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An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,938

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Stacey Piercey is the Co-Chair of the Ministry of Status of Women Sub-Committee of Human Rights for CFUW FCFDU and Vice Chair of the National Women’s Liberal Commission for the Liberal Party of Canada. She discusses: paths of misunderstanding transgender individuals; misinformation and disinformation campaigns; best definition of a transgender individual; definitions and misunderstandings over time; what is the same in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood in those who are trans women and who are not trans; what is different in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood compared to someone who is not a trans woman; what are the disproportionately negative life outcomes for trans women in different domains of their lives; and the different paths and shades of those paths available to trans women in terms of making the transition in Canada.

Keywords: Co-Chair, Liberal Party of Canada, Ministry of Status of Women, Stacey Piercey, Vice Chair.

An Interview with Stacey Piercey: Co-Chair – Ministry of Status of Women Sub-Committee of Human Rights, CFUW FCFDU; Vice Chair National Women’s Liberal Commission at Liberal Party of Canada | Parti libéral du Canada (Part Two)[1],[2]

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: To set some more of the theoretical and empirical groundwork of the extended educational conversation over the coming weeks, I see two streams of misunderstanding about trans individuals. One is simple, relatively benign ignorance; another is deliberate misinformation and disinformation campaigns, through multiple media and social media channels, to scapegoat vulnerable members of society for cultural-political points.  To the simple, relatively benign ignorance, what seems like the source of this? What are the individual and interpersonal consequences for trans-Canadians?

Stacey Piercey: You are right to say that there exist two streams of misunderstanding about transgender individuals. There is ignorance, and that is understandable to a degree, not everyone is aware of what it is like to be transgender. It is a unique experience to the transgender individual. I can relate to you some common themes that I have observed. I can share as much information as humanly possible. If it was easy to explain, I guess there wouldn’t be such a need for advocacy or education.

As you know, this is not something that everyone will encounter. There will always be a lack of knowledge and some ignorance. Just like how I don’t know everything about other groups in society. I do trust that their experience is real, and I can understand to a degree the issues that are faced in other communities by relating my experiences. We are talking about intersectionality, overcoming our differences and the knowledge gained from being able to connect with others. That requires empathy. I learned a while ago to relate to people by addressing common interests and not pointing out differences. I like to connect with others and learn from them. That is my style, to find common ground and solutions were ever possible. I see myself often having conversations about being transgender and answering questions asked of me. People do want to understand and want to help, especially since this has become a relevant social issue.

The other type of ignorance has hurt me, and that is the deliberate misinformation and disinformation campaign that seems to be ongoing. I don’t understand the motives, yet it does exist. Sometimes it is political, sometimes they are exclusionary and sometimes this is outright hate. You may say there is no such thing as bad publicity, but there is, what someone sees in media affects me. I find myself judged unfairly, asked to defend myself or explain myself. I sometimes struggle, as I am seen only as a transgender individual. It is hard when every day all you see are these negative stories. And I know the difference, so I can’t imagine the opinions being formed by others as they watch or read these stories. In Canada, we have moved further along in the conversation when it comes to transgender issues. Our policies are about inclusion and integration. It is no longer about our right to exist. That is happening in other countries, such as the USA and Great Britain right now, as they are having a national conversation. It is a big media machine that has overtaken our story to a degree. I feel like I when back in time watching this unfold, I even forget this is not relevant to me as a Canadian. But it is. You see stories that use outright fear, to pray on these individuals and to make life harder for transgender people in general. We are such a small portion of the population, we have never had privileges, steady jobs, housing or opportunities likes others, and transpeople suffer this incredible onslaught in the media that doesn’t make it easy to live a normal life. My only explanation is that there is money to be made hating transgender people, or there is joy in abusing and oppressing a small minority. It is all beyond me; I was raised to help people, not to hurt them. I honestly have to say I struggle to find good positive stories. And that is wrong.

2. Jacobsen: For the misinformation and disinformation campaigns, what seems like the source for this? What are the individual and interpersonal consequences for trans Canadians?

Piercey: If I was the venture a guess, it is political. For any change to occur for transgender people, we need the support of the media. Good and bad stories bring awareness to the issues. I don’t know if there is a dividing line among groups when it comes to transgender individuals. I have met so many people despite their background, and once they come to know I am transgender, they always say I have a friend, a relative that is transgender. It is a tough life they have, can you help or have any advice. My experience is everyone knows of someone who is transgender in a way. Therefore when it comes to transgender issues, you get every political background creating awareness, some views are extreme, over the top and sensationalized, but it is always someones else’s interpretation of transgender people. In Canada, during our campaign for human rights, we wanted them to come out of the closet, be seen and know it is okay to be transgender. It was time to step forward and say there is a problem that needed to be solved. There were no government statistics; there were no supports, and often these issues were not classified as transgender.

There is another side to this campaign against transgender people, and that is some are not ready for a change in society. They don’t help you; they want you to go away and keep you out of sight. Or worse as I found, I was used, I would work hard, and I ran into empire building. I would have these great ideas and solutions, and others would take credit. I was not respected. Thus not everyone is supportive. In this country, I have seen change occur very shortly through government and businesses. How I am received now is different than it was years ago. The thing is, as a community, we don’t have the population to instill change; we don’t have the experts, we don’t have the representation and are reliant on others to help. We are small in numbers; we are not in control of the conversation, often we are not included, and there is no consensus. I am into policy, and the problem I see, is that this is very expensive to put a gender-neutral washroom in every building, it is expensive to paint a rainbow crosswalk, and it is advanced law, and advanced medicine. Not everybody is ready to deal with this, it is complex, and it needs viable solutions. There is not enough research, legal precedents and medical history to adequately deal with the problems at hand.

3. Jacobsen: Now, those amount to not knowing/being unaware or having imbibed illusory knowledge. To the factual basis of being transgender or a trans person, what best defines a trans individual – or the type of trans individuals – within the modern context? 

Piercey: When I grew up it was simple. It was very binary. You were either a man or a woman. You were born as one gender on the outside and felt like another on the inside. Then you went about the process of transitioning from one gender to another. You go through a transition phase where you are for me as an example, male, not male or female, then female. In my mind that was transgender, it was a term that defined people who transitioned, had their surgeries, did their paperwork and changed their lives from one gender to another.

It isn’t like that anymore; it has become non-binary. We have a third gender concept where people who are gender non conforming that fit into the terminology of transgender. I have heard over 50 classifications for gender. For many there is no desire to seek surgeries, they are okay with who they are, and I would say this new generation or new perspective is what you are seeing more of today. I met fewer people who have the same background or experience as I once did. They are out there, living opposite from the gender they are born in, you don’t notice them because they live stealth.

For me, that shared experience of transitioning, living a point in your life as neither gender, going through that process of change is what makes a transgender person different. It is not about, sexuality, it is about gender and questioning it and living with the knowledge that gender is a social construct. And at the same time, gender it is a big defining point for many individuals. When you remove gender from the individual, what is left but only the person? I see it now as a very open community, that is inclusionary to anyone questioning gender.

4. Jacobsen: How has the definition changed of “trans” or “transgender” over time into the present if at all? How have the misunderstandings changed over time if at all, too?

Piercey: I think in my life the definition of transgender has changed in that has gone from binary to a non-binary. That breaks down any traditional views of gender. I see transgender people as more gender fluid now whereas before it was about going from one gender to another. I am old school in a sense I live female, that is me. But I am floored by some on the new ideas that I have seen. I will be honest I find some of the new terminology and concepts difficult even for me to understand. I am okay with it; I think you should be yourself in this life. I can remember when this was simpler, it was discrete, and not political. That was before the internet and social media. We had support groups. Now it is all over the media; everyone has an opinion on gender. Everyone is sharing what they think. I believe we are watching a gender revolution. And transgender has changed just like society did with technology. I expect what it means to be transgender will continue to follow this evolution. I am all for new ideas, and I believe change is good.

Interestingly enough, the misunderstandings have not changed, for me. It is still the case where I am the representative of everything transgender. If someone sees a transgender story, they think I am like that too. How do you say, I am an individual and not some glorified stereotype.

5. Jacobsen: From your perspective and observations, as you relayed being identified as an elder – an elder trans woman, recently, what is the same in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood in those who are trans women and who are not trans?

Piercey: I am an elder, and I understand it is a term of endearment and respect. It is something I have been called personally many times, it is not a cultural thing for the transgender community. For me, it is more about being a survivor. For them, I am a role model, a faux parent, someone who is there with experience and guidance. You see, there are not many people like myself who have transitioned in life and have lived a long time. I have 20 years of experience and stories. A problem that exists is that there is little-recorded history. Whereas I have watched this grow, and I have watched a whole new generation come into the scene. I was always involved with the public, and I am in the transgender community too. People know I am the transgender Liberal, if they got a problem with the government, I will hear it first. Now if you want to know what it was like years ago, you have to ask my friends or me. In that sense I am an elder, I have within me the culture, the history and I can see the changes that have occurred. Another reason is that I have been called an elder is that I have made friends over the years with two spirited people from the indigenous population. That has grounded me, as I know transgender has been around forever, not a mainstream part of society, but it has always been there. And in other cultures, it is very respected. In Newfoundland and the Indigenous community, there is an oral tradition, and I share in these ways. I have all the knowledge of how to navigate the system, as I helped create it and how to transition legally. I can offer great advice and have over the years to many transgender people. And if you want to know something about transgender rights in this world I have one of the better networks, there is to access information. I am a responsible adult, and I like the term elder, and I have taken it too.

6. Jacobsen: Within the same question background, what is different in the life-arc of a trans woman from youth to elderhood compared to someone who is not a trans woman?

Piercey: I am in my forties. Now I have forty plus years of life experience. But that is not what makes me an elder. You can be older than me it doesn’t mean you are an elder in the trans community. Let’s start with the years of transition. Day one, you are transgender, you are brand new to this world. You may know about life, but you don’t know anything about transitioning. These are trans years, I have 20 of those years, and it is that experience that counts. What you may know about life is irrelevant to a degree when you change genders. People have always come to me at this point needing my help. More so in the past, before services were available, I am an expert in the trans community.

The experience is relatively the same for everyone medically speaking. You want and need to be supervised by a doctor. You have to live full time integrating into society for a year. Then you start hormone. Then you go through a second puberty. Living full time is a real test, and taking hormones that is permanent. If you make it this far, following the doctor’s orders and have no complications with the introduction of hormones and no adverse effects to your body you are on your way to transitioning. Hormones scare away a lot of people, and some people can’t take them, especially the male testosterone. It is a weird time, in a transgender person life. It is when they are most vulnerable, and hormones are new, and everything they thought about the other gender is now real to them. It is a learning and growing phases. Eventually, you settle in and find your way. You may have surgery, which again is a significant change, most of my friends are post operation. Therefore, we can relate to each other. Then you wake up one morning and your body after years now matches the image in your mind. You adjust, and you move on with life, everything is normal, gender is not an issue anymore. All is good. Transgender doesn’t solve problems; it is not an escape from your life, it creates tonnes of difficulties. The whole process takes time; it took me probably ten years to regain my confidence and to be good with who I am. It is very similar to a non-transgender woman entering puberty, and the issues faced, it just happens to them when you are younger, and as with them it takes years being a teenager to come into your own.

7. Jacobsen: In terms of the social issues in the lives of trans women, what are the disproportionately negative life outcomes for trans women in different domains of their lives? How does each of these disproportionately negative outcomes play out in concrete terms? 

Piercey: I can easily say, that if I was with hundred people who identify as transgender twenty years ago. Fifty would not be able to change their lives. This door is not open to them. I would say twenty of them would be murdered or commit suicide or incarcerated. It was a big deal to be passible for safety reasons alone. Now I would say of the thirty left, fifteen have entered prostitution for survival, ten are on income assistant, and I would say you have five who are working, transitioned and you will never know they transitioned. That was me, I was lucky, educated, in a relationship, and I knew how to take care of myself. I came out again later in life because I was tired of seeing what happened to the community and its fight for rights and it was overwhelming me trying to help others. I know there are not a lot of transgender people who live long lives after transitioning. I was given seven years by one professional, it was said to me this is a rough life ahead if I do this. Now, I have some friends who have transitioned as long as I have or longer and I know of some individuals older than me too. The truth is we are a science experiment. There aren’t that many people who have done this. I am one of those at the forefront.

8. Jacobsen: What is the process of making the transition? Also, this is a nuanced area. What are the different paths and shades of those paths available to trans women in terms of making the transition in Canada?

Piercey: For me, this was a very regulated medical process to transition. As well, legally it is a real pain in the neck to change all of my documentation. It was not fun; it was hard work. Back in the day, the government would only recognize gender change surgeries, if they occurred within the medical system. Without your surgery, you couldn’t change your identity. These rules do not apply as much anymore. It is good, and it is terrible too, I liked all the supervision and supported I received. I was monitored as if I was part of a military experiment. If anything was wrong with me, I knew right away. It was reassuring. I remember transitioning was the scariest time in my life, going from male to female was a stage that I wanted to go through as fast as I could. It takes times to transition. I wanted to travel, get a good job, or have access to credit, I needed everything to be in order. I thought coming out was hard; I found socializing difficult as I was relearning many skills, and it took me a while. What works for me as a man didn’t necessarily work for me as a woman. I was taken care of, supported and helped to transition completely through the medical system in Canada. I have the best doctors.

Today you can now transition, or be gender non-conforming or gender neutral. It is not so much about taking a pill as it is more about changing your identity to reflect who you are. The rules don’t apply anymore as they once did for me, you can start hormones, and you don’t have to transition fully, you don’t have to have your surgery. A lot of people live gender neutral or some other gender that is not traditional male or female. I can’t imagine how different it is now, there are so many supports, and people are safe to be themselves at a young age, and the social stigma is going away. Part of the transgender experience was in hiding, ashamed and coming out, living underground, and outside of the system. I had to develop social skills, political skills, to fight for my rights, I had to know the law, the medical system and government policy as it was all needed to get by in life. Now, if was 15 and felt like there was something wrong with me. I can tell my doctor, and my teacher and I can transition with help. Whereas for me it took years to find answers, and help and support. In a way, transgender, as I understand it will be extinct.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Co-Chair – Ministry of Status of Women Sub-Committee of Human Rights, CFUW FCFDU; Vice Chair National Women’s Liberal Commission at Liberal Party of Canada | Parti libéral du Canada; Mentor, Canadian Association for Business Economics.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two) [Online].November 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, November. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (November 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Stacey Piercey (Part Two) [Internet]. (2018, November; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/piercey-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. 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 co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,351

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. is the Chairman for Mensa Pakistan. He discusses: time frame for events; vigorous and respectful debates; the one rule in discussions; keeping debates on topic; punishments for poor behaviour; some interactions Mensa Pakistan members can get in-person but not online; similar interactions online as in person but the interactions are simply better, richer experiences for the participants than online; expansions of Mensa Pakistan’s in-person provisions for the membership; technology and online environments improving in-person experiences; and in-person experiences enhancing experiences in the virtual environments.

Keywords: Hasan Zuberi, Islam, Mensa Pakistan, Muslim, Pakistan.

An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A.: Chairman, Mensa Pakistan (Part Three)[1],[2]

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: How long is the standard time frame given in the announcement and organization of an event or meeting prior to its coming to fruition?

Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A.: Standard time frame is usually at least 2 weeks, so that the members are well informed in advance and can manage their availability.

2. Jacobsen: How can vigorous, respectful debates on various political, philosophical, mathematical, ethical, scientific, and so on, happen more easily through electronic media?

I ask because, I know, most people, or everybody, experiences – or has experienced – intense and unpleasant debates, or even simply sour dialogues and discussions, on a number of topics. 

Zuberi: Well, simply: Every day, we have a members group on WhatsApp, and there we discuss (not debate) on all topics at hand, be it political, religious, and even social issues. Since it is not a debate, it becomes more engaging and informative.

3. Jacobsen: What seems like reasonable ground rules to set in an online forum to prevent vitriol and maintain respectful communication between the parties involved in them, especially in the cognitively highly capable?

Zuberi: Guess, it’s simply one rule: “Respect others’ opinion.” Senior members, play the role of moderators (if they are not the initiators) and keep the environment to the topic and if there is anything that can be deemed intense, it is politely discouraged.

So far we have not seen getting things out of control, and the credit goes to the fine diversified group of people we have.

4. Jacobsen: In online environments, women and girls get more harassment. Indeed, they receive more harsh criticism and ad hominem attacks, even if their statements remain, functionally in content and tone, the same as a man or a boy – not in all cases but, from qualitative reportage and complaints of women, probably most cases.

Any tips for women and girls, especially the highly gifted and talented to stay on topic, in self-protection of cyberbullying, stalking, and harassment?

Zuberi: Well, if I talk about our circle, it is very much protected and anything below the line can be communicated to the senior management for immediate action. We encourage our female members to speak up, and often appoint, senior female members/or our national psychologist to be at the listening end.

5. Jacobsen: What is the importance of an online moderator in the prevention of these behaviours by many men and boys – or some women and girls?

What seems like the appropriate punishments, reactions, or mechanisms to acquire justice in the cases of legitimate cyberbullying, stalking, and harassment? That is, how can the bullied, stalked, and harassed deal with these individuals?

Zuberi: Well in our system, as stated above, are the senior members, who are on senior and powerful positions and volunteer for the cause, they serve as the elders and advise on issues, referred to them.

Punishments, if required, are mostly related to warning the culprit at first and so far it has been enough just to let members know that Seniors are there to provide all help.

If required further, it can result in suspension and/or expulsion from the organization, and registering a case with Cyber Crime Cell of Federal Investigation Authority (FIA). Fortunately, Pakistan has a very string Cyber Crime Unit, called NR3C.

6. Jacobsen: Now, to the second aspect, the in-person environment has been the main form of interaction of the highly intelligent in a relatively tight locale. What are some interactions Mensa Pakistan members can get in-person but not online?

Zuberi: It is mostly in our meet-ups, and or other SIG activities, which provides a chance for in-person interaction.

7. Jacobsen: What about similar interactions online as in person but the interactions are simply better, richer experiences for the participants than online?

Zuberi: Well, obviously with technology in hands now, it has become easier for everyone to interact online, than offline, so it is normal.

8. Jacobsen: In the future, what would be wonderful expansions of Mensa Pakistan’s in-person provisions for the membership? I mean wildest dreams, wonderful, and dreamy ideas – pie-in-the-sky.

Zuberi: Culturally speaking, in our part of the world, the in-person meetups are still considered formal and respectful. We as a platform, try to provide our members with the opportunity to come, meet their peers, to share their learning and experiences with others, and to learn from each other.

We are also planning to collaborate with other organizations that provide positive learning opportunities, scholarships, activities etc., for our members.

9. Jacobsen: To the third facet, the nature of the interaction between the two. How do technology and online environments improve in-person experiences of the Mensa Pakistan group?

Zuberi: Above all, the technology and online environment has helped us to engage our long-lost old members who have migrated from Pakistan; or left the country for studies, family, work, to connect with the members back home. It also helps to connect and broaden their social networks.

10. Jacobsen: How do in-person experiences provide the basis for enhanced experiences in the virtual environments of the Mensa Pakistan group?

Zuberi: It serves as the basis. People understand others, especially when they meet them and express themselves in person, and in the online environment; it becomes easier to understand their words.

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

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Chairman, Mensa Pakistan.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three) [Online].November 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, November. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (November 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Hasan Zuberi, M.B.A. (Part Three) [Internet]. (2018, November; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/zuberi-three.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. 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 co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three)

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,885

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Tim Moen is the President of the Libertarian Party of Canada. He discusses: attenuation of the loss of an authentic self while in the midst of more, and more, public recognition; tasks and responsibilities come with this station with being the leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada; honest mistakes as a leader; how an elected leader demarcates the vision for the political party and conveys the image to the leader’s constituency; the more heartening experiences in political life; the more disheartening experiences in political life; the primary policy of the Libertarian Party of Canada; egregious examples of government overreach in Canada; model of consent; the individual as the basic unit of society; the bad, the good, and government, individuals, and groups; preventing government from harming society; and sub-clauses to the primary policy.

Keywords: Libertarianism, Libertarian Party of Canada, Tim Moen.

An Interview with Tim Moen: Leader, Libertarian Party of Canada (Part Three)[1],[2]

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: What attenuates the loss of an authentic self while in the midst of more, and more, public recognition?

Tim Moen: This is actually a huge question that to properly answer would require pages, but I’ll try and be concise.

A few years ago I was disoriented and alone in a structure fire. The heat was rising very quickly and was unbearable and I knew for a fact that I was going to die. Obviously, I made it out, but the man that emerged was not the same man that went in. I realized I had been wasting so much of my time and not devoting time and energy to the things in my life that mattered most to me.

Having a purpose driven life is the most important part of maintaining a sense of self. I don’t just mean having a purpose like winning an election, I mean having a clear understanding of what I want my life to have meant after my time here is done. Combine this sense of purpose with remembering I’m going to die is probably the biggest force that keeps me honest. Sometimes I find myself saying words because it’s the path of least resistance or because I know people will react favourably and having that clear image in my mind of my life ending and what it felt like having left so much undone and allowing others to control my destiny snaps me back to my purpose.

The other prerequisites to staying authentic and grounded are; having a strong degree of self-knowledge, and having a trusted group of friends and family who are willing to help you check your ego.

2. Jacobsen: A purpose to life brings popular mega-church pastor, Rick Warren, to mind, for me. He speaks to purpose in life within a theological framework. Many like him; some don’t. Your experience exists in or out of the theological interpretation, though. A realization of the profound nature of death and the proportional reinvigoration of meaning this imports to life. What practical steps follow from the experience (examples) – for staying grounded, gaining more self-knowledge, and developing a close, trusted group?

You are the leader of the Libertarian Party of Canada. What tasks and responsibilities come with this station?

Moen: My job is to be the public face of the party and to speak on its behalf. I believe its also my job to help discover the vision and strategy of our party with our members and communicate it to our members. Ultimately it is my job to serve the needs of our members and our candidates.

3. Jacobsen: What have been honest mistakes as a leader? How does on confront them, admit them in public, and solve them for better performance in the future? All in the ‘public eye.’ How does a federal political party leader remain on amicable and friendly terms with other federal political party members in spite of differences about desires for the direction of the country?

Moen: I’ve met and enjoyed the company of people of all political persuasions. It is easy to ostracize and divide but I think its more productive to look for common ground and then engage in constructive conflict. It is easy for me to do because most people are libertarians in their private lives. They would never hurt someone or steal from them. Generally speaking, I think we all have the same goals and so as long as we can engage in civil discourse and can agree that we want to achieve the same things then we can have constructive conflict and work our way through the haze of cognitive dissonance together. Doing this requires that you view other people not as combatants to fight but rather as other people who share my goal of having a constructive conversation. If they don’t want to hurt people or take their stuff in their private lives yet they think that winning an election gives them new rights then the problem isn’t that they are bad people wanting to do bad things, the problem is that they are good people being led to do bad things because of a bad mental model or idea. On the other hand, it could be that I have a bad mental model and I would value having that mental model corrected so that I don’t do something bad.

The frame or lens through which we view these conversations with people who have different mental models largely determines how successful the conversation will be. I like to think of poor mental models as mind viruses, they spread and cause otherwise good people to do bad things. I am as susceptible to a mind virus as anyone else and conversations with people who challenge my mental models are valuable because at worst they cause me to ensure I have thought deeply enough about a position I hold to have good reasons for holding it and at best they cause me to change my mind and eliminate a mind virus.

4. Jacobsen: How does an elected leader demarcate the vision for the political party and convey the image to the leader’s constituency? Inspiration remains important for collective action.

Moen: At the end of the day my vision can’t part with the vision of my party or I’m not the right person for the job. I travel around Canada meeting with party members and listening to them and drawing inspiration from them and communicating my vision. I try and communicate why I am involved in the party and what gets me out of bed and motivates me to action. It is something that I’m really passionate about and I don’t think it takes much to motivate or inspire other people. When people see a bit of courage and authenticity that is often all they need to take action themselves.

5. Jacobsen: What have been the more heartening experiences in political life?

Moen: When I see people coming together to work for a common goal and see that we are having an impact on public discourse and culture that is very heartening. Meeting so many passionate and committed people is very motivating. Having earnest conversations with people genuinely interested in the conversation and seeing a mind change as a result of that conversation is very gratifying as well.

6. Jacobsen: What have been the more disheartening experiences in political life?

Moen: The most disheartening experiences are when people are focused on tearing each other down rather than putting aside differences in philosophy and personality for the good of achieving team goals. This is an ongoing problem with libertarians. We are very good at picking apart poor mental models and finding systemic flaws and this strength can turn into a weakness when we fixate on problems rather than focus on solutions. I’ve seen many good people leave in anger. I’ve lost a few people I considered friends because of mistakes I’ve made as a leader. People invest a lot in me as a leader and it really sucks disappointing them.

7. Jacobsen: What is the primary policy of the Libertarian Party of Canada?

Moen: The primary policy of our party is to restrain government from hurting people or taking their stuff and limit its role to protecting individuals. We recognize that government is an institution that has a monopoly on and a mandate to use force and that the only proper use of force is to protect people from the initiatory force (ie murder, assault, rape, theft, fraud). Basically, we think the government should not violate consent and should protect people from violations of consent. People in government don’t get a special exemption from behaving ethically.

8. Jacobsen: What have been egregious examples of government overreach in Canada to you?

Moen: Taxation, the drug war, the growing surveillance state and healthcare stand out as big issues for me. The carbon tax strikes me as particularly horrific in that it is not just confiscating money under threat of force, it is punishing people for consuming the very thing that allows them to survive and flourish. The drug war has ruined lives and created a demand for violent criminals. Bill C-13, Bill C-51 and now the TPP are artefacts of a growing surveillance state that collects data on citizens by invading our private sphere. Our healthcare system is a gigantic point of failure and when it fails the poor and marginalized will be the first to feel the effects.

9. Jacobsen: Within this model of consent, what suffices to amount to consent?

Moen: By consent, I mean the standard legal definition. Consent means that another person should have your permission to enter your private realm. Consent is the difference between lovemaking and rape, or boxing and assault, or charity and taxation. If I tell you that I do not want you to do something to my body or my property and you do it anyways you have clearly violated consent.

10. Jacobsen: With respect to the individual, does the individual form the basic unit of society to you?

Moen: Yes. Society is a group of individuals. Institutions like government are abstract mental models that are often confused as entities that exist in material reality, what really exists are a bunch of individuals acting in accordance with mental models that may or may not lead to otherwise good people doing bad things.

11. Jacobsen: What defines the bad? What defines the good? How can the government increase the good and decrease the bad? How can individuals and groups in society increase the good and decrease the bad?

Moen: “The bad” can be broadly defined as violating consent. “The good” can be broadly defined as that which serves the needs of individuals and leads to flourishing. A proper government can create an environment for the good to emerge if it focuses on its job of protecting individuals from the bad. Humans are generally self-interested and behave in ways that maximize their personal well, being. For the maximum good to emerge it is necessary for the self-interest of an individual be tied to their ability to serve the needs of others and help them flourish. If self-interest is tied to violating consent one would expect the good would have a difficult time emerging and the bad would have an easier time emerging. So a free market where individuals can profit by serving the needs of others seems like the best place for the good to emerge and big government where individuals can profit by violating consent seems like a good place, for the bad to emerge.

12. Jacobsen: Furthermore, how can the government be prevented from harming individual citizens? Of course, no government can be protected from in its entirety. Nothing is full proof.

Moen: Government, as I just pointed out, is an abstraction, not an entity that exists in material reality that can cause harm. If by “government” you mean the specific group of individuals that people imagine have special rights then the question becomes, “how do we prevent these people from harming individual citizens?” To my mind, the answer is to get rid of the demand for a group of individuals to use force in immoral ways. The demand for a government that imposes on individuals comes from a lack of understanding of governments proper function and comes from a place of fear. At the end of the day, people the demand government action because they don’t see it as immoral and they are frightened of some particular hobgoblin and so they demand a government that alleviates their anxiety. So to prevent the government from harming individual citizens is a bit like getting drug dealers to stop harming drug users. Ultimately the problem would largely go away if the addiction was treated. So I see this as a very similar process to treating addiction. There is no legislative lever that will protect people from the government without a will from people for it to happen. Constitutions, bills, charters of rights are helpful insofar as citizens understand them and inscribe these principles on their hearts and minds but they are only pieces of paper with ink if people don’t embrace them. If people don’t believe in or want the government to be limited then it won’t…no matter what.

13. Jacobsen: What derivative policies, which have details and acts as sub-clauses to the primary policy, follow from the primary policy?

Moen: Since all law represents threats of violence for non-compliance our goal is to limit laws to only those that protect individuals. This means that activity between consenting adults that doesn’t harm anybody else should not be interfered with by threats of violence, even by people in government. So as an example we would repeal prohibitions on drug use and sex work.

Another area the government overreaches with force is on the financial lives of citizens. Taking money forcibly (or through threats of force) ought to be limited or eliminated. This means we want to dramatically reduce or eliminate taxation and find non-coercive ways to fund the government and eliminate all non-necessary government departments and spending. We also take issue with onerous regulation on individuals owning and running businesses and working for businesses. Raising the bar to enter the marketplace creates an unfair advantage to crony capitalists at the expense of consumers and start-up entrepreneurs.

We also want to improve property rights. Property rights give individuals immediate access to justice and dispute resolution. This includes our comprehensive policy on indigenous sovereignty which gives indigenous people sovereignty over their territory and allows them to push back against government appropriation of resources on their property and allows them to develop or not develop resources in a manner that is determined by them.

Our military is there to protect Canadians and not as a proxy for US imperialism or UN “Peace Keeping”. We would ensure our military isn’t used for a political agenda but to establish Canadian sovereignty and particularly to find ways of ensuring our Arctic sovereignty is established and protected.

A key element of liberty is the ability to exclude others from your private realm and so we would eliminate warrantless spying, repeal Bill C-51 and C-13, and the TPP in whole or in part.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Leader, Libertarian Party of Canada.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three) [Online].November 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, November. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (November 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Tim Moen (Part Three) [Internet]. (2018, November; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/moen-three.

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An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 18.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fourteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

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

Individual Publication Date: October 22, 2018

Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,882

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Dr. Madeline Weld is President of Population Institute Canada. She discusses: impact on policy from religion; consequences of blocking family planning; efforts to reduce women’s ability to make informed choices; the most stunning fact about demographics and birth rates; and if we ruin the planet, will we Disnify it (?).

Keywords: Madeline Weld, Population Institute Canada, president.

An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld: President, Population Institute Canada (Part Two)[1],[2]

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

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: When I think about something mentioned at the start of the conversation, it was the impact of some religious organizations, sometimes quite big, who stand against family planning. One of them tends to be the Roman Catholic Church.

The largest religious segment of Canadian society is Roman Catholicism. How does this impact policy?

Dr. Madeline Weld: Roman Catholics in countries with birth control access do not listen to the Vatican. Because Catholics in Canada use birth control and abortion at the same rate as everyone else. But, historically, I do not think there is any other organization that has caused more damage…

Jacobsen: …wow…

Weld: …to the population movement than the Vatican, which is a political organization. I look at it as a political organization intent on its own preservation rather than a spiritual organization. When the UN was being formed after WWII, the head of the World Health Organization was a Canadian named Brock Chisholm, a Canadian humanist.

He was in favour of family planning. He thought overpopulation would be a problem. He wanted to make family planning part of the WHO’s umbrella services, like child immunization, and so on. The Vatican got together a group of Catholic countries and they said that they would withdraw from the UN if this happened.

They bullied the WHO into dropping family planning from their agenda. This is described by Milton Siegel, who was the second to the chair or the vice-chair of the WHO [he was Deputy Director]– and who attended every meeting, as something they simply dropped as a topic.

The Catholic Church for all environmental things; it has been consistent in opposing family planning. The president of Ceylon now Sri Lanka was concerned about overpopulation: on his small island.

The Vatican was at the conference in Rio de Janeiro in 1992 [UN Conference on Environment and Development] also got family planning off the agenda. Then the Cairo conference in 1994: The International Conference on Population and Development had both the Vatican and the progressive feminists being against population control.

They talked about racism, colonialism, and so on. They talked about people freely and responsibly choosing the size of their family. But they did not speak about a woman living in a pro-natalist country, where her religion, mother-in-law, and husband say that she must have a lot of kids.

By not initiating any programs or ideas for programs for governments to take for this sort of thing, it fell by the wayside. The amount of money for family planning as a percentage of total population assistance fell dramatically. It went to AIDS.

The point is the Vatican interfered a lot [Laughing]. I do not think there is any organization in the UN that did more damage. We have the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation, which is 56 Islamic countries plus the Palestinian Authority.

I am not sure how supportive they will be of family planning. They are a powerful block. I agree that religion [Laughing] does not help with family planning. In Canada and all over Europe, even Spain and Italy, they do not listen to the Vatican. Spain and Italy have some of the lowest birth rates in Europe.

Jacobsen: However, this came from the secularization of the organization of the outside rather than from the inside.

Weld: Yes, I think women benefitted from the secularization of society with more freedom and so on. There is a reform movement in the Catholic Church too. There is a strong contingent of pro-choice people in the Catholic Church too.

Jacobsen: I did an interview with the president of Catholics for Choice.

Weld: A lot of Catholic women disagree with the Catholic anti-abortion stance. There was a commission in the Catholic church to look at their stance on family planning. They had 56 lay people and 16 clergy representatives looking at it. [FYI: This was Pope Paul VI’s Pontifical Commission on Birth Control, which produced its report in 1966: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontifical_Commission_on_Birth_Control. And there were 56, not 54 laypeople on it.]

They were supposed to see whether changing the Vatican’s stance on abortion would harm the organization and whether the Vatican should do it. The commission looked at it, decided it would (harm the authority of the Vatican), but said it is the right thing to do anyway.

Basically, all the lay people agreed to it. 9 out of the 16 clergy representatives agreed that the Catholic Church should change its stance. A dissenting decision was made that if the Catholic Church changed its stance then it would look like the Holy Spirit would not have been guiding the Catholic Church all along.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Weld: But it has been instead with the Protestant groups, where birth control was okay.

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Weld: What was a mortal sin would now be okay, it could not do that. Guess, who wrote much of the dissenting opinion? Karol Wojtyla who later became Pope John Paull II. It prevailed, the dissenting opinion. That is an unfortunate thing. [https://epdf.tips/the-catholic-church-on-marital-intercourse-from-st-paul-to-pope-john-paul-ii.html]

There were two times when birth control could come into the fore. One was when the UN was formed with the WHO led by Brock Chisholm and another was when the Catholic Church looked to reform on birth control positions. Neither happened.

2. Jacobsen: Now, I look at this as one of those ethical splits. One from a transcendentalist traditionalist religious perspective on the source of ethics. Another on international secular human rights. When I look at those things, I recall Human Rights Watch stating equitable and safe access to abortion is primarily a human right.

Of course, it lists the consequences of not providing the safe and equitable access to abortion. So, if some of these religious organizations and some progressive feminist groups are blocking family planning and potentially abortion too, what are the consequences of doing this for women?

Weld: They are higher abortion rates. If women cannot use birth control, a bunch will seek abortions, and if illegal then illegal abortions, which means an increased rate of abortions and an increased rate of deaths from illegal abortions.

I can understand but do not agree with being anti-abortion. But if you are anti-abortion, then you should be pro-birth control, right [Laughing]?

Jacobsen: [Laughing].

Weld: Some people think women should not have those rights. I do not see why a sensible person would be against birth control.

Jacobsen: We have come to the same conclusion. If someone is pro-life in a strict and realistic sense, they should be pro-choice because the consequences would be pro-infant life, pro-maternal life, and pro-human right.

Weld: Right. I think the most awful case that made the news was this woman from India, who was in Ireland. Her fetus was dying. It was not viable. But the Irish doctors refused to abort because they were terrified at the time that the Irish draconian laws of the time may make them go to prison if they perform it.

The woman died because by the time the fetal heartrate died; she died of septicemia. It was a sad story. That was about five years ago. I forget when. Because Irish abortion laws were voted to be changed very recently.

3. Jacobsen: Now, in open societies in Karl Popper’s terms, such as Canada, the notion of the restriction of women’s bodily autonomy through various legal or fundamentalist religious measures cannot be done or, at least, as easily.

So, the people who try to do that or want to do that – and, to be frank, some people probably want that in this country – must work through coercion and culture.

Do you note any attempts within the culture or arguments made socially/culturally to either guilt women or shame women, or talk women, into being against contraception – trying to reduce their ability to make proper and informed choices about family planning?

Weld: I know in Ottawa the Morgentaler Clinic prevented people from demonstrating in front of the clinic. It is not advertised. You cannot tell looking at it from the outside. They cannot protest with 50 metres now.

That is some protection. There are organizations. I see their ads on the bus, advertising to pregnant women. Something like Melinda House or Maryam House, where you can go and have your baby. They have outreach.

They try to discourage abortions by women. I do not know of any attempts. The Catholic Church is always preaching against it. But I do not know of any coercive attempts. I do not know if they can without breaking the law. But they try.

They try to influence their legislatures and stuff like that. It is entrenched in Canada, though. Maybe, they can limit it to a certain number of weeks. I do not think even Henry Morgentaler did abortions after 22 weeks; unless there was a medical cause to do it.

I do not think they are going to give up. I think they have a pretty good turnout at their pro-life rallies in Ottawa. But they bus all the high school kids there. They beef it up [Laughing].

Jacobsen: [Laughing] something heard by me. The idea, “What will you do after you’re 35? What will you do in the latter part of your life? Oh, don’t worry, you’ll change.” These said to women.

These to negatively associate singlehood or non-motherhood, and to get them to have children or get married and have children. Tiny guilt and shaming tactics over time. They may not be conscious of it.

Weld: People, in general, or humans are pro-child. I think it is natural to want children for a lot of people. But people must make their own decisions. If life is too complicated, I know that more women now who are trying to freeze their eggs – or have their kids later in life.

Sure, they have a right to do so. But from my perspective, imagine looking after a toddler when you are 45 or something, I have two sons. They are 31 and 29. I was 31/32 and 34 when I had my kids. I am glad I had my youngish energy to chase around after them.

Because your energy levels decrease as you get older. You might have a rebellious teenager when you are 60 [Laughing]. Right now, I am 63 and independent. My kids have moved out and have their own life. The freedom is great.

It is something that people want to consider when they put off having their kids. They will be looking after kids into their old age. Do they want to be doing that? Of course, you will not see your grandchildren if you have huge distances between the generations.

Anyway, I think society must figure it out. Given that we have so many people already, I think small families is a good thing. The longer you wait then the less the population is, because parents do not die instantly when they have kids.

I am thinking in terms of biological realities. There might be an optimum-maximum age. There was a case of an Italian woman. She had a kid when she was 65. It was a few years ago. It made the news. I thought, “Why would you do that?”

Jacobsen: Did she have any kids prior?

Weld: I do not recall. You can read cases of old women or an old woman who want to have kids. It is weird.

4. Jacobsen: What is the single most stunning fact about demographics and birth rates, and so on, encountered in your entire career, even post-retirement included? 

Weld: I guess that there are 1 billion more people every 12 years. It is 9 zeroes. It is stunning. Since 9:58, my time, this morning, 13,319 more people have been added to the world. That is the net increase since I have been sitting at this computer.

So, in an hour and a half, we have thirteen and a half thousand new people, which is a lot.

Jacobsen: Is it considering the deaths?

Weld: Yes, it is births minuses deaths. We have this population clock on the website. I guess that is the most stunning fact. Also, humans have taken over 2/3rds of the land surface of the Earth for their uses and only the parts that are difficult to get to are a little safe from us.

It raises the question, “Do we want to turn the planet into a feed lot for humanity? If so, why?”

5. Jacobsen: Will we Disnify the planet if we ruin it?

Weld: I think we are to a degree. I think we delude ourselves if we think we are in control. If the soils are impoverished and cannot support high-yielding plants, and if the rivers are depleted if the aquifers are depleted and it is happening, what will we do now?

They are trying to breed plants that do not require much water. But we are always scrambling to solve some other problem. It is always something. The increase in food production has slowed down. There is always a maximum that can be produced.

It cannot be done forever. A lot of our food production depends on cheap fertilizer, which depends on oil; as the price of oil increases, the price of fertilizer will increase. We should limit our numbers before things naturally self-limit and make things unpleasant for us and other animals.

We could be a blip. It happened when the meteor wiped the dinosaurs out. Why would we do this to ourselves? Why would we cause this transformation and this depletion when we can avoid doing it?

Jacobsen: Because intelligence may be a lethal mutation as per the words of Noam Chomsky.

Weld: [Laughing] Yes, I think that is true.

Jacobsen: Alan Watts used to joke – the Eastern scholar from the 60s-70s – about what if the eventual state of a species is to produce a new star by discovering nuclear energy and then blowing themselves up.

Weld: [Laughing].

Jacobsen: Of course, he was being facetious. But what if?

Weld: Yes.

Jacobsen: It is similar what if in a concrete sense of our intelligence allowing us to manipulate the environment very well and over a short, brief time – a “blip” as you noted.

Weld: I think we need to develop a new ethics called Ecological Ethics that have been promoted for a while now. Because most ethics only consider human to human interactions. I think we need to consider that we are part of a bigger system and what we are doing to our support system, ecological system.

I think that may be done willy-nilly because it will happen whether we like it or not.

That is my hope anyway.

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

Weld: Thanks for the interview, Scott.

Jacobsen: That was a lot of fun.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] President, Population Institute Canada.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two; Full Issue Publication Date: January 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two) [Online].November 2018; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two)Retrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A, November. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 18.A (November 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two)’In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 18.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 18.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Dr. Madeline Weld (Part Two) [Internet]. (2018, November; 18(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/weld-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 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 and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2018. 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 co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam)

Interviewer: 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: November 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 1,781

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) is the Founder of Jichojipya/ThinkAnew. He discusses: Tanzanian culture; atheist as viewed by the genera Tanzanian public; the commonality of atheism in Tanzania; the great atheist Tanzanian thinker; the great atheist Tanzanian book; biases and prejudices against the atheist community in Tanzania; biases in law; and final thoughts.

Keywords: Jichojipya, Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa, Nsajigwa Nsa’sam, Tanzania, ThinkAnew.

An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam): Founder, Jichojipya/ThinkAnew[1],[2],[3]

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

*Originally published in Canadian Atheist.*

Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) founded Jichojipya (meaning with new eye) to “Think Anew”. He is among the best read – on primary freethinking and humanist sources – African freethinkers known to me.

We have talked before about freethought in Tanzania. They have an in-development YouTube channel here. Some grassroots activism here. Some work or organizations with activism and cultural exchange here: Galimoto’KaliSisi Kwa Sisi (Facebook/LinkedIn/Twitter/Felix Ntinda).

Nsajigwa has been interviewed here. We conducted other interviews/publications in Blogogate here, Canadian Atheist hereherehere, and here, in The Good Men Project hereherehereherehereherehere, and in Humanist Voices here and here, Tanzania Today here, and Tech2 here.

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: So, you’re out in Tanzania. That is far removed from the normal life of Canadians. What is something that those in Canada are almost certainly not likely to know about atheism in Tanzania but they should?

Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam): Thank you I am Mr. Nsajigwa, Canadians should know that as it is for every human society throughout ages and generations that there have been within independent thinkers and freethinkers, so too there are such ones in Tanzania, though few, as it has hitherto been.

There are Tanzanians who think outside of the box of religiosity despite the fact that in Africa religion is overwhelmingly omnipresent and -potent, covering all aspects of life, from the birth point of entrance to death point of exit. In past, Africans were said to “Think emotionally” and being more “spiritual” as a philosophy of Negritude would assert, “rational is Greece as emotion is black.” Maybe today, we might just understand that to have been too much of a generalization.

In terms of percentage, it is recorded that independent thinkers individuals living without religion in Tanzania could be up to 1% of the population (the challenge is to make it rise to 10% as there might be enough such ones who however are in the closet).

2. Jacobsen: How is atheism viewed by the general public in Tanzania?

Nsajigwa: In the past, it was associated with socialism of communism brand, the USSR type, thus ideological.

But also by Tanzanians who are fundamentalist in their religious outlook, they view it negatively, as an arrogant rebellion against God’s will by the few people educated (to become confused) by too much secular book reading. Further extremes view it as for those who are “lost” and on Satan’s side (Satan being the opposite of good God).

3. Jacobsen: How common is atheism there?

Nsajigwa: As a movement it is coming up, emerging as is the reality of it all over Africa. Some individual independent thinkers to freethinkers exist, it’s only recently since new millennium that there have emerged some pioneer efforts to teach it by philosophy, identify and bring such individuals together.

I am the pioneer number one for this philosophy, life-stance here since the mid-1990s before the arrival of the internet in Tanzania. We are developing a fellowship to be a community in the future via Jichojipya – Think Anew as a formal organization and vehicle for that, we founded it to live to achieve common goals of institutionalizing Humanism ideas and ideals guided by Humanist’s Amsterdam Declaration 2002 of which I translated into Swahili that being first time that it was in an African language. Its Humanistic aspects happen to be similar to some aspects of Tanzanian own Arusha declaration doctrine of 1967.

4. Jacobsen: If you could pick one great atheist thinker in Tanzania, who would it be?

Nsajigwa: It would be an eminent elder retired public figure named Kingunge Ngombale-Mwilu. We identified him as one because he was the public figure, only one known throughout to swear for a public position (he has served since independence in top ranking positions even as a minister of state) without holding Bible or Quran.

That is, how we suspected him to be a nonbeliever and on interviewing him recently he came out as such, a freethinker who is Agnostic (though our society thought of him as a socialist communist). He told us himself he became freethinker inspired by reading the subject of Philosophy including the writings of Thomas Paine and Ludwig Feuerbach in his analysis that;- “it’s not god creating man in his own image but rather a man creating God in his imagination.”

Another longtime freethinker would be Nsajigwa (me myself) a self-taught individual operating at the grassroots. I have taught and inspired many enough by my knowledge (book reading) and my own everyday life as a freethinker, someone living ethically good without a religion.

5. Jacobsen: If you could take one great atheist book in Tanzania, what would it be?

Nsajigwa: There is no one whole book on that, however, there are particular stories on some books say by one late Agoro Anduru – a good writer that he was. Also stories (in Swahili) by one Mohamed Salum Abdalla (in short Bwana Msa) and speeches by Mwalimu (Swahili for a teacher) Nyerere – Tanzanian founder father, teaching, insisting and reminding on several occasions that Tanzania is a secular state.

6. Jacobsen: What are some of the prejudices and biases that the atheist community experiences in Tanzania?

Nsajigwa: Basically so far organized atheist community is just emerging, we few freethinkers are just pioneering to bring it out but judging from our personal life experience, our social milieu is such that to be a nonbeliever you are misunderstood in many ways and judged negatively, its something you just have to endure, too much pressure and frictions to confront right from the family level. African culture is “communitarian” in outlook, wanting conformity to all its members. Things should be done as traditions and what religions require. On religion itself, it is very influential, plus our political culture is illiberal, yes we are a peaceful Nation since independence but skepticism and criticism are not tolerated despite the fact we became a multiparty democracy since 1992.

7. Jacobsen: What are some of the biases in law that are explicitly anti-atheist or, at a minimum, tacitly so?

Nsajigwa: The founder father Mwalimu Nyerere was, fortunately, a good student of John Stuart Mills philosophy “on liberty”. He made it clear the fact that our Nation is secular though people (including himself) are in religions. There is a temptation though from various players to wish that religion should penetrate more into government because people and their leaders are religious anyway. In Zanzibar, a semi-autonomous government with a majority of its population (90%+) being Moslem, Islamic laws applies (via what are known as kadhi courts) in dealing with matters of inheritance, marriage, and divorce.

8. Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts?

Nsajigwa: We live in modern times yet we have not yet successfully modernized our cultures and societies.The need to secularize our outlook to life, thus STEM (Science Technology Engineering and (rationalism of) Mathematics) Project. We by Jichojipya – Think Anew a Tanzanian Freethinkers secularist humanists organization here initiated a GalimotoCar making STEM project from the grassroots, we need support to continue doing that, a fight against superstition believes including Albino killings.
There is modern African triple heritage concept by which in Tanzanian case, Islam, Christian, and Traditionalists are almost one-third each by percentage (35-35-30 respectively), though there is much dominance of the first two in the public while the third (tradition believes) are somehow dormant, activated only when everything else fails to work.

By SWOT approach most African countries Tanzania included are illiberal. In such situations, independent thinking and freethinking are thwarted and such individuals live to endure hard life mentally (psychologically) and physically. Freethinking Atheism Humanism in Africa should mean an idea to emancipate Africans from illiberality and concurrently from the mental slavery of religions that have evolved to become dysfunctional, as they shape ideas of superstition and wishful thinking that support dogma, irrationality, and fatalism.

It’s a herculean task needed to be met to push the cause of African renaissance and its enlightenment. All due support by Freethinkers Humanists from other parts of the world (Canada etc) is needed, to sustain this work for modernism by secularism in Africa, Tanzania inclusively. That is the historic generational duty for humanity. Thank you.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Founder, Jichojipya/ThinkAnew.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam.

[3] Image Credits: Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam).

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) [Online].November 2018; 1(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam)Retrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) African Freethinker. 1.A, November. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam).African Freethinker. 1.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam).African Freethinker. 1.A (November 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam), African Freethinker, vol. 1.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam), African Freethinker, vol. 1.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam).” African Freethinker 1.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Nsajigwa I Mwasokwa (Nsajigwa Nsa’sam) [Internet]. (2018, November; 1(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/nsasam.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 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 and African Freethinker 2012-2018. 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 African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Roslyn Mould

Interviewer: 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: November 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 5,685

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Roslyn Mould is the Former President of the Humanist Association of Ghana and Chair of the African Working Group (IHEYO). She discusses: early life; de-conversion; education; becoming an activist; influence from parents and siblings; early partnerships in becoming an activist; being a progressive; other beliefs implied by progressivism; adopting a socially progressive worldview; its importance; the best socio-political position for Ghana; tasks and responsibilities with HAG; teaching critical thinking in Ghana; teaching modern scientific ideas; barriers to teaching critical thinking and modern scientific ideas; the positives and negatives of religion in Ghana and Africa; obstacles of the social-progressive movements; the importance of social movements; meaning of elected positions; personal heroes within culture; favourite scientific discovery; philosophers; anti-scientific representatives in Ghana; anti-scientific and anti-humanistic movements in Ghana; external help; and humanism and the status of women.

Keywords: African Working Group, Chair, Former President, Humanist Association of Ghana, Roslyn Mould.

An Interview with Roslyn Mould: Vice President, Humanist Association of Ghana; Chair, African Working Group (IHEYO) [1],[2]

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

*Originally published in Conatus News.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: You grew up as a Catholic. You went to Holy Child School, Cape Coast as well. What is your story as a youth growing up in a religious household? What was the experience?

Roslyn Mould: I attended Catholic schools, St. Theresa’s School in Accra from primary, junior high school and in Holy Child School I got my Senior high school education. They were one of the best schools at the time and provided us with the best teachers in all subjects. The major criteria for admissions was to be a Catholic and I was baptised at the St. Theresa’s Parish so it was easier for me to gain admission. In primary school, we had ‘Worship service’ on Wednesday mornings as part of our curriculum and from 1st grade, we were read the Bible and taught to understand it.

In the beginning, I did not really understand it, especially when it came to topics on the afterlife since my mother had died when I was 4 years old and I had still not come to understand the concept of death by then. I must have tried to discuss the existence of God once to my classmates, but I was told that I could go mad (mentally ill) so I stopped. I then made it a point to understand and accept Christianity because I felt that everyone believed in it and it was the right thing to do. By 6th grade, I attended catechism classes and had received my First Holy Communion.

My Senior High School was an all-girls boarding School and was built by the Catholic church in a town called Cape Coast in the Central Region of Ghana in 1946. It had been run initially by British nuns for decades and later by alumni of the school. It was strict and aimed to form students into ‘women of substance’ who would grow up to be the best in the country at home as good wives, at work, and in the Catholic church.

Obedience, discipline, and morality were the core teachings there with religion and especially Catholicism at its core. It was compulsory for all students to attend Mass at least 3 times a week and observe ‘The Angelus’ prayer’ 3 times a day. Most of the students were Catholic, but we had Anglicans and Protestants of various denominations as well. I became more exposed to Christian Charismatic teachings, joined nondenominational prayer groups and underwent a period of ‘being born-again’, which cemented my belief on God. It was there I had my ‘Confirmation of the Holy Spirit’.

Due to my mother’s death, I was brought up partly by my mother’s family and later by my dad’s. My mother’s family is mostly Catholic and conservative who encouraged and supported me to be a good Christian and was proud of me whenever I hit a milestone in my religious life. My father’s side of the family is mostly Anglican and also went to church often, but were more liberal and reformed.

I was encouraged there to think for myself and I learnt to care for myself and my sister at an early age since there was no mother-figure and my dad was not really ‘there’ either. Staying at my dad’s, my sister and I grew up with lots of books and educational programs on satellite TV, which at the time was expensive for most homes to have. As my mother’s side taught me to be obedient and subservient in their understanding of being respectful, my father’s side of the family encouraged me to ask questions and express myself freely.

2. Jacobsen: You de-converted and became an atheist in 2007. What were the major reasons, arguments, evidence, and experiences for the de-conversion?

Mould: I had finished University where I acquired my BA in Linguistics and Modern Languages and I had made lots of friends in the expat community. At the time, I had come to realise that I had certain views such as feminism that a lot of Ghanaian men were not interested in due to cultural and religious reasons so I seemed to connect well with foreigners. Dating a Serbo-Croatian then, I became familiar with the Eastern European community in the Capital, Accra.

I came to realise that most of them were non-religious as most people from Europe tend to be including my partner although they were baptised in the Orthodox church. I also started to notice that whenever I made religious statements, there would be a short awkward silence and a change in topic. I felt then that I was not doing my job properly as a Christian if I could not teach them about the Word of God and pass on the teachings of Christ. It was at this juncture that I set on a personal course to do objective research on the origins and importance of religion, especially Christianity, in order to properly inform my friends about it. We had Satellite TV then as well so I gave more attention to programs on channels like the HISTORY channel, which at the time showed objective documentaries on the life and times of Jesus Christ and the origins of the Bible.

This was eye-opening because all my life, I had watched the same type of movies and documentaries which were shown every Sunday and especially on Christian Holidays, but those ones had certain relevant information left out of it and they also did not give archaeologically documented information so came my first ‘shocks’. I also watched the Discovery and National Geographic channels for scientific documentaries on evolution the possibilities of life on other planets and these baffled me further because I had been taught to believe in only Creationism and I did not know there was another way of explaining how humans exist. At that point, I had not gotten any information to preach with and I had no one to talk to about my findings.

I went through stages of grief, disappointment, sadness, anger, and finally stopped going to church. Even when I stopped going to church I felt that God would strike me with lightning for disobeying him or ‘betraying’ him, but as time went by and nothing bad seemed to happen, my fear lessened. I did not know how to explain it to my family and friends. So for years, I kept my non-belief to myself and gave excuses for not attending church and sometimes hoped that I could be proven wrong with my non-belief so I could go back to worshipping God but that time never came.

3. Jacobsen: You studied French at the University of Ghana for a Bachelor’s degree in Linguistics and Modern Languages (French and Spanish). Was this education assistive in personal and professional pursuits during postsecondary education and post-graduation?

Mould: Yes, it was. Actually, at the time, the University of Ghana did not give much room for choice by students. They mostly took subjects you excelled in from High School and gave you subjects in that field to study and since I passed exceptionally in English, French and Geography, I was given the Language subjects. I grew to enjoy Linguistics which was a social science program and it interested me greatly as its history taught me a lot about who we are as humans and how far we have come in terms of communication in our development as a species.

I studied various courses in pragmatics, phonetics, syntax, linguistics in Ga (my local language) and Linguistics in English. In Spanish, history and literature formed a big part of our studies and French grammar as well. As Ghana is the only Anglophone country in Africa completely neighboured by Francophone Countries, it became integral that I learnt it as it could get me a long way in the job market although I never really used it much in my career. It came in handy in translating for visiting clients, contractors. I loved studying Spanish for the love of it and linguistics helped me in my career as an administrator in creating and reviewing company documents. I speak 3 local languages and knowing 3 more foreign languages came in handy in my social life meeting people from all over the world.

4. Jacobsen: How did you become an activist?

Mould: I became active in activism after joining the Humanist Association of Ghana. I gained confidence to ‘come out’ then as atheist and I wanted to help share what I knew now just as I was as a Christian but this time, based on evidence. I also realised how religion was destroying my country and continent due to ignorance, lack of education, and human rights abuses, and I felt I had to do something to help change things for the better. I felt that if I knew of an alternative to the dogmatic teachings I was given, I might have been atheist earlier and maybe, I could give someone else the opportunity to be a freethinker, which I was never given.

5. Jacobsen: Were parents or siblings an influence on this for you?

Mould: My family had no idea that I would turn out to be atheist/humanist. I used to know that my uncle (father’s brother) who moved to the USA over 40 years ago was a deist by then, but never got the opportunity to discuss it with him until now. My sister’s godmother was also a German atheist, but it was never discussed perhaps because I felt it would be rude.

My sister left the Catholic church to become an Evangelical youth prayer group member while I was turning atheist. It was not until 2 years later that she became atheist. Even though we are so close and tell each other everything, it wasn’t until 3 years after her de-conversion that I got to hear about her story during a HAG group meeting. I definitely had no influence from Family. The best they helped was by giving me a good education and logical reasoning skills.

6. Jacobsen: Did you have early partnerships in this activist pursuit? If so, whom?

Mould: Not really. I did not know about humanism until after I joined the Freethought Ghana group from which HAG came. Once I was introduced to it and I was able to recognise that humanism describes my personal philosophy of life, I began to identify as a humanist. The group then organised the 1st ever West African Humanist Conference in 2012 and after learning what steps other groups across the West African region were taking, we started to realise the importance of organising and formalising our group from a social group to an activist group.

The conference also gave the group the opportunity to meet other groups and their representatives that are working on humanitarian projects on human rights activism such as now Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Honourable Mrs. Nana Oye Lithur who spoke to us on the LGBT situation in Ghana at the time, Mr. Gyekye Tanoh of 3rd World Women’s rights group, Mr. Leo Igwe a renowned African humanist from Nigeria who was then doing his research in Ghana on Witchcraft accusations in the Northern region for his PhD in Germany and other humanist groups from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Nigeria. They gave us an insight on what they had been doing and gave us ideas from which HAG was inspired to join in.

7. Jacobsen: Do you consider yourself a progressive?

Mould: Yes, I do. I am of the view that as a humanist who bases her ideas and decisions on logical reasoning and human value, I have had to rethink a lot of negative dogmatic beliefs, superstitions, and culture. I believe that Ghana, and Africa as a whole, is knee deep in ignorance and social dogma, and that is why we remain undeveloped for the most part. I love my country and my people of various tribes and cultures and for that, the need to create a better future for our next generations urges me on to fight age-old systems that stagnate our progress as a people.

8. Jacobsen: Does progressivism logically imply other beliefs, or tend to or even not at all?

Mould: Progressivism, in my opinion, has not got to do with any belief in the supernatural or deities. There has been no proof of that and so moving forward for me, would mean totally discarding those beliefs and critically thinking of ways people can create better systems of living as a civilised nation that takes into account the responsibility of the well-being of its people.

However, I personally believe also that people have their right to association as enshrined in our constitution and therefore, need to have their rights respected but monitored so that its members and the general public are not badly affected by negative religious practices that would infringe on their rights. Rather, the religious can also be freethinkers with progressive views using religion as their source of inspiration.

9. Jacobsen: How did you come to adopt a socially progressive worldview?

Mould: Personally, I have always been progressive since I was young. I was a member of the Wildlife club and Girl Guide Association since Junior High School and in Senior High School, I became President of the Wildlife Club of my school as well as held the position of Public Relations Officer of the Student & Youth Travel Organisation (SYTO) in 2002. With these organisations, I advocated for the rights of animals and the plight of near-extinct species, the rights of girls, participated in various donations and awareness campaigns such as HIV/AIDS and Breast Cancer.

I believe that becoming atheist made me more aware of my passions and my part to play in advocacy and the promotion of human rights based on the realisation that there is no one and no god to help us other than ourselves as people.

10. Jacobsen: Why do you think that adopting a social progressive outlook is important?

Mould: It is very important since our lives and our well-being depend on the environment and the kind of society we are in. Having bad cultural practices, harmful traditions, and laws could lead us backwards rather than providing us with a bright future for ourselves and the next generations around the world. I have grown to witness and live with hearing cases of child abuse at homes and in schools, seeing child trafficking on my streets, the handicapped begging, the mentally ill left naked to roam the streets, people dying of diseases that could have been prevented or cured, the loss of trust in policing and the judicial system and the effects of bad governance, bribery, and corruption on a populace.

People are growing ever so desperate that they are falling for the con of others using religion as a means of using them for their sexual perverted desires and money. Poverty is driving people to abandon their loved ones or accuse their own mothers of witchcraft in order for them to be put to death or banished from their communities for life. It is important that we do away with these in our societies as we have come to know better and rather look to our past which in the Akan language has a term called “Sankofa” which teaches us to learn from our past to build a better tomorrow.

11. Jacobsen: As a progressive, what do you think is the best socio-political position to adopt in the Ghana?

Mould: A major investment into Ghana’s educational system and the review of our school curriculum. Almost all government and private schools are influenced or owned by religious institutions and they dictate what should and should not be taught to our children. It is in schools that major indoctrination starts and stifles freethinking in children. It is also there that teachers are given a right to beat up children to enforce ‘god’s will’ of the “spare the rod, spoil the child’ culture. If our educational system is revamped as our 1st President, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, a humanist himself, started and envisioned it to be, Ghana could have a well-educated and empowered workforce to develop the country in all the other sectors.

I attended the first University built by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, The University of Ghana.

12. Jacobsen: You became a member of the Humanist Association of Ghana (HAG) in 2012. You helped organised the first ever West African Humanist Conference (2012), which was sponsored by the International Humanist and Ethical Youth Organisation (IHEYO). What tasks and responsibilities come along with volunteering and organising for the HAG?

Mould: At the time, our group was quite small but vibrant.

It was an exciting time to meet other Ghanaian atheists and agnostics and we were very pleased that IHEYO would entrust us with organising such a big event despite us being so new as a group. We did not have any formal leadership or an Executive Committee at the time so most of this was planned by volunteering members especially Graham Knight who helped to bring us together and started the Freethought Ghana group. I was then working for an Australian Mining Company out of Accra so I made myself available to attend and help with last minute preparations like picking up delegates from the airport to their hotel and vice versa after the event.

During the event, I volunteered to be at the information desk where I helped to register attendees, distribute pamphlets, notebooks, pens and provide drinking water. I also took it upon myself to film the conference since the funds were not enough for photo and video services. I also represented the group for interviews by local and international media. To be a volunteer, to me, is about helping however, wherever and whenever you can. Whether financially, using your skills or socially, any help at all goes a long way to achieve a successful event and team effort makes it even more motivating, fun and organised.

13. Jacobsen: In Ghanaian culture, what are some of the more effective means to teach critical thinking within the socio-cultural milieu?

Mould: Ghana is made up of a culturally diverse population. It consists of roughly 100 linguistic and cultural groups. These groups, clans and tribes, although very different from each other, have certain similarities in various aspects of their culture. In Ghana, a child is said to be raised by the whole village rather than just the nuclear family. Traditionally, information was passed on from generation to generation mainly through song and dance. However, in modern days, education not only begins from home but in schools, mainstream media such as TV, radio and religious institutions. As humanists, our focus has been with the youth in schools and social media.

14. Jacobsen: What about modern scientific ideas?

Mould: Most of the understanding of things around us are taught from home by parents and extended family members who usually pass on what they learnt from their elders. This is mostly dogmatic and superstitious rather than scientific even though the end result is meant to educate. Educational institutions are good grounds to teach modern scientific ideas. Ghana can boast of some of the best science institutions such as the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology as well as research centres such as the Noguchi Memorial institute.

We also have some of the most renowned Medical Teaching hospitals in the West
African region such as the Komfo Anokye and Korle-Bu Teaching Hospitals. Ghana
has the only Planetarium in West Africa which is 1 of only 3 on the continent,
which HAG members patronise and promote. There are also science programmes and
quiz competitions amongst schools on TV.

15. Jacobsen: What are the main barriers to teaching critical thinking and modern scientific ideas?

Mould: Lack of infrastructure, dedicated science teachers who are poorly paid, medical personnel and government interest has made our science sector struggle as compared to more developed countries. The average Ghanaian sees science as more theoretical and career-specific than practical. The understanding of science is seen mostly as a ‘Western’ construct than a global one. This could have stemmed from the fact that most modern inventions known to us came from Europe and the USA.

16. Jacobsen: As a Ghanaian and African, what seem like the positives and negatives of religion and religious fervour on individuals and communities in Ghana and Africa in general?

Mould: Using the major religions like Christianity, Islam and Traditional worship, the positives of religion are that they give a sense of community, feelings of love, boosts self-esteem and gives hope and inspiration. The negatives however, are countless. Many of which include spiritual leaders taking advantage of people financially and sexually, having delusional thoughts out of superstition and religious indoctrination, self- loathing, and guilt from unnecessary thoughts, a sense of false hope, illogical reasoning, lazy attitudes towards work and charity, a false sense of entitlement, mandates to abuse yourself and others most of which turn out to be fatal, etc.

17. Jacobsen: What big obstacles (if at all) do you see social-progressive movements facing at the moment?

Mould: 1. Lack of governmental/State support
2. Lack of funding or insufficient funds
3. Mismanagement of funds
4. Lack of public support
5. Inadequate and outdated rules of law
6. Insufficient legal backing and law enforcement

18. Jacobsen: How important do you think social movements are?

Mould: Social movements are very important especially in 3rd world countries in being the voice of the people and putting pressure on government and the people to review and approve the living conditions of people and the state of affairs of a country and its environment in the best interest of everyone. This is because despite democracy being adapted as a system of rule in most African countries, most of the time, cultural, traditional and religious biases steer the governments in the wrong direction and also because most of the countries may not have enough funding to care for its citizens and infrastructure.

19. Jacobsen: In November, 2015, you became President of the HAG and in July, 2016, the Chair of the IHEYO African Working Group. What do these elected-to positions mean to you?

Mould: In the beginning of joining the humanist movement, I honestly never really saw myself as a leader. I just wanted to contribute my quota. However, I started to realise I had it in me to do great things for my group when I wrote my first article and got the most hits online! I received over 200 comments within days of posting it.

Most of the comments were negative but I felt I had left a mark and got people thinking. It also got the group recognised. I was recommended to IHEYO for a position as Secretary of the African working group in 2014 and at the time, I did not have much on my portfolio as an activist so I was so surprised and over-the-top excited when I got the news that I had been elected by international humanists who barely knew me from a record number of nominations!!! I was grateful that they read through my nomination and entrusted me with the position, which I held for 2 years.

I took it very seriously and had a lot of guidance from the IHEYO EC whose President was Nicola Jackson. I saw how long the working group had been dormant, and so many things I could do to bring it to life and so many ideas started coming to me. I increased social media presence on our Facebook page for the African Working Group and membership increased from 12 to 183 members within 2 years (It is now over 230). I also started a new Twitter page, @IheyoAfwg, with 130 followers including local and international humanists and humanist organisations. I helped create a network of African humanists and humanist organisations that are in regular communication via email, skype and WhatsApp and I discovered several African humanists and organisations that I am in constant contact with to advise and guide.

In December 2014, I together with the Humanist Association of Ghana, hosted the 2nd West African Humanist Conference (WAHC), sponsored by HIVOS and IHEYO. Please see below for links to the videos of the 2-day event which was aired live online setting a record for my group: Day 1 — Day 2– I founded the HAGtivist podcast project and started it with other volunteering members of HAG.

I had been a contributor to the IHEYO newsletter Youthspeak personally and from various member organisations in Ghana and Nigeria, and I represented the working group at the recently held General Assembly (GA) in Malta this year. I was part of the team that helped to organise the first ever continent-wide humanist conference held in Kenya called the African Humanist Youth Days (AHYD 2016) in July. This year, I knew that if I won the election as Chair, there would be so much more I could do to lead the Working group and despite a new resolution to have only Working group MOs voting this time, I came out victorious once again.

I am grateful to my fellow African humanists for their support and belief in me. It was on the same day I also received news of our election from HAG that I had also gained the position from Interim President in November 2015 to President elect in July 2016. It was truly humbling that my work was recognised and my fellow members had given me the responsibility of representing our group of highly intelligent, creative and wonderful people. These 2 positions come with the responsibility of representing Africa positively, dedicating a lot of time and resources, being passionate, bold, charismatic, firm, principled, professional, discerning, and diplomatic.

I believe that history is to be made this time round with young African humanists, and I am really happy to have the opportunity to be one of the ones at the forefront of change at this time setting a foundation for generations to come.

20. Jacobsen: Who are personal heroes within the culture?

Mould: Historically, there are many personalities that are celebrated in Ghana. Some of my personal heroes are Yaa Asantewaa, an Ashanti Queen mother who, in 1900, led the Ashanti rebellion known as the War of the Golden Stool, also known as the Yaa Asantewaa war, against British colonialism. Her courage and bravery for a woman of her time inspires me.

Our first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah is also one of the most renowned figures in Africa. He was born in a small village in Ghana and was able to finish his education in 1 of the most prestigious institutions in the world at Oxford University, returned home a humanist and fought for Ghana’s independence from the British, making Ghana the 1st African country to be free from colonial rule in 1957. He was able to transform Ghana by providing us with our first and largest Hydroelectric dam, free basic school education, universities, science centres, Highways, our only International airport, our biggest port, etc. which we enjoy to this day.

In modern times, I have come to admire the work of our current
Minister for Gender, Children and Social Protection, Nana Oye Lithur. Although
Christian, even before her Ministerial appointment, as a Lawyer, she has helped
fight for the rights of the LGBT community despite serious opposition, worked
Pro bono to solve many domestic cases especially those against women and
children and is working tirelessly through her Ministry in assisting alleged
witches banished from their communities.

21. Jacobsen: What is your favourite scientific discovery ever?

Mould: Electricity! It forms such an integral part of modern day living that I cannot imagine where we would be without it.

22. Jacobsen: What philosopher(s), or philosophy/philosophies, best represent your own views about aesthetics, ethics, metaphysics, and politics?

Mould: I do not follow any philosophers in particular because I have not read about any. Instead, various documentaries have helped shape my thoughts on various aspects of life. I am a lover of nature, science and art. I am not interested much in politics and I derive my ethics from logic, constant research and debates amongst friends and members of HAG.

23. Jacobsen: Who seem like the greatest anti-scientific representatives in Ghana?

Mould: Religious leaders!

24. Jacobsen: What about the greatest anti-scientific and anti-humanistic movements within Ghana?

Mould: Ghana’s greatest enemy in the progress of science and technological advancement is religion. It is the only and greatest barrier because it allows for so much wrong to go on with little or no opposition. From faith healing, false prophecies, work ethics, illogical theories, women’s oppression, authoritarianism, human rights abuse, bribery and corruption, etc. Ghana is highly religious in the sense that everything that happens is attributed to a deity or superstition or both! If something good happens, it is “By His (God’s) grace”, if something bad happens, it is “God’s will” or “the devil’s work” or “a bad spirit” or “angry ancestors”. It is almost impossible to argue with people no matter how educated because of this train of thought.

Religion is not a private matter as most religious countries practice. Here, it is allowed everywhere and anyone who stands in the way of their ideology or spiritual leader is an enemy of progress to them. Most homes force relatives to pray at odd hours loudly and some go on the streets at midnight to pray or preach. In the public buses, herbal medicine traders who also double as Christian pastors are allowed to stand and preach for hours during the journey. At work, highly religious entrepreneurs and Managers force employees to sing and pray before and after work. All official meetings and occasions, private or public begin and end with a prayer. Our entire lives are circulated around prayer and worship of one deity or another. There is little space for intellectual conversations and critical thinking.

25. Jacobsen: What can external associations, collectives, organisations, and even influential individuals, do to assist you in your professional endeavours in Ghana?

Mould: I implore all external associations, collectives, organisations to partner with legitimate, active organisations here especially HAG. I advise that not only should they support the work of HAG, but also keep following up on our work. You may support the activities of HAG through bringing in substantive ideas, financial aid, materials such as books, clothes, Resource persons, promoting our activities on social media and mainstream media and influential people can also visit to help promote our work and start fundraising campaigns that would be widely reached.

26. Jacobsen: International women’s empowerment, equality, and rights are important to me. What is the status of women regarding empowerment, equality, and rights in Ghana?

Mould: I am very happy to be born at a time when women empowerment is starting to benefit the masses. However, there are several factors that are hampering empowerment and gender equality in Ghana, which include Cultural and religious beliefs. I wrote an extensive article regarding this issue in March 2016.

27. Jacobsen: Can humanism improve the status of women in Ghana more than traditional religious structures, doctrines, and beliefs?

Mould: Most definitely it can! This is because, humanism emphasises the value of all human beings regardless of gender and promotes wellbeing of people whereas religion and superstition creates an illusion of differences between the gender making men feel superior than women. Humanism also brings about a sense of selflessness and working to better the lives of the deprived in society which are mostly women.

28. Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Roslyn.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Former President, Humanist Association of Ghana; Chair,  African Working Group (IHEYO).

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: www.in-sightjournal.com/mould.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Roslyn Mould [Online].November 2018; 1(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mould.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Roslyn MouldRetrieved from www.in-sightjournal.com/mould.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Roslyn MouldAfrican Freethinker. 1.A, November. 2018. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mould>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Roslyn Mould.African Freethinker. 1.A. www.in-sightjournal.com/mould.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Roslyn Mould.African Freethinker. 1.A (November 2018). www.in-sightjournal.com/mould.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Roslyn Mould, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A. Available from: <www.in-sightjournal.com/mould>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Roslyn Mould, African Freethinker, vol. 1.A., www.in-sightjournal.com/mould.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Roslyn Mould.” African Freethinker 1.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <www.in-sightjournal.com/mould>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Roslyn Mould [Internet]. (2018, November; 1(A). Available from: www.in-sightjournal.com/mould.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 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 and African Freethinker 2012-2018. 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 African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 1.A, Idea: Ghanaian Secular Leaders and Thought

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: Ghana’s 5%

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

Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018

Issue Publication Date: TBD

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 2,522

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Michael Osei-Assibey is the President of the Humanist Association of Ghana. He discusses: humanism and irreligion; work prior to humanist positions; formal title now and tasks and responsibilities; inspiration; important books; emotionally trying experiences as a humanist; educational initiatives; social and political initiatives; trajectories; perennial threats to the freedom of the irreligious; and final thoughts.

Keywords: President, Humanist Association of Ghana, Michael Osei-Assibey.

An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey: President, Humanist Association of Ghana[1],[2]

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

*Originally published in Humanist Voices (1 & 2).*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: Did you start off a humanist? What’s your story into irreligion in general and humanism in particular?

Michael Osei-Assibey: I will like to believe so, but honestly I doubt that is possible in the settings I found myself. I have always enjoyed myths and fairy-tales. I grew up in a very religious household but my mother encouraged my love for reading. I will spend hours with my face in a story — chasing endings. It also helped that I was moved around a lot as a kid and each household I found myself in practised their faith differently. So, from age 6 to about 13, I went through about 6 different denominations of Christianity and, courtesy of my grandmother (a Muslim), practised Islam for a few months.

I was intrigued by the traditions and practices of all these beliefs but I always held them in the same regard as Greek mythology or the Legends told to me in my Akan and Ga traditional folk-tales. However, in moments of crisis or when overcome by fear, I will always have a strong urge to believe and hoped that I could say a few words and all will be well.

In senior high school, I started performing some thought experiments and had, for instance, one of my shoes as my god for a while to see how belief affects my life. I was surprised when I found out I seemed to be happier and had more luck in general. I realized having a belief may give one a positive outlook on life but it had no consequence on reality or the facts of life. This I will say was the pivotal moment in my journey to irreligion. I disassociated myself from organized religion right after senior high, preferring to apply reason and logic to everything.

Studying engineering in the university also helped to hone my analytical skills and made me want to perform a root cause analysis on any subject. I believe in trying to find the solution to living an ethical faithless life is how I stumbled on humanism. I may have been a humanist a long while before I even put a name to it but doing that 8 years ago was able to help me focus more on what I wanted from this journey.

2. Jacobsen: What kind of work did you do before the humanist positions?

Osei-Assibey: I am a building service engineer with a speciality in mechanical and plumbing systems. It is what I do to put food on the table so I can concentrate on humanism. Being a part of the built environment industry and running my own design firm affords me the time to do the things I am also passionate about.

3. Jacobsen: What is your formal position title now? What tasks as responsibilities come with it?

Osei-Assibey: I am currently the elected President of the Humanist Association of Ghana (HAG). I was the Organizing Secretary of the same organization in the previous cycle. I am also a board member of the Humanist Service Corps. I remember in thanking my colleagues and friends for giving me the opportunity to serve them as president, I told them my position will be in name only. To me “president” sounds too ominous so I prefer to see myself as a project manager and group cheerleader. My main job is to keep the association together and our projects running smoothly, together with my executive committee. In order to get all the members involved in as many of the activities as possible, we try to break activities into teams with every team member being a stakeholder in ensuring the success of that activity. One of the most difficult tasks that comes with the job is being the face and voice of the association. I plan however, to make my presidency about showcasing the outstanding individuals in the organization.

4. Jacobsen: Who inspires you?

Osei-Assibey: Remarkably, I am most inspired by the stories of the individuals in my organization, and the many humanists, feminists and freethinking youth I have met in person and online. Given how religious and antagonistic our society is towards new ideas, it takes intrepidity to be a freethinker and to be open about it. Even more so, whenever I hear the passion with which ideas and solutions are discussed and the depths of intellectualism involved, as well as the zeal to go out there and get things done, it gives me hope for Ghana and Africa.

5. Jacobsen: What book continually enlightens you — worth the re-reads?

Osei-Assibey: This is a good question. It’s not going to be any of the usual suspects, I promise. I spent my teenage years performing so many thought experiments about the human condition, reading on the subject feels like being in an echo chamber. One book however that I can read over and over again is Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It doesn’t read like your normal sci-fi and you can start reading from any chapter and somehow, it makes sense! Within are so many commentaries on the human condition but they are presented in a humorous and subtle manner that makes for an excellent read. Most importantly, there are no endings to chase. For those who like to over analyse everything, it’s the perfect book to write numerous thesis on. To those who just want to relax, it will have you smiling and shaking your head at the sheer ridiculousness of it all.

6. Jacobsen: What has been an emotionally trying experience as a humanist in Ghana?

Osei-Assibey: There certainly has been and will be many experiences that will be emotionally trying for humanists in Ghana but personally, it’s been the times that bigotry cut close to home. We can not choose the families we are born into and one can only hope that the people you love will share the same empathy you have for humanity. However, it is that same level of empathy that helped me through those times, with the realisation that we are a product of our environment. It spurred me on to talk about issues of sexual orientation, tribalism, religious intolerance and critical thinking with members of my family, no matter how uncomfortable it got.

7. Jacobsen: What are the ongoing educational initiatives of the Humanist Association of Ghana?

Osei-Assibey: HAG started a book drive, I believe in December of last year. One of our member, Helen List, Owner of the Afia Beach Hotel, organized a Christmas book drive to make a Christmas Tree out of books which she donated a majority of to the HAG efforts. The working plan is to encourage reading in the public schools in our communities. HAG has been in talks with the Kotobabi Cluster of Schools to listen to their problems and discuss whatever solutions they propose and how we could be of help. Although their problems seemed overwhelming as with all other public schools, HAG is committed to helping out however that we can. The First step is the donation of books and stationery to the primary schools as well as working with Learning Support Solution to provide learning support to the students. We also intend to create relationships between the private schools with access to educational psychologists and teachers with specializations to create an avenue for sharing ideas. HAG is also in talks with the Accra Planetarium to find a way to get the students in these schools interested in Science and experience the universe in the planetarium.

HAG already has a relationship with the Young Adults Support Services of OAfrica, a non-profit working to empowers children and young adults in need of care and protection because of institutionalization, abandonment, neglect, disability or abuse to become productive members of the community. We have had a presentation with the young adults under their care on social issues and hope to continue along the same lines of bringing the discussions to them and giving them the tools of critical thinking to be able to discuss these ideas.

Members of HAG also run the HAGtivist podcast which is in its third season. On there, we discuss social, political and cultural issues through a humanist perspective.

Finally, we hope to start debate programs in at least one university before the first quarter of next year. Universities are supposed to be breeding grounds for free thinking but that is not currently the case. We hope that these debate programs will change that.

8. Jacobsen: What are the current social and political activist projects of the Humanist Association of Ghana?

Osei-Assibey: As much as HAG tries not to be reactionary, it is difficult given the climate we find ourselves. Our online activities targets LGBTQ rights in Ghana with our most recent one being an open letter to the speaker of parliament (insert link) on his homophobic stance. Our monthly meetings invite the general public to discussions on activism, inequality, climate change, political and economic thought, etc. Currently, we are having conversations on the marriage between economics and humanism in order to better understand the inequalities in our society and how to tackle them.

HAG also affiliates itself with pro-environment groups such as Environment 360, and we will be participating in this year’s Float Your Boat competition (an initiative to raise funds to educate kids about being environmentally aware) of which we were last years winners. We designed and constructed a raft using recycled plastic bottles, and raced with it.

Our current focus online is starting conversations on critical thinking with a series of articles planned to discuss the issue of pseudo-science in our healthcare system. The rise of homeopathic clinics and alternative medicine centres is worrying and we need to help with the sensitisation/education of the public of the potential damage they can cause.

9. Jacobsen: What are the likely trajectories of the humanist movement in Ghana for the next 5 years?

Osei-Assibey: One of the few things that fills me with hope is the increasing number of people asking questions and showing signs of scepticism. A few years ago, social media was flooded with religion, pseudoscience and people falling for all sorts of scams. However, more people seem to be asking questions now and being more sceptical about information that they receive. This trend give me hope because it is out of scepticism that humanism is birthed. There are also a lot more openly irreligious people and a lot more people openly criticizing religion with some movements even arising within churches themselves, questioning the historicity and morality of the bible and the activities of the church and religious leaders. What do I see this culminating to in 5 years? The last poll in 2010 placed nones at a little over 5%. By 2022, nones should be over 10% of the population with humanists, atheists and agnostics making a chunk of that number.

10. Jacobsen: Who are the perennial threats to the freedom to be irreligious in Ghana?

Osei-Assibey: The biggest threats are those who will be most affected by an irreligious, secular society. Religious leaders have been increasingly whipping up the hate against people who do not believe or finding subtle ways to reaffirm the faiths of their flock by pitting them against logic and reasoning. There are many times that religious leaders have been called out for their actions but seem unfazed, bouncing back with more rhetoric about how the ways of their deity is mysterious or how the “anointed” can not be touched. Sometimes, it feels like they are grasping at straws and the backlash they receive from other people of faith give me hope that their power and influence on society is waning. In our organization, we have come to realize that economic independence is also a major factor in presenting non-belief or coming out as irreligious especially to the youth who are mostly still dependent on their parents or family. I have sometimes had to advise friends not to reveal their non-belief to family yet in order not to face the most likely harsh results of being disowned.

11. ​Jacobsen: Any final feelings or thoughts?

Osei-Assibey: Becoming a humanist was a tough decision because it meant I will be going against the grain with respect to family and society at large. What has made it easier is the relationships that have been cultivated into one that I can call family. I found the love of my life, a feminist and a humanist, who shares my passion for fighting inequality wherever we find it and we will be getting married in December. I also found friends who add meaning to my life and share in the crazy notion that we can effect positive change in our own small way, and in our own small circles that may resonate and ripple across the entire country and continent.

12. Jacobsen: Thank you for your time, Michael.​

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] President, Humanist Association of Ghana.

[2] Individual Publication Date: November 1, 2018: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey [Online].November 2018; 1(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2018, November 1). An Interview with Michael Osei-AssibeyRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey. Ghana’s 5%. 1.A, November. 2018. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey.Ghana’s 5%. 1.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey.Ghana’s 5%. 1.A (November 2018). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey, Ghana’s 5%, vol. 1.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2018, ‘An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey, Ghana’s 5%, vol. 1.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey.” Ghana’s 5% 1.A (2018):November. 2018. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. An Interview with Michael Osei-Assibey [Internet]. (2018, November; 1(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/assibey.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and African Freethinker 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 and African Freethinker 2012-2018. 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 African Freethinker with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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