Well, I don’t like that much to talk, publically about my daily life. But, this time, I have to. So, I’ll express what I feel about my year, my two semesters, of English class. First, I recognize that it’s quite useful to practice English all day long if you want to improve your skills in this language. That’s logical. That’s why I think I have improved my level of English this year. It is surely because the atmosphere was friendly and the topics quite interesting. This led everyone to express itself
However, I don’t really side with the fact that giving hundred words to learn per week would be a good idea since we forget most of them and many of them may be quite useless. It would be better to talk about some important words we can find in a text. That would make the comprehension and the interest easier. Moreover, it would also be useful, at least for the students next year, to clearly explain what the teacher expects of his students. Most of the time, we don’t really understand what is wanted for an essay, for a resume or for anything else. Giving examples and doing this kind of things in class may be helpful.
So, to conclude, I am globally satisfied by the English class, but, I have been quite surprised by the content of the course and sometimes I wondered about the fact what I saw was relevant or not since it was very different from what I did during the past seven years.
This last Friday, the whole Europe became once more again very European. This time, it’s not because of politics, but rather because of football. The European Championship of football takes place in Austria and Switzerland until the beginning of July and will oppose the best nations and teams of this sport. Then, it’s a way for this continent, through the competition to share a new experience, to share cultures or other stuffs such as different views of way of playing football or sharing blows, when hooligans meet other ones.
Why this event is important? Despite its European dimension, it’s also the second most important competition of football because of the quality of the team involved, after the world cup. They are the best teams on Earth except Brazil or Argentina (or England because they have been eliminated during the qualifying series). So, we will be able to attend some matches between France, Italy, Netherland, Germany, Spain and Portugal. When we know that, during the last world cup in 2006 the 4 semi-finalists were France, Italy, Portugal and Germany, so four European nations, you understand why the “Euro” is that important for football fans. That’s why I need to see the match between France and Germany this afternoon!
Japan is a country which attracts many people, from all over the world, in Asia, Europe or America; but it is also maybe one of the most difficult cultures to understand. Why this country is so special? I would answer, even if I’m not a specialist, that it is maybe because of its history and more precisely because of two eras, the two most important ones I think, which are the Edo era and the Meiji era. Moreover Japan is an island and its insularity may also help us to explain why Japanese feel special.
So, my two points will be about the Edo and the Meiji eras, the two periods I assume they deeply influenced the Japanese mentality.
The Edo era was the one of the unification of Japan thanks to Ieyasu Tokugawa who became the shogun in 1603, that is to say the military and political chief of the country. From 1603 to 1868, the country was under a sclerotic government which divided the population into different classes, who were unequal and which lived in autarky from 1638 to 1854, which is called the Sakoku rei, in English it is the closure of the country. During more than two centuries, Japan developed and lived alone and refused interactions with almost every country. This era is the reason of the specificity of the Japanese culture since there wasn’t any foreign influence and it could be developed easily. Thus, the Edo era may explain the specificity of the Japanese culture, the fact it’s different from everywhere in Asia.
In 1853, the Admiral Perry came in Japan and forced Japan to be opened again since the archaic army couldn’t resist against these invaders. Then, in 1868, after a civil war, the Emperor Mutsuhito became the ruler of Japan and decided to modernize the country according to its five charter oath he promulgated in which he said that Japan would abandon the Edo’s legacy, they would modernize by all means and that they would seek knowledge all over the world in order to develop the country. This is a deep shift with the previous era and this is the explanation of the fast development of Japan which made up their backwardness towards the Western powers in about 50 years which is totally wonderful and unbelievable. The Meiji era explains how Japan became that developed and modernized despite its tradition and its past.
So, we may assume that Edo is the explanation of the Japanese’s specificity and Meiji the explanation of its development, the reason why it was the first non Western power. All these reasons may explain why Japan is that interesting.
During the last three months, the diplomatic relationships between France and China were getting worse and worse. It is because of the protestations, in Paris, against the Chinese repression in Tibet and the fact Nicolas Sarkozy threatened China not to go to the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing. It was seen as a betrayal by the Chinese who decided to protest back and to boycott the French products, like the Americans did in 2003.
This is not that surprising and it can be easily understood because of nationalism, dogmatism, shape of minds etc. I will not talk about it one more time but I assume you know my point about it. However, the fact the government accepts this kind of xenophobia and the fact it promotes this behavior is less understandable. Indeed, last week, the Chinese government was said to have forbidden travels’ companies to propose the French destination. It is a way to avenge against France because it is one of the major revenue of this country. The effects of such a decision have already been seen since many reservations from China have been cancelled and it’s going to be worse and worse. Hence, it would be difficult to be optimistic about the future of these two countries since even the Chinese government agrees with the reject of France.
Maybe you all know what I think about the president of my country, Nicolas Sarkozy, who celebrated two weeks ago the first birthday of his election. As you may all know, I totally disagree with his policies concerning foreign affairs, immigration, security and economy. The last policy I talked about will be the point of my article.
First, I would like to summarize briefly the economic situation of France which is not that great, and this is a euphemism. Indeed, the public debt increased in 2007 and it represents 64.2 % of the GDP, two third of our GDP that is to say around 1000 billion Euros. Besides, the trade balance is in deficit since we lost around 30 billion Euros and we can add that it’s going to be worse and worse since the expenditures will be increased by 4% whereas the tax cuts will cost 14 billion Euros this year and 68 billion Euros on the long run. This is, as said in an article from The Economist, an unrealistic policy. Of course, the frightening economic situation of France is not the fault of Nicolas Sarkozy, because he has just been elected a year ago, however, he has been elected thanks to a liberal and ambitious program he doesn’t respect. Indeed, he abandoned the abortion of the 35 hours a week because of the many protestations and the fear to lose the next elections or he abandoned the Social Added Tax in order not to lose the legislative elections of July 2007. This, could provoke serious disasters because it is not the “revolution” he promised and he continued to play an ambiguous partition with the liberal cuts in taxes and the Keynesian increase of expenditures.
To conclude, I know it’s difficult to judge a mandate so soon or before its term, but nobody can deny that the situation worries many of us. The policy has to be changed, if not, the French economy would be jeopardize and the consequences would be dramatic.
On the May 2nd 2008, quite recently in fact, a hurricane violently hit Myanmar (or Burma, both are accepted) provoking around 77 000 deaths according to the military junta, but the result seems to be heavier that what we’re told, reaching between 100 000 and 300 000 according to the United Nations. This tragic events would provoke much more havocs than the terrible tsunami of December 2004 which killed around 100 000 people in the whole Asia. So, we have really good reasons to be upset about the situation, because the most frightening thing is that the government doesn’t act as it should do, which will increase the tragic outcome.
What do I say so? It’s simple, and I’ll explain why. Before the arrival of the hurricane, the Myanmar’s government had been informed by Indian specialists that the catastrophe was coming and it would be powerful. Despite of that, the junta didn’t do anything, didn’t warn the population and the result is that Burmese didn’t know anything about it and were not prepared for that. That can explain such a catastrophe. Moreover, this same government refused to allow Non Governmental Organizations such as the Red Cross to enter the country and then to help the needed, who are around 2 billion, and who are lacking of food and medical cares. This is awful and dramatic to abandon a population who is dying. How the military junta can do this, and how can it lie, saying to the rest of the world and its people via television that the situation is under control and that the soldiers are numerous and efficient enough to solve the problem. Maybe, and it’s surely true, it’s because of the constitutional referendum of this Sunday, the government wants to win and doesn’t want to delay, diminishing more and more the freedom of the people. How some rulers can reason like this? How come a country can be led by such an absurd government? How can political leaders be that cynical? I have no idea about it. This people deserves to be helped but it’s not possible because of its rulers. That’s indefensible and I really agree with Bernard Kouchner, the French foreign affairs minister (for once) when he says that we may consider the possibility to use the humanitarian intervention of the United Nations because this is a case of emergency. The conclusion of all of this could be, this is another reason to become misanthropist or to doubt about the human kindness.
As far as I remember, the main conversations I had about the European Union were not that great. Indeed, most of people don’t understand a lot about the European Union and are a bit afraid about it. I admit that I was one of them during many years, and even today, I don’t pretend to understand everything. Of course, most of people in Europe are proud to belong to the most important and successful regional organization on earth. But why people are not that enthusiastic about it?
The reason of such an incomprehension between the People and the Union is maybe due to the media and the national politicians. That is a bit weird when, watching the News, we notice that journalists don’t know much more that you about the European Union and its institutions whereas they try to explain it to the people. How can we understand it then? Besides, when the national governments decide an unpopular measure, they always say (it’s the case in France, the country I know the most) they have to act like this because it is a European decision and they are powerless. So, after decades of liars, people began to feel afraid and reluctant towards its Union, but it’s unfair.
So, what’s the solution? First, promote the decisions and the improvements due to the European Union would be a good idea because we forget that thanks to the EU, the fear of war between Europeans has disappeared and maybe the reason of the economical growth of this continent is because the EU. Second, explaining well the functioning of this Union would allow people to know who does what and what the role of the Union is in our daily life, what’s our own role etc. Third, stopping lying about the constraints of the EU would minimize the trend of “euro-skepticism” which is not well informed and convert most of them into the euro-optimistic trend.
So, we can find solutions in order to popularize the European Union and, if I’ve been able to understand a little bit how it works, everybody can do it!
Today, Condoleezza Rice went to Israel in order to ask Ehoud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, to break the walls its country built around the Palestinian territory. The United States, since the last year when George W. Bush decided to solve the problem in Israel and Palestine, changed their position in this geopolitical problem, and we must applause it.
We can’t forget the unlimited support of George W. Bush towards Israel and against, in a sense, the Palestinian people. It was obvious that the Israeli army and government abused their power against the people they ostracized from their land in 1947. I don’t want to side with those who say Israel stole the Palestinian territory (what is quite true in a sense) and must leave this “innocent” people alone.
The problem is that it’s too late now for Israeli people to leave their country because they built it and they deserve to live there now. Moreover, we can’t side with those, such as the Hamas’ militants or Mahmoud Ahmadinedjad president of Iran, who want to “score out Israel from the map”. Such a speech is intolerable and we have to condemn it.
However, accepting that this new state, because it’s supported by the most powerful country of the world, I mean the United States, can do everything it wants toward a weaker population is unacceptable. During too much time, the United States didn’t say anything against those awful deeds what maybe provoked the anti-American feeling all over the world and especially in the Arabic world which considered that the United States were against the Arabic people. So, trying to solve the problem by changing its strategy may be a good opportunity for this area which suffered too much of the conflict between Palestine and Israel.
As I’m from Guadeloupe, I have heard, during the many years I spent there, a lot about a man, who fought against the paradox of a society, of a country, of a people towards a part of what composes the French Identity. Aimé Césaire, a wonderful writer from Martinique, a politician and a philosopher died this week, he was 94 years old.
He left us an awesome legacy. With Leopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Gontran Damas, he created a literary movement, called “negritude” which gathered black-French-speaking writers, who were proud to be what they were, that is to say, Blacks, from Africa, with their own culture and their differences. He was the symbol of this people, which resisted against the policies of “assimilation” which were done by French governments, against the behavior and the prejudices that French people could have towards black people etc. He was and he is still the best representation of what the “French colonies” can create.
Furthermore, he was also an important politician in Martinique since he was a deputy from this Island and the mayor of Fort-de-France, the main city of Martinique. He will be remembered and loved by the people Martinique for everything this socialist did.
Many people attended his funerals, in order to salute for the last time one of the greatest French man of the XXth century. Many people from West Indies and from Africa wanted to thank him for everything he did, for having defended his people. Besides, French politicians such as Nicolas Sarkozy, Segolene Royal, François Bayrou, Lionel Jospin, Laurent Fabius etc. were in Fort-de-France too. Their presence is important since it is the proof that the fight he did during his whole life was fair and was not vain. Nowadays, we need other people like him to continue to spread his ideas, to continue to allow French people and governments to change their mind, to consider ethnic differences as wealth, to promote them, not to hide them. We must thank him and the others who share his ideas, in a sense they avoid the risk to deny the terrible policies France has done in its elder colonies. This is our conscious, we should listen to it.
After the fiasco of the Olympic flame’s tour in Paris, France became one of the enemies of China, maybe the worst. What is the reason of such hatred between two people which were so happy to trade few months ago? Maybe I gave one of the reasons, that is to say, the numerous protestations of French people against China and the actions of its government. They consider this regime as one of the most authoritarian and one of the most imperialistic. Who is true? French and Western people who think that the Chinese government is awfully unfair or the Chinese people who consider that their government is not that authoritarian and that the Western vision broadcast by the media about their country is totally biased. Well, what about the vision of CCTV, one of the most important Chinese channel? Is it a model of objectivity? Who is true, who is wrong?
This week, a lot of protestations occurred in several Chinese cities (even in Paris, by the Chinese population which lives in France). Their goal was to protest against the Western world and especially France. Maybe we could compare this with what happened in the US after France refused to go in Iraq. Some American wanted to boycott French products and they hated French people, like some Chinese today. During the protests, some slogans and some banners were quite shocking. Indeed, they said that Jeanne d’Arc was a prostitute or they drew Nazi signs upon a French Flag. It is surprising that the Chinese government allowed these protestations and these messages whereas they refuse most of the time the other projects of protests. It is the third one allowed since 1989.
So, maybe the Chinese government tries to gather its people against a common enemy, against a different world which doesn’t understand them, which doesn’t like them. It’s easier to unify a people against something than for something.
Of course it’s difficult to judge a country according to its own criteria, and the reaction of Chinese people is easily understandable. However, it would be better not to criticize the media of a country whereas the media of its own country do the same, or are maybe worse. Of course it’s not possible to apply a regime which works in a country upon another one, but, we can’t deny that what happen in some countries such as repression, tortures, shape of minds, violation of Human Rights etc. would rather be deleted all over the world. That is why I always promote the ability of everybody to criticize what needs to be criticized in order to avoid what would rather be avoided. Well, my point is not to say that my vision is the best ever. Nevertheless, I want people to know that the criticisms that we saw in France or in other Western countries were not against the Chinese people. We can’t criticize a whole people, and it’s even worse when it is formed of more than 1.3 billion people and more than 50 ethnic groups. Those protests were against political elite, a government. The solution is not to feel offended and to hide against nationalism. It would be better to use the criticisms of the other in order to improve the situation. It’s an idealistic point of view, but I wanted to be idealistic once.