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27 November, 2011

WHO WILL REPLY TO UNANSWERED QUESTIONS? JEROME TEELUCKSINGH, Ph.D.

International Men’s Day deals with current issues and debates. Freedom of speech, opinion and expression are crucial in any democracy. But this freedom has its boundaries. Any comments and criticisms will allow the promoters and supporters of IMD to improve our efforts, reshape strategies and reassess goals. We live in a constantly changing society with diverse voices. Thus, we must expect debates and different views on values, religion, gender, political ideology, morals, ethics and behavior. Which version of democracy is the most suitable for a country? Probably we need to accept the various shades of democracy that exist across the world.

Who will decide what is right and wrong? The government might believe that a jail term of fifty years is justice for a guilty murderer. Is it justice for the victim and the victim’s family? Many loosely use the terms ‘liberation’ and ‘freedom’. Is there one definition for such terms? Some perceive freedom as being allowed to criticize the government and dress differently. How can the poor boast of freedom? How can a democratic country allow racism, corruption and inequality to exist? Is it freedom if you have the right to vote but do not have access to proper health care?

What or who will be the yardstick to measure morals? Should the laws of a country decide on the behaviour or freedom of its citizens? Should traditional value systems be regularly replaced by new values? Will our actions decide our fate after death? Is religion improving society? Is it useless to attempt to change society? Can one person or group create permanent, positive changes? Should the decisions of the majority influence the minority? How can the voices of the minority be heard? Should we accept inequalities and injustices? Can we truly celebrate differences and diversity? Will permanent peace ever be achieved? International Men’s Day must try to find answers for these questions, offer suggestions and share ideas that would be beneficial to society.

BREAKING LAWS AND EMPTYING MINDS: JEROME TEELUCKSINGH, Ph.D.


“I know the concept explaining the formation of rain but show me the law that says millions of human beings must suffer from malnutrition or live without clean water. I understand the biological explanation that humans need air to survive but show me the law which states that humans must be forced to live in slums and polluted areas. I know the law of nature where some animals hunt each other to survive but show me the law that proves human beings must kill, injure or shoot fellow humans. I know the scientific law of gravity but please explain to me which laws state that gender inequality, murder and child abuse must exist.”

This was my opening statement I had posed to my undergraduate History class of 70 students in 2009. They were all confused. They did not expect these questions on the first day of a supposedly boring History class that was restricted to the past! I asked another question- Is it possible to create a world without poverty, injustice, sadness, racism or pollution? They said no. I wanted these students to understand that WE can find solutions for problems that WE created.

After class they began talking amongst themselves and with students from other department and faculties. I wanted them to be empowered to chart a new path and make history! Likewise, International Men’s Day wants to challenge you and others to create new paths. IMD wants you to dream bigger dreams.

There is a need to develop new and more effective tactics, design better policies and monitor their implementation in an effort to eradicate socio-economic problems in all countries. Why must a developing country’s currency be so devalued and worthless that its people are forced to sell body organs or become prostitutes? Why must thousands suffer and die because of a lack of basic medicine, clean water or food? Why were we apathetic bystanders whilst genocides occurred? Have we done anything to reduce human trafficking? We must break these so-called ‘laws’ of ignorance, apathy or uncaring attitudes. We must rid society of any unwritten rules that prevent justice.

International Men’s Day must have significance to the millions of persons who confront unemployment and oppressive political regimes. On a daily basis many persons painfully endure civil wars, illiteracy, overpopulation, infectious diseases, corruption, desertification, uncontrolled crime, a deplorable health care system and a lack of clean water. In many developing countries, the debt burdens deplete already scarce human and material resources. These are the persons who must be welcomed into the ever growing IMD family.

Political and economic concepts and phrases are meaningless to the poor. The unemployed and the poor do not care about fancy economic terms or reports relating to the productivity of a country. One thought is on the minds of the sick and those in poverty – survival.

We argue and debate over land ownership and the superiority of ethnicity, religion, political ideology, gender, class and caste. The result is that nobody is fully empowered.

Is it too much to ask that you should respect and accommodate different views? Is it too much to ask that you treat others with dignity? Is it too much to ask that you treat other persons as human beings? Is it too much for our political leaders to ensure education and health care are available and accessible for all human beings? Politicians who do not want a caring society would fear some or all of the 6 Objectives of IMD. Oppressive, corrupt and uncaring governments would certainly be against International Men’s Day.

For some persons, the danger of IMD is that it threatens to uproot the inequalities and alienation plaguing our society. Those who abuse the environment will see International Men’s Day as a danger to their selfish interests. For a few, the danger of IMD is that it promises to shake foundations of stigmatization and discrimination. Some people believe IMD is the antidote for poisoned minds and the medicine which would ease the pains of the marginalized. We need to empty our minds of doubt and low confidence. We need to envision a world where International Men’s Day will be part of the solution.


PRODUCING LEADER-FOLLOWER: JEROME TEELUCKSINGH, Ph.D.

We all know the importance of a good leader. Effective leaders of armies, governments, religious institutions and schools usually possess certain qualities. A company would pay millions of dollars for a skilled and competent CEO. In turn this leader would be expected to ensure there are profits and sound management. There are many books, audio tapes and DVDs which focus on creating the ultimate leader.

Some leaders demand or earn their respect and admiration. This is a result of their training, education, experience, eloquence and/or charisma. International Men’s Day has been able to expand because of suitable leaders and supporters who listen and learn from each other. It is a simple success story which ensures the success and survival of this Day.

Today’s world demands a modified leader. He or she must be flexible. There is need for a leader who is also a follower. This leader-follower or leader-supporter is someone who is willing to listen to advice from others. The leader-follower must be willing to welcome new ideas from persons at lower levels, outsiders and newcomers. In such an environment there is also another empowered individual emerging: the follower-leader or supporter-leader.

The chain of command is not broken but instead the lines of communication are strengthened. This prevents or reduces the weak links who would be blamed for failures or losses. Under such conditions of equal opportunity to express himself or herself, the follower or supporter possesses a genuine voice or role and there is no tokenism. This will allow for a maximization of human resources as the employee, supporter or follower feels valued and worthy. Thus, such empowerment will allow for less hostility, reduced competition for the leadership position and more progress to ensure the organization succeeds or is profitable.

International Men’s Day does not distinguish between leaders, followers and supporters. The supporter-leader and the leader-supporter are equal. Both listen to each other and display a mutual respect during their exchange of ideas. It prevents a weak link among the supporters and followers because each person feels appreciated. In this framework, there is a sharing of decision-making processes and achievements.

The follower-leader has the opportunity to lead, take initiative and is given credit for ideas. This concept is not to be confined to the business or government. I’m sure that within the home, there will be peace and stability when the voices of all family members are considered.

Such a concept (leader-follower or follower-leader) is not new and already exists within International Men’s Day. Yes, International Men's Day allows for a global campaign which values each person and thus able to provide direction and embrace unique styles of leadership.