My research Monday, Apr 9 2007 

I have found some information about forced collectivization in books and some articles from EBSCOHOST alothough some articles seem very biased. I will filter them and put on my next blog what I am going to use for my research paper, I have found a lot of statistics but then again one has to assess the values and limitations of sources.

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The reasons behing the Holodomor Thursday, Apr 5 2007 

The main person behind the Holodomor is Stalin, many wonder why he introduced the man-made famine of 1932-33. The first thing is that Stalin tried to introduced collecctivization to have a more control over the agriculture. Up untill those days, farmers owned land and sold how much of what they grew to whoever they wanted. Stalin did not like not having control over things.Ukraine was the most fertile zone of the USSR and in ukraine was a class of people called the “Kulaks” or rich farmers. Ukrainians had always been strong willed people and there had been rumors that they wanted to be a nation and presumably break off from the Soviet Union. Stalin was not going to have that happen. Introducing a man-made famine would spread terror and also facilitate the forced collectivization and de-kulakazation process.

Interview with widows on March 20th Wednesday, Mar 28 2007 

The lady we interviewd, Miss Lidia, had a very sad story to tell, she had spent most of her childhood in orphanages. In 1941, her father left her at an orphanage in the Cerkass region. She had lsot her documents during the Second World War but a lady at the orhapnage told her to always remember her name and her last name. She had been to 6 differnt orphanages during the war. In 1947 there was no food at the orphanage and she had to go to the fields to get frozen potatoes.She could see people dying on the streets. The Red cross came to help and she found out she had an eye disease. In 1949 she went to a Fabric College, since she had no documents, they made new documents for her with false information.Some documents say she was born in 1934 orhters 1935 or 1936.They basically rewrote her story. It must be horrible not to know one’s identity or even how old one is. She said that some Jewish children were at the oprhanage, their nationality was written on their paper( back in those days, being  Jew was a nationality). When the nazis came they took them and shot them. A famous Nazi figure, Goebel came in the town near her orphanage, the kids were kept away from him with watch dogs that firghtened them.Lidia could still hear their barking.

In 1992, her husband died of tuberculosis.Her daughter also had tuberculosis but was cured, only to find death in a car accident in 2004. Lidia had been working from the age of 15 to the age of 70, she worked at a factory. She is sad that no one would bury her, may ber her son-in-law or may be the factory she worked for.Either way it would be a sad ending for a person who has gone through so much.One man helps her, Roger McMurren…may be we still have a few good men left

“Doing the right thing starts with knowing the right thing” Monday, Mar 26 2007 

“Doing the right thing starts with knowing the right thing” This statement is a “common sense” statement that on the surface seems true. It suggests that we would do the right thing if we only had the right information. In reality this is only true in a limited number of specific cases. In mathematics for example, if you are given a problem in Euclidean geometry, you can find the measurement of an angle if you know the size of the other two angles and if you know that the sum of the angles in a triangle is 180º. However, this is not the only way to understand this problem. In some other geometries that might describe the real world as well as
Euclid’s, the sum of the three angles of a triangle can be either less or greater than 180º[1]. In higher mathematics our knowledge may not always lead to the “right” solution. In another example, knowing the right things (dates, events and other facts) will allow you to “do the right thing” in a school history test and get a good grade. Even so-called historical “facts” may not be true, however. Even if they are accurate, people still interpret them in different ways. For example, when we study the Cold War, the orthodox view of its origin blames the
USSR for the Cold War. The Revisionist view disagrees with this idea.[2] At the time both the U.S and
USSR thought they knew the “right thing” and acted upon their belief in their knowledge by doing what they thought was right. Today we are no longer sure that their beliefs and perceptions were true. We cannot be sure that they knew the right thing and we disagree on whether they did the right thing .We will never know for sure because we were not there and even if we had been our understanding would probably have been as biased and partial as theirs presumably was.

            In order to understand the problems with the statement “doing the right thing starts with knowing the right thing”, we need to analyze this sentence. Let us start with the first part: “Doing the right thing”. The “right” thing to do can be interpreted in different ways. It can mean effective in achieving our purpose, ethically correct, emotionally good or in line with our values. People have different value systems and different ethical systems.  Ethically they can judge “rightness” by the consequences of an action or by whether it is moral according to their religious beliefs or more secular principles.[3] People’s value systems may make them decide that one consequence is better than another.

 It is not easy to know what is the right thing to do even if we have all the knowledge and the facts. Some people think the dropping of the Atomic bomb on
Hiroshima and
Nagasaki was the right thing to do because it ended WW II. Other people believe that it was ethically not right to use atomic weapons when other means were available. In terms of values, the U.S presumably valued American lives more than Japanese lives. The Japanese probably would not agree.

What about “Knowing the right thing”? Knowing can be influenced by many factors. In almost all situations, we cannot be 100% sure that what we think we know is really true, nor that our knowledge is complete, nor that we are using relevant facts to decide what to do. Knowledge is biased by our culture, our emotions, our beliefs, and our observations. In natural sciences, for example, we are sure of certain things now but as things are discovered, scientific understanding changes and our beliefs do too. We used to “know” that HIV/AIDS was a disease of gay men and Africans, but now we know it can affect anyone. Our initial belief was probably influenced at least in part by negative biases toward gays men and black people. In another example, we cannot be 100% sure that we are in love even when our emotions and our minds tells us we are. Later on we break up and wonder why and how much we really liked the person.

We try to test the truth of what we “know” through rational and critical thinking and observation. We check if it makes sense, if it fits with previously accepted facts (coherence test). But what if those facts are wrong? We also check by seeing if lots of other people believe what we believe or if we can use our knowledge effectively to achieve certain goals (pragmatic test) or if we can practically verify facts ourselves (correspondence test)[4]. Even though this can still lead to false conclusions, if we keep testing we can often get closer to the truth.

We also often do not even know if we are thinking about all the things we need to know in order to “do the right thing”. Sometimes we only think of practical knowledge, when we should also be using emotional knowledge. For example, to produce a play, some people might think that all you need to know are the practical aspects such as the dialogues and the staging or how other directors have produced the play. However, directing involves more than practical thinking. A director should know how to anticipate the way the audience should feel. It requires a certain level of creativity and ability to see the emotional world behind the play in order to make the play come to life. Even if we know all that, every director follows his or her own vision. There is no right way to direct a play, only certain guidelines one can follow to develop one’s own style of directing.

Now let us looks at the connection between knowing and doing the right thing. Doing the “right” thing involves a process of decision-making. The sentence suggests that decision-making “starts with” knowing the right thing. But decisions are based on many things besides what we know: on fear or other emotions, on ambitions, on practical calculations of outcomes, by our expectations and views of the world. Knowing is important but these other factors may determine what we think we know and how we interpret this knowledge to make decisions. In reality, decision-making often starts with these other factors and then is justified by our knowledge[5]! For example, during the Cold War, the U.S and
USSR had different ideologies and thus different views on how the world should work and did work. With conflicting ideologies, they had different values and priorities and different ideas about the meaning of such words as “democracy”, which for the Russians meant “anti-fascism” and for the Americans meant free elections.[6] All these things influenced their perceptions of each other’s actions and intentions and influenced their decisions about how to respond. Responsible decision-making requires that we do our best to consider all these elements of knowledge, bias and possible errors in our beliefs before we act. By thinking critically about what we believe to be true and by being as honest as possible about why we really do the things we decide to do, we can make better decisions.

Let us examine how much responsible action depends on sound and critical thinking in safe sex. Each year, 20,000 young people are newly infected with HIV[7]. The opinion on the “right thing” to do in safe sex is divided. Some say teaching teenagers how to protect themselves with condoms and other contraceptives is the right thing to do. Some religious people believe that only encouraging abstinence and faithfulness is right. Efforts are made to encourage teens to avoid having sex or to only have protected sex. Many still choose not to have safe sex. Sometimes this is for emotional reasons: they might feel that a condom would be a barrier between them, or that their peers might make fun of them. Some do not believe in what they are told because they do not know anyone who has HIV. Some believe it won’t happen to them.  Others don’t know how to say “no”. In this case, doing the “right thing” does start with knowing that unprotected sex can lead to pregnancy, STDs or HIV/AIDS. Only knowing does not necessarly lead to safe sex, however. Teenagers and their educators need to think critically about all these factors.  We teenagers have to be honest with ourselves and evaluate our motivations and also our responsibility toward others. Our educators need to help us by giving us all the information we need to be able to act responsibly.

Doing the right thing is the result of a complex process influenced by many factors. Knowledge sure is an important step but it also has its limitations. The responsible thing to do is not the same for everyone.  We all have our own values, beliefs, emotions that make it hard to always know which is the responsible thing to do.  Critical thinking is needed even though it might not always lead to the right thing to do. You have to keep an open mind and always be ready to test your knowledge and be ready to admit you might be wrong[8]. You have to look into your own heart and not just at outside facts.  You also have to recognize that there might be more than one “right thing” to do.

 

 

 

Bibliography:·        Terry Morris and Derrick Murphy; “
Europe 1870-1991”, HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd,
London, 2000
 

·        Table from Mario F. Traviola, Mathematics and the Modern world. Benjamin/Cummings:
MenloPk, Calif., 1978. 510 Tri 1978
 

 

·        Olen, Jeffrey, Persons and their World, an Introduction to Philosophy, McGraw-hill Companies, 1983 

·        Class handout:  Ethics: Objective or Subjective? 

·        Class Handout on Karl Popper 

 

Internet Sources 

·        Advocates for Youth website <http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/hivsti.htm> 

 

·        Charles F. Penacchio, ”The East German Communist and the Origins of the Berlin Blockade Crisis, East European Quaterly, Vol.29, no 3(fall 1995)<http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/penna.htm> 

 



[1] Table from Mario F. Traviola, Mathematics and the Modern world

[2] Morris and Murphy, p.393-393

[3] Class handout:  Ethics: Objective or Subjective?

[4]Olen, Jeffrey, pp 230-232 

[5] Class Handout on Karl Popper, how scientists use creativity to “discover” something new and then use previously accepted facts to prove it.

[6] http:/www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/penna.htm

[7] http://www.advocatesforyouth.org/hivsti.htm

[8] Class Handout on Karl Popper, his theory of “falsification” as a means to prove your point

What makes a good man Thursday, Mar 22 2007 

I found myself thinking a lot lately… I’ve been wandering around in a pensive almsot zombie-like state. I asked myself, “What makes a good man?” Is it his intentions, his purity of heart, his actions, what he would do???  We all know names of great men, Mahatma Ghandi and such. They are often models to us but some great men walk among us without recognition. I have lost faith in human nature….we are running short of good men. The church was the last pillar of faith I had and when priests molest little boys where does that live the world? Do we hear any good news on TV or the radio? All we hear about is people dying, things being reduced to smithereens. It is depressing to hear bad news all the time. Are these the signs of the Apocalypse, the end of the world??? We always remember great men for the things they have done, some of us are heroes just by standing alive today. I do not believe that men are good, if there had ever been a time where men were good, then that time is way gone. If any of you can tell me what makes a good man, then please tell me…

Was the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 Genocide? Tuesday, Mar 20 2007 

Bilinsky Yaroslav. “Was the Ukrainian Famine of 1932-33 genocide?”.Journal of Genocide Research (1999)

This article attempts to answer the question in its title.It takes certain extracts from other books to back its points.Most people who know a little bit about history know that it  was Stalin who ordered the famine for several reasons.First he wanted to introduce forced collectivization, the Ukrainian people wanted to be anation, Stalin would not have that. Most ukrainians were farmer, a section of them called the Kulaks( rich farmers) were the ones who opposed Stalin the most. The famine was a part in the process of de-kulakazation of Ukraine. When people are starved to death, it is less likely that they would think about independence. Stalin sent a message of terror, it seems he targeted the most fertile zones of Ukraine also known as the ‘fertile Chernozem belt”. It is hard for historians to really know what happened but interviews with survivors are the closest thing to the truth.

A famine is an event that happens due to natural events, this “famine” of 1932-33 was man-made, some men took food away from others in the intention of letting then die.That is a genocide, it is just as if millions of people were shot, at least they would die right away and not commit horrible things like eating their own children or relatives.

Logic and Fallacies Tuesday, Mar 13 2007 

Logic is something we are taught very young, our parents teach us good and evil through reasoning. Fallacies are everywhere in our world, whether that is in marketing, commercials even in church. In high school bandwagon is very common, the” every one does it” syndrome.For those who want to fit in comformity is a must. Fallacies are also present in racism, it becomes a us versus them situation, some people think that just becasue a few African Americans are gang members, then all African American are gansters, or that all of them talk in slang. Problems with logic come from the way we are raised and the mentality of the peopel that surround us. I was on the debate team in my high school and once I nearly lost an argument because my opponent had found a piece of information that crushed my argument ( it was a debate about stem-cell research, I was for, her against). Nonethe less, I won because I used a teachnique called “leading the witness”, I asked her questions that made her agree with me without going against her, I even made her doubt her partner’s views. I know it wasn’t fair play but I wanted to win. When we are out in society, most of us use one of these fallacies at least once a day. It is only in court or in an intelectual debate that avoiding them really matters.

Soviet Ace Thursday, Mar 8 2007 

One Soviet Ace of the 1930s was Evgeny Stepanov. He was born in 1911 in Moscow and graduated as a metalworker in 1929. He then became interested in aviation, in those times, the USSR was eager to build a strong air force. After taking flying lessons, he was posted as a heavy-bomber pilot but his dream was to be a dogfighter. He insisted and was eventually posted as a fighter pilot. He flew the Polikarpov I-15 aircraft in 1937 during the conflicts in Spain. Soviet pilots were often assigned spanish names to conceal their identity but Stepanov and the other soviet pilots who served with him kept their own Christian names and surnames. He flew many successful missions until he was shot down in 1938 and became a POW( Prisoner of War) but was eventually excahnged for German POWs after seven months of captivity. Unlike many other pilots who faced Stalin’s purges in 1937-1938, Stepanov was not prosecuted or sent to the goulags. Instead he was sent to Mongolia in 1939 to fight Japanese fighters. He was impressed by the tenacity of Japanese airmen. Those days were stressfull, the pilots had very  little sleep and were always ready for action. He was awarded the Gold Star and became head of Moscow’s pilot training department.

Interview with World War II Russian Pilot Evgeny Stepanov by Jon Guttman. http://www.historynet.com/magazines/aviation_history/3027006.html. Accessed 7th March 2007.

One part of this aviator’s history that really interested me was about how he espaced the purges. I studied them in High school, how Stalin sent millions to the Goulags or to their Death. It was a way of destroying any possible opposition and instill fear among the masses. To him one death was a tragedy, a million just statistics.

Summary Reaction on the article in Reader’s Digest Tuesday, Mar 6 2007 

The article I have chosen is from the magazine Reader’s Digest of March 2000 by Hal Karp, page 76-82.

The article deplore the lack of background check for prospective teachers, which allows people with criminal records or past complaints to get jobs at schools. Most of the time the main complaints are against teachers or other staff members that do or try to have sex with students. In some cases, people who are fired for these types of behavior can get another job in another state. Back then, 9 states did not use checks for teachers. Many incidents happened, from sodomy to murder.  In those days the list of sexual predators was not implemented yet, however, now sites like Family Watchdog (http://www.familywatchdog.us/aboutus.aspallow parents to find is any sexual predators are in their areas. I find this problem disgusting, children are vulnerable, they can easily be intimidated, afraid to say a thing and if the people that teach them in their young days perverts it can cause severe traumatic damage.

The main flaw in the system was the lack of a way for schools to know about complaints, sometimes the offender would not be taken to court but children would complain. Nowadays this problem is taken more seriously but it can also lead to overexaggeration sometimes.Just as in any mass crisis, people panic. Sexual harassment cannot really be defined. Is it touching, saying something inappropriate, stalking? Parents have to talk to their children and let them now what can and cannot be done to them by other people.

The freedom to live Wednesday, Feb 28 2007 

A freedom that comes before all freedoms is the freedom to live. One canot talk , express him/herself or worship if he/she is not alive.

Too long have we argued about freedom of this and freedom of that when we sometimes deny babies the right to live by allowing people the freedom to abort. One’s freedom stops when another’s freedom starts. In the ase of abortion, if a person is old enough to have sex then he/she should be old enough to take responsibilities, rape and incest are exeptions or if the baby is diformed and that the parents cannot raise him/her.

Too long have we complained about wanting better lives when some of our fellow humans die every day from basic things like hunger and thirst.

We are all free to live and we all have the duty to keep each other alive. Our minds should never be corrupted by greed.As we all well know, money makes the world go round but it is also what denies some of us the right and freedom to live. The truth is that no one is free while others are oppressed. The freedom to live is often forgotten when it is the sole foundation of other freedoms.

I wanted to emphasize on that freedom to go back to the street children of ukraine. These yound people  go to the streets for several reasons, usually children living in residential child-care institutions, orphanages are more likely to ” go wrong”. Out on the streets, they have to face different dangers, drugs, violence, deprivation. They become outcasts, living wihtin our society but not really. According to statistics, ukraine has approximately 47 million people, 10 million are under he age of 18 and out of these, 62,000 children are inresidential child-care institutions.(Teltschik, Anja.Children and young people living or working on the streets:The missing face of the HIV epidemic in Ukraine. UNICEF, 2006)

They come from differnt parts of Ukraine and even other countries, they move from town to twon, country to country looking for work or better opportunities. They are often not well educated and denied health care which makes them vulnerable to irresponsible behavior and vulnerable to diseases like HIV, STDs. It is hard to help them becasue they are higly mobile, they are like shadows. In kiev, one can see them on Maidan, Kreschatik, Besarabska. Some beg, other steal. In Kiev alone, it is estimated that 12,000 children are in the streets( Teltschik,Anja. Children and young people living or working on the strets:The missing face of the HIV epidemic in Ukraine. UNICEF,2006.)

When I walk down town, I see war veterans, babushis, mothers holding their babies begging. I could imagine myself at their place, sitting on the street in the cold, begging for a coin or two, having to withstand the looks of disgust of people. They look and turn their eyes away as if my cries of hunger and suffering meant nothing. It shatters my hopes in human kind. It is no wonder these people drink, do drugs and have irresponsible sexual behavior. Those things can make them forget the fight that’s out there for a short while.

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