systems.

The center piece, most of these problems, e.g., climate change. If we converted 60% of the crop land that we have remaining over to these carbon negative, regenerative, integrated systems, we would have more food than the current system.

We would be growing topsoil instead of destroying topsoil. We would have infinitely healthier human outcomes, so drop the cost of medical expenditures, including diseases of civilization caused by a high grain-based, high-glycemic index, toxic thing.

At the end of the day, this is the idea of integrating all of these things for the love of the biological sciences. My love of cuisine and human health. It is the diet related aspects of human health. The natural health of the planet, planetary sciences, ecological sciences, the environmental part of it.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Aeon Hospitality.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 8, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3) [Online]. April 2021; 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, April 8). Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3). Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A, April. 2021. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A (April 2021). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 26.A (2021): April. 2021. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Master Chef Craig Shelton on Common Sense Versus Scientific Validity, and Motivation: Founder, Aeon Hospitality (3) [Internet]. (2021, April 26(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/shelton-3.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Justice for Accused and Convicted ‘Witches’ Everywhere

Author: Dr. Leo Igwe

Numbering: Issue 1.B, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 7, 2021

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 623

Keywords: Advocacy for Alleged Witches, Claire Mitchell, Leo Igwe, Scottish, Uganda, Wtchcraft Act.

Justice for Accused and Convicted ‘Witches’ Everywhere[1],[2]

Dr. Leo Igwe is the Founder of the Humanist Association of Nigeria, the Founder & CEO of Advocacy for Alleged Witches, and the Convener of the Decade of Activism Against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030. 

The Advocacy for Alleged Witches(AfAW) welcomes a petition calling on the Scottish government to pardon those accused and convicted as witches under the Witchcraft Act of 1563. This initiative is significant because it underscores a well-known fact that persons accused and convicted for witchcraft in Scotland were unjustly treated.

It is pertinent that this historic miscarriage of justice is acknowledged and remedied in some way. The petition asks the parliament to memorialize the victims of witch hunts in Scotland. One hopes that the Scottish parliament would answer this call.

AFAW applauds the Scottish lawyer, Claire Mitchell, who is championing this effort. Claire launched the “Witches of Scotland” campaign to rehabilitate witch-trial victims in 2020. She claimed that the Metoo movement emboldened her to seek a redress of this historic injustice. It has been noted that “Scotland’s parliament in March will debate a blanket rehabilitation for the thousands of people, mostly women, executed for alleged witchcraft. In the late 16th century, Scottish monarch, King James VI participated as an interrogator in witch trials and wrote a book about how to detect and prosecute witches. For generations, almost no one in the country defended alleged witches or acknowledged a family connection to them”. As Claire rightly pointed out, “We feel strongly that there needs to be a reckoning”. Indeed there is.

AFAW is delighted by this campaign to redress the injustices that alleged witches suffered centuries ago. Unfortunately, alleged witches have continued to suffer unfair and unjust treatment in many parts of the world today. Although, accusation and conviction of alleged witches belong to the past in Scotland, witch persecution rages in many places across the globe- from Africa to Oceania to the Indian subcontinent.

In Ghana, Nigeria, the Central African Republic, Malawi, Kenya, and South Africa, thousands of alleged witches who are mainly old women, and children are routinely attacked, lynched, stoned to death, banished, or imprisoned. In most cases, efforts to redress the unjust treatment of alleged witches are few and far apart, if at all, because the state is often complicit in the miscarriage of justice. States fail in their responsibility to prevent witch persecution or to protect alleged witches. They turn a blind eye to the persecution of alleged witches and sometimes indulge in prosecution and conviction of accused persons.

In cases where states intervene, it is usually too little too late. The police arrive after the alleged witch has been murdered; they make some arrests, or they claim that the suspects are at large. In Nigeria, the government has yet to arrest and prosecute those who set ablaze 15 suspected witches in Boki, Cross River State in Southern Nigeria. The incident took place in May last year and no steps have been taken to ensure justice in the case. In Ghana, the government has taken no measures to remedy the injustices against suspected witches. Thousands of them are languishing in various ‘witch camps’ in the Northern region. Instead, the government of Ghana is threatening to shut down these places of refuge for the accused. It must be noted that in some parts of Nigeria, suspected witches are subjected to post-mortem witch trials. And if confirmed as a witch, the body is burned, buried in a forest or thrown into a river.

So injustice against alleged witches did not only take place in Scotland and did not happen only centuries ago. Injustice against accused persons is not only a thing of the past; it is also a thing of the present. Any campaign to remedy the historic injustice against accused and convicted witches in Scotland should be used to highlight contemporary manifestations of witch persecution including other cases of miscarriage of justice against suspected witches in other parts of the world.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Humanist Association of Nigeria; Founder & CEO, Advocacy for Alleged Witches; Convener, Decade of Activism Against Witch Persecution in Africa: 2020-2030.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 7, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/justice-for-accused-and-convicted-witches-everywhere.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight Publishing, and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Ask Mubarak 7 – Et Tu? Two: How Bad Could Things Get?

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 1.A, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 7, 2021

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 658

Keywords: Mubarak Bala, Nigeria, nonbelievers, religion, secular.

Ask Mubarak 7 – Et Tu? Two: How Bad Could Things Get?[1],[2]

*Interview originally published February 13, 2020, in Canadian Atheist.*

Mubarak Bala is the President of the Humanist Association of Nigeria. We will be conducting this educational series to learn more about Humanism and secularism within Nigeria. Here we talk about punishments against him, this was shortly before the imprisonment. 

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What was the reason for the punishment by the religious fundamentalists against you?

Mubarak Bala: I was mostly threatened in the hope I recant and convert, the punishment was largely medical, with false diagnosis; I was administered epileptic drugs even as I was not.

The other punishments meted were isolation, boycott, seizure of assets by parents, and disinheritance, in hope that the elements get me. Several times I had nothing, and no friends, but other times, a few loyal friends and relatives come to the rescue.

The cultures are never tainted nor refined by the colonists here in the north. So, they are in their pristine forms, with all the accompanying misogyny and patriarchy, as well as elements of slavery and archaic punishments.

But I was lucky to be economically above the mob class, the middle class are mostly respected, as they have something to offer financially, which I did at most times, to be safe from those around me, of the lower socioeconomic class, which produces most of the mob.

Jacobsen: More on the state and punishment of nonbelievers. How did religion and state converge for the punishment of you?

Bala: The Kano government practices sharia, and when I left Kano, they announced that I have converted back, and that I have apologized for my blasphemy. The laws of the Federation are secular, and superior to the state’s laws, and as such, secular cities such as the capital, provided an escape.

The society mostly copies from the cultures of the Middle East and North Africa, and even though these cultures have long weaned off Islamism and are fighting it, in many fronts, the region here, makes sure no one wakes up, by tagging any progressive ideas as alien, western, satanic, bound for hell, and dangerous.

The real emancipation came with the internet, for this landlocked region, with the highest number of out of school children, highest birthrate globally, and the highest poverty rate.

The internet, not only brought home the information catalyst; no, it also allowed for secularists and rationalists to come together, form a community, socialize, help each other, befriend and network, as well as safely debate without actually meeting people, or jeopardizing their location and privacy.

Although, the big media locked us out; and the social media shuts down many of our accounts, based on the number of complaints over blasphemy and anonymity for those who could not really reveal their real identity. We endure, and forge ahead.

Atheist, agnostic and humanist ideals are now normalized even if not accepted. Instead of threats of actual violence, over the years, all we now endure is hate speech and threats of imagined monsters supposedly after we die naturally. A lot has been done, and there is progress…

Jacobsen: What were the justifications for the punishment of a nationally leading humanist with some international renowned?

Bala: Honor, prestige, conservatism, puritanism, narrow mindedness, fear of imagined gods, lessons to be set so others would not tread such path of apostasy.

In the end, they succeeded in only earning the cause more publicity, embarrassing themselves and rubbishing the system since they actually are corrupt, and also do such sins they caution against, sins they fear would be normalized, such as adultery and fornication, even as videos of their sexual escapades emerge online, with even little children.

In the end, though, something good happened, even theists now tilt aware from the hitherto trendy fanaticism, jihadism and fundamentalism, online, on-air and even in town hall gatherings.

It is all a new phenomena, a new social revolution, overturning the age-old system on itself. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter trends from northern Nigeria, is now awash with #MeToo like narratives, #NewIdeas as well as #SocialChange tags which most importantly, is led by young ladies, under 30, defiant and progressive. There is hope for the next generation.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Mubarak.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, In-Sight Publishing.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 7, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/ask-mubarak-7-et-tu-two-how-bad-could-things-get.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight Publishing, and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Ask Takudzwa 16 – Minorities within Majorities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Author: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 1.A, Idea: African Freethinking

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: African Freethinker

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 7, 2021

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: One Time Per Year

Words: 278

Keywords: Humanist Society of Zimbabwe, science, Takudzwa Mazwienduna, Zimbabwe, Zimbabwean Secular Alliance.

Ask Takudzwa 16 – Minorities within Majorities[1],[2]

*Interview originally published November 30, 2019, in Canadian Atheist.*

Takudzwa Mazwienduna is the informal leader of Zimbabwean Secular Alliance and a Member of the Humanist Society of Zimbabwe. This educational series will explore secularism in Zimbabwe from an organizational perspectiveand more. Here we talk about Zimbabwean humanists and science, and vigilance.

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Zimbabwean humanists, as with other nations’ humanists, will remain a minority for the foreseeable future. Its emphasis on science may limit the degree to which individuals may adhere to the principles of humanism as a complete set. What will be some barriers involving scientific topics into the mainstream of the culture through the advancement of humanism with science component and chip of it?

Takudzwa Mazwienduna: Indeed, scientific literacy is a barrier since many Zimbabweans do not take the discipline as seriously as they do religion. Most of them understand science as a Western concept rather than the universal aspect it is.

Most people see it as a troublesome useless subject that should stay in the classroom and be done only by those crazy enough to be interested in it. Most Zimbabweans also probably can’t tell the difference between science and Scientology.

Implicating science in worldview matters won’t fly in most Zimbabwean circles. If anything, most will see it as Satanism as they do everything else that contradicts their Christian beliefs.

Jacobsen: What does this minority status within the larger religious demographics mean for the humanist community in Zimbabwe in political and social involvement (when that time comes as it must)?

Mazwienduna: It means the Humanist Society in Zimbabwe should remain vigilant and bold if they want to stay relevant in socio-political circles. We should stand up for secularism every time it is compromised and as long as the law is on our side, making sure it is enforced is the best we can do. All the weight we can give it.

Jacobsen: Thank you for the opportunity and your time, Takudzwa.

Mazwienduna: Thank you, Scott.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, In-Sight Publishing.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 7, 2021: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/ask-takudzwa-16-minorities-within-majorities.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, In-Sight Publishing, and African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 26.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (21)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: April 1, 2021

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,534

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract

Ricardo Rosselló Nevares holds a PhD in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. He graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) with a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering with a concentration in Developmental Economics. Rosselló continued his academic studies at the University of Michigan, where he completed a master’s degree and a PhD in Bioengineering and Biotechnology. After finalizing his doctoral studies, he completed post-doctoral studies in neuroscience at Duke University, in North Carolina, where he also served as an investigator. Dr. Rosselló was a tenure track assistant professor for the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus and Metropolitan University, teaching courses in medicine, immunology, and biochemistry. Dr. Rosselló’s scientific background and training also makes him an expert in important developing areas such as genetic manipulation and engineering, stem cells, viral manipulation, cancer, tissue engineering and smart materials. He discusses: American political extremes; and the coronavirus for Puerto Ricans.

Keywords: complexity, coronavirus, leadership, Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rosselló Nevares.

Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4)

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Looking at Canada, as a comparative metric, we have the similar situation with two dominant parties, but three minor to moderate-sized parties in terms of election numbers. In the United States, much more extreme with the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. You see a  bit with the Green Party and the Liberty Party.

I think you may see this with the Pirate Party or something. Extreme support of anything science-supporting in policy. I don’t know if it is thought out much beyond that. This binary of two extremes becoming more extreme, as you stated it.

It is, certainly, reflective of a condition of the United States that is concerning because when the wind blows with the United States. You don’t what other boats it is going to rock if not bump into because it $20,000,000,000,000+.

Only the European Union and the People’s Republic China have a similar kind of financial force. What are you seeing as some of the root sources of these divisions that  then lead to this bifurcation, this splitting into extremes in either direction?

Dr. Ricardo Rosselló[1],[2]*: I think this phenomena, even though it is occurring in the United States, as you said, is reverberating in many different parts of the world. I think there is a reason or several reasons for this. One, I think social media has changed the game.

There are a lot of voices, which is good. Now, the sort of negative symptom that I see. Unless, you make an outrageous claim. You really won’t get covered. Let’s take healthcare, you have three folks. One says, “I have this proposal: work with the insurance companies, work with choice. This and that,” sort of nuance.

Another says, “Let’s completely privatize healthcare.” Another says, ‘Let’s give healthcare completely for free.” Who do you think is going to get more attention?

Jacobsen: [Laughing]

Rosselló: It is, unfortunately in my view, the person who says, “Just give it for free,” versus the guy who says, “Privatize everything,” because it is a sort of a seemingly simplistic solution to a very complex problem. That’s a fell swoop.

I’m not diminishing. There are some things where solutions may be like that. I’m saying not all the solutions are like that. In fact, many are complex and nuanced. You need to think of secondary and tertiary effects.

What do I think keeps on happening? People see that the more extreme – I do not mean “extreme” derogatorily – or on the fringes that you make a statement, or the bolder the accusation or the bolder the statement, then the more coverage you’re going to get.

It is a symptom of something. Someone might have an interest analytical solution to one of these problems. Nobody cares. That’s one thing. A second thing, I lived this. I told myself as an element of discipline when I was governor, “I am not going to attack the opposition. I am going to oppose them on policy issues.”

The strength of the personal and negative attack, the effect of it, is so much greater than anything positive that you can do. Inevitably, a rational player in the game will always say, “If I want to get to do this, I will have to play by these rules and will have to get nastier.”

If Nancy Pelosi stands up and says, “I kind of disagree with President Trump.” It is not the same as saying, “That guy is crazy and has to be imprisoned.” What one of the two is going to get the headlines? That’s where I think this complexity is a little bit out of hand in a way.

Jacobsen: It’s our fault as journalists too. We play into this.

Rosselló: It’s everybody’s fault. It is like a chicken and an egg thing. People want to consume something. Take CNN, for example, CNN was – 20 years ago, 15 years ago – maybe, left-leaning, but center-left. It was sort of an editorial push.

Washington Post over here, as well. It has gone to a place, where it is very bold, strict statements that fly in the face and catch your attention. When you see that, and you’re producing as a media entity, you see; there’s been other media outlets that have tried to stay informing the news.

Those have died out. Again, taking just the news shows, I say “CNN.” But you could apply this to anyone. Back in the day, I remember watching with my grandfather Crossfire. It was the talking heads show. The rest was the news. Now, it’s the opposite. It’s like there’s an opinion show 50 minutes out of every hour, then it’s like “this happened.”

Because of the strength of that, there has been this emergent phenomenon. In my view, there is this big center. That was partially my calculation and I’ll tell you how I failed. There is this big center looking for rational solutions. Neither from the left or the right.

What is the rational solution to improve the quality of life of the people in my jurisdiction? Because the initial conditions in Puerto Rico are different than the initial conditions in Vancouver. Policy that might apply there might not apply here.

My view was, “I’m going to try to apply this scientific approach.” But because I was so tame, in the middle, I was sort of over-run by the corners. Then there’s another thing that you said. I want to be watchful. I don’t to pass judgment.

But I want to be watchful. I hear people say, “Let’s listen to science. Let’s listen to the experts.” I hope this doesn’t become a tag sentence that becomes cute. Because you can repeat it over and over again. There’s so much noise. They won’t be able to tell the difference.

I can envision two paths. Either we say it and we do it. I have some ideas on how we can get there. Or people say it. They will say it from both sides, but just use different data to support their claims.

Jacobsen: Sure [Laughing], which is primarily anti-scientific.

Rosselló: It is! It is. Even though, on the top layer of it, it is “trust science, trust science, trust science,” but it is really “trust science only if it fits into your storyboard.” Before, there was not a lot of information. People didn’t have enough information, perhaps, to make the correct choice.

Now, there’s so much information. I fear people have an innate feeling of something: “I like this” or “I like that.” They will pick-and-choose whatever data fits into that as opposed to being persuaded because the data is so strong on one side and so strong on the other.

To me, one of the clear issues is climate change. I make no apologies that climate change is happening and is happening at a very speedy rate. Not only do I say this as a scientist, I say this as somebody who had to lead a jurisdiction was the third hardest hit jurisdiction in global climate change in the world.

I – literally – saw an island off the coast of Puerto Rico called Palominito. It was there four years ago. It’s not there anymore. I’ve seen the hurricanes, of course. I have seen the coastlines. For Republicans, unfortunately, depends on your prism, to have veered into this opposition view of climate change – some of them, it seems ludicrous to me.

Because there’s no more conservative agenda in the galaxy than avoiding climate change.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Rosselló: Somehow, some way, “if my opponent is here, I have to be in a stark contrast over here. Otherwise, I get railroaded.” There’s a lot of that happening. There’s two paths. It could unravel a little bit. My gut tells me: it’ll unravel for a little bit longer, then things will, like the ebbs and flows of waves, start coming back to the shoreline.

It is still concerning to see that that is the paradigm and whoever yells loudest and has the craziest claim has a seat at the table.

Jacobsen: In Canada, our most cited doctor is a epidemiologist named Gordon Guyatt. He makes the distinction between equity and autonomy in medical systems. Western European, most North Americans excluding the United States, value equity when it comes to healthcare.

So, then you get kind of a nationalized healthcare system, in the United States, they value autonomy more, so get privatization more in healthcare. So, he doesn’t make it in terms of a judgment, but the outcome you would expect in different situations of evaluation, intersubjective national evaluation of what matters in certain areas.

Even in Canada, he said ‘by accident’ to me. We don’t have pharmacare [Laughing]. Some Western European countries have pharmacare, which allows them to bargain better. In Puerto Rico, you have a situation in which healthcare and pharmacare are not present.

Yet, after your term in office, Puerto Rico has the coronavirus impacting it. There is a distance from other areas in which there may be more supplies to give the citizenry. How are Puerto Ricans handling the coronavirus? What is the situation for ordinary citizens?

Rosselló: I think it is similar to what is happening in the United States, but with a wider broken structural integrity. When you look at a black elephant event, like a pandemic, some say it is a black swan, because it is unexpected. I think we should expect pandemics.

We should embed them into the design of whatever it is that we are doing. Now, you could see countries that do that responding better. There’s a plethora of different factors. It is hard to compare a democratic society to an autocratic society and how they respond.

Whether you like it or not, that matters, but there are some things that I think are important in this. It’s one of the big things. If we move forward with this scientific mentality in the United States and in the world, I do believe there is a need to create what other places have created.

But we need to tailor it more to a Western mindset, which is a foresight capability. The way I see this is people talk about science and people talk about government. Let me go back philosophically to what I have found are the major differences between being a political figure and a scientist, I happen to be both.

The scientist, typically, explores ad nauseam, looks for every little thing, analyzes, has the whole map in front of them, but are reluctant to make a conclusion from it. They, typically – and by “typically,” I mean “we typically,” the political figure needs no evidence, a whim or an intuition if you will. Some have it; some don’t.

They can make a very clear and concrete determination based on it. If this is the starting point, if you agree with this concept that this is a starting point, and if we endeavour to merge the world’s of science and politics and policy, there needs to be some bridges made to approximate that.

To me, one possible solution, they may be many, which may be better. One possible solution is creating or establishing a basis of your government, like the judicial system, but a system of foresight that is there to do a few functions.

Number one, to care-take for longer term projects, one of the advantages, for example, which could be a disadvantage as well; one of the advantages that Qatar or one of those places has the autocratic rule saying, “The next 40 years, we are going to invest here. This is what is going to happen.”

The liability in the democratic system is I could come and say, “We’re going to invest here,” and then a few years later. Somebody comes to say, “No, no, scratch that, we’re going to invest here.” It might be good, but that might also be bad for long-term growth.

We need to start segregating some of these things that are infrastructure, for example. It needs to be always changing, but a longer term endeavour because, otherwise, you’re never going to see those results. Similarly, crisis and disaster management is something that’s rarely on the mind of elected officials.

Because they operate – their space of operation is solving the problems right ahead or looking forward to a brighter future, but avoiding all these inconveniences, avoiding earthquakes, avoiding pandemics. I see that one possible path is creating a foresight function, embed it into government.

You put scientists there. But also, you put project managers there. The idea is you have all of these people in a dormant state for some time planning, preparing, and doing these things with foresight, expecting, and helping.

In the dormant state, you help the leader develop his path. So, you give the leader, “Hey, here are all the conditions, these are all the things that we see. These are all of the facts. You create a path forward. These are the things that we see. These are the things that we need to look at, and consider.”

Say an earthquake, a hurricane, or a pandemic hit, then these teams, different to the rest of the political establishment, they’re ready to be activated, because they are thinking about this all the time. You couple this with project management, then you deploy.

Now, for example, the United States has FEMA. FEMA is another big bureaucratic monster. It gives a lot of money and that’s great. But it is nowhere near as effective. I’ve had this thought for four years. I tried to implement this in Puerto Rico.

It was a long-term path forward. The pandemic highlights why this is necessary. With the pandemic, you are battling a virus that is really 14-days ahead of you. A lot of policymakers that didn’t understand that were always going to be behind the curve.

They were reacting what is happening today. What is really happening, it is what you are projecting happening in 14 days. I think establishing that model will be very helpful. So, bringing it back to Puerto Rico and to the United States, I think they lack that model. Singapore has that model. Great Britain in some parts has that model.

Again, other factors, just by the sheer or the immediate reaction of some of these countries, “Hey, put a mask on”; whereas, others took months. The numbers are staggering in terms of the difference that one fact provided. I think there needs to be that bridge between science and policy, and politics.

There needs to be that institutionalized mentality of how we create this. I know it’s very raw how I foresee it. But I envision it as a judicial system if you will, which runs parallel and takes care of some of these things that are longer term and reacts to these phenomena.

To me, what is evidently clear, whether for good or for bad, complexity is going to keep increasing. If you have people thinking linearly in positions of power, they’re going to shoot themselves in the foot one time after the next.

Whereas, if you have people understanding complexity, maybe not controlling it, but, at least, understanding it, it changes the ballgame completely.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Former Governor, Puerto Rico.

[2] Individual Publication Date: April 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2021: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

*High range testing (HRT) should be taken with honest skepticism grounded in the limited empirical development of the field at present, even in spite of honest and sincere efforts. If a higher general intelligence score, then the greater the variability in, and margin of error in, the general intelligence scores because of the greater rarity in the population.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4) [Online]. April 2021; 26(A). Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2021, April 1). Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4). Retrieved from https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A, April. 2021. <https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2021. Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A. https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 26.A (April 2021). https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A. Available from: <https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2021, ‘Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 26.A., https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 26.A (2021): April. 2021. Web. <https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Conversation with Dr. Ricardo Rosselló Nevares on the American Social and Political Framework, and Puerto Rico and the Coronavirus: Former Governor, Puerto Rico (4) [Internet]. (2021, April 26(A). Available from: https://in-sightjournal.com/rossello-4.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen and In-Sight Publishing 2012-2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. All interviewees and authors co-copyright their material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

%d bloggers like this: