Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard? | Jon Jandai | TEDxDoiSuthep

There is one phrase that I have always wanted to say to everyone in my life. That phrase is "Life is easy." It's so easy and fun. I never thought like that before. When I was in Bangkok, I felt like life is very hard, very complicated. I was born in a poor village on the Northeastern of Thailand And when I was a kid, everything was fun and easy, but when the TV came, many people came to the village, they said, "You are poor, you need to chase success in your life. You need to go to Bangkok to pursue success in your life." So I felt bad, I felt poor. So I needed to go to Bangkok. When I went to Bangkok, it was not very fun. You need to learn, study a lot and work very hard, and then you can get success. I worked very hard, eight hours per day at least, but all I could eat was just a bowl of noodles per meal, or some Tama dish of fried rice or something like that. And where I stayed was very bad, a small room where a lot of people slept.

It was very hot. I started to question a lot. When I work hard, why is my life so hard? It must be something wrong, because I produce a lot of things, but I cannot get enough. And I tried to learn, I tried to study. I tried to study in the university. It's very hard to learn in university, because it's very boring. (Laughter) And when I looked at subjects in the university, in every faculty, most of them had destructive knowledge. There's no productive knowledge in university for me. If you learn to be an architect or engineer, that means you ruin more. The more these people work, the mountain will be destroyed more. And a good land in Chao Praya Basin will be covered with concrete more and more. We destroy more. If we go to agriculture faculty or something like that, that means we learn how to poison, to poison the land, the water, and learn to destroy everything. I feel like everything we do is so complicated, so hard.

We just make everything hard. Life was so hard and I felt disappointed. I started to think about, why did I have to be in Bangkok? I thought about when I was a kid, nobody worked eight hours per day, everybody worked two hours, two months a year, planting rice one month and harvesting the rice another month. The rest is free time, ten months of free time. That's why people have so many festivals in Thailand, every month they have festival. (Laughter) Because they have so much free time. And then in the daytime, everyone even takes a nap. Even now in Laos, go to Laos if you can, people take a nap after lunch. And after they wake up, they just gossip, how's your son-in-law, how's your wife, daughter-in-law. People have a lot of time, but because they have a lot of time, they have time to be with themselves. And when they have time to be with themselves, they have time to understand themselves. When they understand themselves, they can see what they want in their life.

So, many people see that they want happiness, they want love, they want to enjoy their life. So, people see a lot of beauty in their life, so they express that beauty in many ways. Some people by carving the handle of their knife, very beautiful, they weave the baskets very nicely. But, now, nobody does that. Nobody can do something like that. People use plastic everywhere. So, I feel like it's something wrong in there, I cannot live this way I'm living. So, I decided to quit University, and went back home. When I went back home, I started to live like I remember, like when I was a kid. I started to work two months a year. I got four tons of rice. And the whole family, six people, we eat less than half a ton per year. So we can sell some rice. I took two ponds, two fish ponds. We have fish to eat all year round. And I started a small garden.

Less than half an acre. And I spend 15 minutes per day to take care of the garden. I have more than 30 varieties of vegetables in the garden. So, six people cannot eat all of it. We have a surplus to sell in the market. We can make some income, too. So, I feel like, it's easy, why did I have to be in Bangkok for seven years, working hard and then not have enough to eat, but here, only two months a year and 15 minutes per day I can feed six people. That's easy. And before I thought that stupid people like me who never got a good grade at school, cannot have a house. Because people who are cleverer than me, who are number one in the class every year, they get a good job, but they need to work more than 30 years to have a house. But me, who cannot finish university, how could I have a house? Hopeless for people who have low education, like me.

But, then I started to do earthly building, it's so easy. I spend two hours per day, from 5 o'clock in the morning, until 7 o'clock in the morning, two hours per day. And in three months, I got a house. And another friend who's the most clever in the class, he spent three months to build his house, too. But, he had to be in debt. He had to pay for his debt for 30 years. So, compared to him, I have 29 years and 10 months of free time. (Laughter) So, I feel that life is so easy. I never thought I could build a house as easy as that. And I keep building a house every year, at least one house every year. Now, I have no money, but I have many houses. (Laughter) My problem is in which house I will sleep tonight. (Laughter) So, a house is not a problem, anybody can build a house.

The kids, 13 years old, at the school, they make bricks together, they make a house. After one month, they have a library. The kids can make a house, a very old nun can build a hut for herself. Many people can build a house. So, it's easy. If you don't believe me, try it. If somebody wants to have a house. And then, the next thing is clothing. I felt like I'm poor, like I'm not handsome. I tried to dress like somebody else, like a movie star. To make myself look good, look better. I spent one month to save money to buy a pair of jeans. When I wore them, I turned left, I turned right, looked in the mirror. Every time I look, I am the same person. The most expensive pants cannot change my life. I felt like I'm so crazy, why did I have to buy them? Spend one month to have a pair of pants. It doesn't change me. I started to think more about that. Why do we need to follow fashion? Because, when we follow fashion, we never catch up with it, because we follow it.

So, don't follow it, just stay here. (Laughter) Use what you have. So, after that, until now, 20 years, I have never bought any clothes. All the clothes I have are leftovers from people. When people come to visit me, and when they leave, they leave a lot of clothes there. So, I have tons of clothes now. (Laughter) And when people see me wear very old clothes, they give me more clothes. (Laughter) So, my problem is, I need to give clothes to people very often. (Laughter) So, it's so easy. And when I stopped buying clothes, I felt like, it's not only clothes, it's about something else in my life, What I learned is that when I buy something, and I think about, I buy it because I like it, or I buy it because I need it. So, if I buy it because I like it, that means I'm wrong. So, I feel more free when I think like this. And the last thing is, when I get sick, what will I do? I really worried in the beginning, because then I had no money.

But, I started to contemplate more. Normally, sickness is a normal thing, it's not a bad thing. Sickness is something to remind us that we did something wrong in our lives, that's why we got sick. So, when I get sick, I need to stop and come back to myself. And think about it, what I did was wrong. So, I learned how to use water to heal myself, how to use earth to heal myself, I learned how to use basic knowledge to heal myself. So, now that I rely on myself in these four things, I feel like life is very easy, I feel something like freedom, I feel free. I feel like I don't worry about anything much, I have less fear, I can do whatever I want in my life. Before, I had a lot of fear, I could not do anything. But, now I feel very free, like I'm a unique person on this Earth, nobody like me, I don't need to make myself like anybody else. I'm the number one.

So, things like this make it easy, very light. And, after that, I started to think about that when I was in Bangkok, I felt very dark in my life. I started to think that many people maybe thought like me at the time. So, we started a place called "Pun Pun" in Chiang Mai. The main aim is just saving seed. To collect seed, because seed is food, food is life. If there is no seed, no life. No seed, no freedom. No seed, no happiness. Because your life depends on somebody else. Because you have no food. So, it's very important to save seed. That's why we focus on saving seed. That's the main thing in Pun Pun. And the second thing is it is the learning center. We want to have a center for ourselves to learn, learn how to make life easy. Because we were taught to make life complicated and hard all the time. How can we make it easy? It's easy, but we don't know how to make it easy anymore. Because we always make it complicated and now, we start to learn, and learn to be together.

Because, we were taught to disconnect ourselves from everything else, to be independent, so we can rely on the money only. We don't need to rely on each other. But now, to be happy, we need to come back, to connect to ourselves again, to connect to other people, to connect our mind and body together again. So, we can be happy. Life is easy. And from beginning until now, what I learned is the four basic needs: food, house, clothes and medicine must be cheap and easy for everybody, that's the civilization. But, if you make these four things hard and very hard for many people to get, that's uncivilized. So, now when we look at everywhere around us, everything is so hard to get. I feel like now is the most uncivilized era of humans on this Earth. We have so many people who finish university, have so many universities on the Earth, have so many clever people on this Earth. But, life is harder and harder. We make it hard for whom? We work hard for whom right now? I feel like it's wrong, it's not normal.

So, I just want to come back to normal. To be a normal person, to be equal to animals. The birds make a nest in one or two days. The rats dig a hole in one night. But, the clever humans like us spend 30 years to have a house, and many people can't believe that they can have a house in this life. So, that's wrong. Why do we destroy our spirit, why do we destroy our ability that much? So, I feel that it's enough for me, to live in the normal way, in the abnormal way. So, now I try to be normal. But, people look at me as the abnormal one. (Laughter) A crazy person. But, I don't care, because it's not my fault. It's their fault, they think like that. So, my life is easy and light now. That's enough for me. People can think whatever they want. I cannot manage anything outside myself. What I can do is change my mind, manage my mind. Now, my mind is light and easy, that's enough. If anybody wants to have a choice, you can have a choice.

The choice to be easy or to be hard, it depends on you. Thank you. (Applause).

Paris climate agreement clears final hurdle to implementation

One of the major issues at the United Nations this week is tackling climate change. The landmark Paris climate agreement passed the final hurdle to implementation,… coinciding with a new report on countering climate hazards. Oh Soo-young reports. The Paris climate agreement will enter into force on November 4th,… becoming the first universal treaty on combating climate change. The UN confirmed on Wednesday that the landmark deal will be ratified by the European Union, Canada and Nepal,… surpassing the threshold of countries accounting for 55 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions needed for the treaty to take effect. The main goal of the agreement is to keep the rise of global warming to below two degrees Celsius… while trying to limit the figure to one-point-five degrees Celsius. It also aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to carbon reduction goals specified by each member state.

The deal was reached in December last year by 195 parties to the UN conference on climate change. Since then, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has pushed for its rapid implementation as a crucial part of the UN's Sustainable Development Goals,… which aim to improve lives across the world through positive changes in health, education, income and the environment. In a new report released Monday, the UN said more than four-point-two billion people have been affected by weather-related disasters in the last two decades. Developing countries incur the biggest losses,… with hurricanes, drought and other climate hazards resulting in environmental and socioeconomic consequences,… and knocking off about 5 percent of GDP. The report stresses the need for governments to produce more transformative policies. “Transformative policies are the kind of policies that help build their resiliencehelp , close inequality gaps, provide access to financial services, to diversification of livelihoods, quality education, health and social security.

” The next climate conference will be held in Morocco on November 7th,… when countries will report on their emissions reduction goals and national climate plans. Oh Soo-young, Arirang News..

UN report: Trump’s election may hurt Paris Climate Agreement

The election of a U.S. president who has called global warming a "hoax" alarmed environmentalists and climate scientists raising questions about whether America, once again, would pull out of an international climate deal. UN Up and Close this week: Our Oh Sooyoung. Donald's Trump election as the next U.S. president may thwart global efforts to effectively tackle climate change. That's what many climate experts fear could happen, based on Trump's outspoken opposition to the Paris Climate Agreement which entered into force last Friday. After 20 years of negotiations, the landmark deal was reached in December of last year by more than 190 countries which, for the first time in history, agreed to legally-binding limits on the rise of global temperature — no more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. The deal also aims to cut greenhouse gas emissions as well as help developing countries tackle the severe impacts of climate change by mobilizing funds from higher-income governments. While President Obama has made tackling climate change one of his key priorities and part of his presidential legacy, President-elect Trump has on multiple occasions dismissed the concept of global warming as a hoax and pledged in May to cancel the Paris Agreement.

Under the accord, the U.S. has pledged to reduce emissions up to 28 percent by 2025 and contribute three billion U.S. dollars to the Green Climate Fund which will support clean energy systems and climate protection measures for developing countries. While the U.S. cannot pull out of the Paris Agreement for at least four years,… there are no sanctions or repercussions if it chooses to neglect its commitments in the meantime. "Between the U.S. and China, now climate change has been elevated into not only an environmental issue but a geopolitical one between the most important two countries in the world. We urge the next U.S. president to take that into consideration." The UN's annual climate conference began on Tuesday in Morocco,… gathering representatives from nearly 200 countries to discuss specific ways to implement the Paris Agreement. But with the possibility of the world's second largest carbon emitter backing out of its commitments, it remains uncertain whether the world will see meaningful progress on fighting climate change.

Oh Soo-young, Arirang News..

UN chief urges leaders to address climate change and sustainable development in Davos

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon was another distinguished guest attending the World Economic Forum in Davos to speak on some of the most pressing issues facing the global community. He said global efforts to tackle climate change issue should go hand-in-hand with pursuing sustainable development. Park Ji-won shares with us the UN chief's message. The UN chief urged world leaders to join global efforts to address the climate change issue,… by ratifying a historical agreement reached in Paris in December,… aimed at effectively limiting green house gas emissions. "Governments must quickly ratify the Paris Agreement, so that it can be effective." He also called for sufficient financing for developing countries to promote less dependency on fossil fuels,… and the rapid implementation of actions at every possible level. The use of market mechanisms to spur the growth of carbon pricing being one of the actions. "The Paris Agreement gives the private sector an unprecedented opportunity to create clean energy and climate resilient economies. Governments have agreed on transparent rules to monitor progress, enhance accountability and foster climate market ambition." Ban stressed that such global efforts to overcome climate change must coincide with efforts to achieve sustainable development goals,.

… or SDGs. SDGs make up a set of 17 ambitious goals such as ending poverty and zero hunger,… that were agreed upon by more than 190 countries in September last year. The UN Secretary General said,… the global community should now move towards development models that are both sustainable and protect against climate change. The UN chief reiterated the importance of sustainable development goals at another open forum session in Davos. Ban called for the need to end poverty and create sustainable food systems,… through a successful implementation of the 17 goals,… an initiative that aims to eliminate hunger within 15 years,…and leave no one behind. Park Ji-won, Arirang News..

The danger of a single story | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

I'm a storyteller. And I would like to tell you a few personal stories about what I like to call "the danger of the single story." I grew up on a university campus in eastern Nigeria. My mother says that I started reading at the age of two, although I think four is probably close to the truth. So I was an early reader, and what I read were British and American children's books. I was also an early writer, and when I began to write, at about the age of seven, stories in pencil with crayon illustrations that my poor mother was obligated to read, I wrote exactly the kinds of stories I was reading: All my characters were white and blue-eyed, they played in the snow, they ate apples, (Laughter) and they talked a lot about the weather, how lovely it was that the sun had come out. (Laughter) Now, this despite the fact that I lived in Nigeria. I had never been outside Nigeria.

We didn't have snow, we ate mangoes, and we never talked about the weather, because there was no need to. My characters also drank a lot of ginger beer, because the characters in the British books I read drank ginger beer. Never mind that I had no idea what ginger beer was. (Laughter) And for many years afterwards, I would have a desperate desire to taste ginger beer. But that is another story. What this demonstrates, I think, is how impressionable and vulnerable we are in the face of a story, particularly as children. Because all I had read were books in which characters were foreign, I had become convinced that books by their very nature had to have foreigners in them and had to be about things with which I could not personally identify. Now, things changed when I discovered African books. There weren't many of them available, and they weren't quite as easy to find as the foreign books. But because of writers like Chinua Achebe and Camara Laye, I went through a mental shift in my perception of literature. I realized that people like me, girls with skin the color of chocolate, whose kinky hair could not form ponytails, could also exist in literature.

I started to write about things I recognized. Now, I loved those American and British books I read. They stirred my imagination. They opened up new worlds for me. But the unintended consequence was that I did not know that people like me could exist in literature. So what the discovery of African writers did for me was this: It saved me from having a single story of what books are. I come from a conventional, middle-class Nigerian family. My father was a professor. My mother was an administrator. And so we had, as was the norm, live-in domestic help, who would often come from nearby rural villages. So, the year I turned eight, we got a new house boy. His name was Fide. The only thing my mother told us about him was that his family was very poor. My mother sent yams and rice, and our old clothes, to his family. And when I didn't finish my dinner, my mother would say, "Finish your food! Don't you know? People like Fide's family have nothing." So I felt enormous pity for Fide's family.

Then one Saturday, we went to his village to visit, and his mother showed us a beautifully patterned basket made of dyed raffia that his brother had made. I was startled. It had not occurred to me that anybody in his family could actually make something. All I had heard about them was how poor they were, so that it had become impossible for me to see them as anything else but poor. Their poverty was my single story of them. Years later, I thought about this when I left Nigeria to go to university in the United States. I was 19. My American roommate was shocked by me. She asked where I had learned to speak English so well, and was confused when I said that Nigeria happened to have English as its official language. She asked if she could listen to what she called my "tribal music," and was consequently very disappointed when I produced my tape of Mariah Carey. (Laughter) She assumed that I did not know how to use a stove. What struck me was this: She had felt sorry for me even before she saw me.

Her default position toward me, as an African, was a kind of patronizing, well-meaning pity. My roommate had a single story of Africa: a single story of catastrophe. In this single story, there was no possibility of Africans being similar to her in any way, no possibility of feelings more complex than pity, no possibility of a connection as human equals. I must say that before I went to the U.S., I didn't consciously identify as African. But in the U.S., whenever Africa came up, people turned to me. Never mind that I knew nothing about places like Namibia. But I did come to embrace this new identity, and in many ways I think of myself now as African. Although I still get quite irritable when Africa is referred to as a country, the most recent example being my otherwise wonderful flight from Lagos two days ago, in which there was an announcement on the Virgin flight about the charity work in "India, Africa and other countries." (Laughter) So, after I had spent some years in the U.S. as an African, I began to understand my roommate's response to me. If I had not grown up in Nigeria, and if all I knew about Africa were from popular images, I too would think that Africa was a place of beautiful landscapes, beautiful animals, and incomprehensible people, fighting senseless wars, dying of poverty and AIDS, unable to speak for themselves and waiting to be saved by a kind, white foreigner.

I would see Africans in the same way that I, as a child, had seen Fide's family. This single story of Africa ultimately comes, I think, from Western literature. Now, here is a quote from the writing of a London merchant called John Lok, who sailed to west Africa in 1561 and kept a fascinating account of his voyage. After referring to the black Africans as "beasts who have no houses," he writes, "They are also people without heads, having their mouth and eyes in their breasts." Now, I've laughed every time I've read this. And one must admire the imagination of John Lok. But what is important about his writing is that it represents the beginning of a tradition of telling African stories in the West: A tradition of Sub-Saharan Africa as a place of negatives, of difference, of darkness, of people who, in the words of the wonderful poet Rudyard Kipling, are "half devil, half child.

" And so, I began to realize that my American roommate must have throughout her life seen and heard different versions of this single story, as had a professor, who once told me that my novel was not "authentically African." Now, I was quite willing to contend that there were a number of things wrong with the novel, that it had failed in a number of places, but I had not quite imagined that it had failed at achieving something called African authenticity. In fact, I did not know what African authenticity was. The professor told me that my characters were too much like him, an educated and middle-class man. My characters drove cars. They were not starving. Therefore they were not authentically African. But I must quickly add that I too am just as guilty in the question of the single story.

A few years ago, I visited Mexico from the U.S. The political climate in the U.S. at the time was tense, and there were debates going on about immigration. And, as often happens in America, immigration became synonymous with Mexicans. There were endless stories of Mexicans as people who were fleecing the healthcare system, sneaking across the border, being arrested at the border, that sort of thing. I remember walking around on my first day in Guadalajara, watching the people going to work, rolling up tortillas in the marketplace, smoking, laughing. I remember first feeling slight surprise. And then, I was overwhelmed with shame. I realized that I had been so immersed in the media coverage of Mexicans that they had become one thing in my mind, the abject immigrant. I had bought into the single story of Mexicans and I could not have been more ashamed of myself. So that is how to create a single story, show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again, and that is what they become.

It is impossible to talk about the single story without talking about power. There is a word, an Igbo word, that I think about whenever I think about the power structures of the world, and it is "nkali." It's a noun that loosely translates to "to be greater than another." Like our economic and political worlds, stories too are defined by the principle of nkali: How they are told, who tells them, when they're told, how many stories are told, are really dependent on power. Power is the ability not just to tell the story of another person, but to make it the definitive story of that person. The Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti writes that if you want to dispossess a people, the simplest way to do it is to tell their story and to start with, "secondly." Start the story with the arrows of the Native Americans, and not with the arrival of the British, and you have an entirely different story. Start the story with the failure of the African state, and not with the colonial creation of the African state, and you have an entirely different story. I recently spoke at a university where a student told me that it was such a shame that Nigerian men were physical abusers like the father character in my novel.

I told him that I had just read a novel called "American Psycho" — (Laughter) — and that it was such a shame that young Americans were serial murderers. (Laughter) (Applause) Now, obviously I said this in a fit of mild irritation. (Laughter) But it would never have occurred to me to think that just because I had read a novel in which a character was a serial killer that he was somehow representative of all Americans. This is not because I am a better person than that student, but because of America's cultural and economic power, I had many stories of America. I had read Tyler and Updike and Steinbeck and Gaitskill. I did not have a single story of America. When I learned, some years ago, that writers were expected to have had really unhappy childhoods to be successful, I began to think about how I could invent horrible things my parents had done to me. (Laughter) But the truth is that I had a very happy childhood, full of laughter and love, in a very close-knit family.

But I also had grandfathers who died in refugee camps. My cousin Polle died because he could not get adequate healthcare. One of my closest friends, Okoloma, died in a plane crash because our fire trucks did not have water. I grew up under repressive military governments that devalued education, so that sometimes, my parents were not paid their salaries. And so, as a child, I saw jam disappear from the breakfast table, then margarine disappeared, then bread became too expensive, then milk became rationed. And most of all, a kind of normalized political fear invaded our lives. All of these stories make me who I am. But to insist on only these negative stories is to flatten my experience and to overlook the many other stories that formed me.

The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story. Of course, Africa is a continent full of catastrophes: There are immense ones, such as the horrific rapes in Congo and depressing ones, such as the fact that 5,000 people apply for one job vacancy in Nigeria. But there are other stories that are not about catastrophe, and it is very important, it is just as important, to talk about them. I've always felt that it is impossible to engage properly with a place or a person without engaging with all of the stories of that place and that person. The consequence of the single story is this: It robs people of dignity. It makes our recognition of our equal humanity difficult. It emphasizes how we are different rather than how we are similar. So what if before my Mexican trip, I had followed the immigration debate from both sides, the U.

S. and the Mexican? What if my mother had told us that Fide's family was poor and hardworking? What if we had an African television network that broadcast diverse African stories all over the world? What the Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe calls "a balance of stories." What if my roommate knew about my Nigerian publisher, Muhtar Bakare, a remarkable man who left his job in a bank to follow his dream and start a publishing house? Now, the conventional wisdom was that Nigerians don't read literature. He disagreed. He felt that people who could read, would read, if you made literature affordable and available to them. Shortly after he published my first novel, I went to a TV station in Lagos to do an interview, and a woman who worked there as a messenger came up to me and said, "I really liked your novel. I didn't like the ending.

Now, you must write a sequel, and this is what will happen …" (Laughter) And she went on to tell me what to write in the sequel. I was not only charmed, I was very moved. Here was a woman, part of the ordinary masses of Nigerians, who were not supposed to be readers. She had not only read the book, but she had taken ownership of it and felt justified in telling me what to write in the sequel. Now, what if my roommate knew about my friend Funmi Iyanda, a fearless woman who hosts a TV show in Lagos, and is determined to tell the stories that we prefer to forget? What if my roommate knew about the heart procedure that was performed in the Lagos hospital last week? What if my roommate knew about contemporary Nigerian music, talented people singing in English and Pidgin, and Igbo and Yoruba and Ijo, mixing influences from Jay-Z to Fela to Bob Marley to their grandfathers. What if my roommate knew about the female lawyer who recently went to court in Nigeria to challenge a ridiculous law that required women to get their husband's consent before renewing their passports? What if my roommate knew about Nollywood, full of innovative people making films despite great technical odds, films so popular that they really are the best example of Nigerians consuming what they produce? What if my roommate knew about my wonderfully ambitious hair braider, who has just started her own business selling hair extensions? Or about the millions of other Nigerians who start businesses and sometimes fail, but continue to nurse ambition? Every time I am home I am confronted with the usual sources of irritation for most Nigerians: our failed infrastructure, our failed government, but also by the incredible resilience of people who thrive despite the government, rather than because of it.

I teach writing workshops in Lagos every summer, and it is amazing to me how many people apply, how many people are eager to write, to tell stories. My Nigerian publisher and I have just started a non-profit called Farafina Trust, and we have big dreams of building libraries and refurbishing libraries that already exist and providing books for state schools that don't have anything in their libraries, and also of organizing lots and lots of workshops, in reading and writing, for all the people who are eager to tell our many stories. Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower and to humanize. Stories can break the dignity of a people, but stories can also repair that broken dignity. The American writer Alice Walker wrote this about her Southern relatives who had moved to the North.

She introduced them to a book about the Southern life that they had left behind. "They sat around, reading the book themselves, listening to me read the book, and a kind of paradise was regained." I would like to end with this thought: That when we reject the single story, when we realize that there is never a single story about any place, we regain a kind of paradise. Thank you. (Applause).

Korea severely hit by heavy rain, experts suggest impact of climate change and La Nina phenomenon

Although we are used to experiencing the monsoon season every year,… some experts suggest climate change has modified the patterns of rain, making it more difficult to predict. On top of that, the weather phenomenon known as La Nina is expected to arrive soon, bringing more rain to Asia. Here's Lee Ji-won with our News feature tonight. "A seasonal monsoon has wet most part of the nation for the past few days,… with several parts of the peninsula already seeing downpours,… and heavy rain alerts have been issued across most of the nation. In Seoul, it's been raining so much that the water level here at the Jamsu Bridge has topped over 6-point-2 meters, or more than three times the normal level, enough to shut it down." The low-level bridge stands at 2-meters above the river, but with the recent heavy rainfall..

. parts of the bridge and the Banpo Hangang Park have been flooded, forcing authorities to restrict the area due to safety concerns. The monsoon season, or "jangma" in Korean, kicked off last week with precipitation hitting the southern regions of the country, and expanding to the upper regions including Seoul by Monday. Daejeon, located in the center of Korea, has already received more than 268-millimeters of precipitation. Monsoon rain normally arrived in late June and ended around the first weeks of August. But in recent years, the rainy season has become unpredictable. "In the past, precipitation could be somewhat predicted. But not anymore. Even after the monsoon season ends, heavy showers dominate the forecast,… and severe rain storms have become much more frequent with sporadic, localized downpours. And numerous climate experts say this as a result of climate change.

" The expert says as climate change increases the average temperature, the amount of evaporation from land and different bodies of water increases, leading to faster condensation and eventually, more frequent precipitation. And this year, the rainfall is expected to be even more severe due to La Nina weather phenomenon. La Nina occurs when strong trade winds cause warm sea water to move to the west Pacific Ocean, lowering the temperature in the east Pacific. La Nina then causes draught in South America, while it brings severe rain to Asia. "When La Nina phenomenon is triggered, one effect on Korea is that there is less precipitation in the beginning of the summer but more towards the end. This year, the average amount of precipitation in July is expected to be less than average,…

whereas precipitation in August and September is expected to be similar or more than the amount in average years. With the monsoon pattern becoming more random and difficult to predict, experts call for measures to minimize the damage and impact of these abnormal weather conditions. "As the monsoon patterns change, weather forecasting becomes more difficult, which means there is less time to prepare against severe weather conditions. Thus we need to come up with different safety standards, especially when building structures." With the severe rain already taking a toll across the country, expert warns that both short and long-term preparations are needed, while the range of safety regulations against heavy downpours during the monsoon season needs to be widened. Lee Ji-won, Arirang News..

From Japan to the World: Seiichi Kondo at TEDxKyoto 2013

This year has been a significant year for me. I had a very sad event and very wonderful news. The sad event is that my father passed away. The wonderful-happy event is that Mt. Fuji was inscribed on the UNESCO's World Heritage list. My father was brought up in the city of Numazu in Shizuoka prefecture, which is the host to Mt. Fuji. And he spent all his school days worshiping and admiring Mt. Fuji. So it is quite natural that he had been dreaming of the day when Mt. Fuji is designated as a World Heritage. He resigned many years ago and moved to Atami, another city in Shizuoka prefecture which is known to be a wonderful resort town and lived there until the age of 94. Early May, when I learned that ICOMOS, which is the advisory body of UNESCO, made a recommendation that Fuji-san should be inscribed on the World Heritage list. So I immediately went to see my father in the hospital in Atami to share this wonderful news with my father.

He, who was already unable to speak opened his eyes, gave me a big smile and took my hand. And that was my last conversation with my father. He passed away a few hours later, before dawn. 6 weeks later Mt. Fuji was officially designated as a World Cultural Heritage. What is significant here is that Mt. Fuji was designated as a World Cultural Heritage and not World Natural Heritage. It is not its beautiful landscape but its role as a source of artistic inspiration that was appreciated by UNESCO. Mt. Fuji inspired many Japanese artists ranging from the poets who appear in Manyosyu the oldest anthology of Japanese short poem, Waka to Katsushika Hokusai and other woodblock print artists in Edo period. The essence of traditional Japanese aesthetic comes from Japanese unique views of nature, I believe. The Western civilization places humans above nature because humans have reason whereas in Japan people tend to think that even humans are no more than part of nature and seek a lifestyle which unites with nature and never challenge it head on. These unique views of nature developed by the Japanese are best represented in the making of Japanese gardens.

Japanese gardens are made in full harmony with natural landscape Sakuteiki, which is an instruction book on garden making published in the 11th century tells that if you want to make the best Japanese garden you have to follow what nature tells you. This is in a sharp contrast with the Western gardens. The garden of the Palais de Versaille outside of Paris in France is geometrically designed, composed of straight lines complete circles and total symmetry asserting human superiority over nature. However there are no either straight lines or complete circles no perfect symmetry in the real world. They only exist in human brain. The similar difference exists in the world of ceramic wear. Royal Copenhagen tea cup is very assertive in trying to make as a perfect round as possible whereas Japanese Raku-Yaki the tea ceremony bowl is intentionally distorted. Japanese feel it is very comfortable because it is natural.

The Japanese respectful nature places animals as equal partners of the humans. In Yuzuru, one of the most famous and the widely-loved Opera in Japan a crane, Tsuru, transforms itself into a human lady to help the man who saved its life. This may never happen in the Western civilization because in the Western civilization people are supposed to be superior to nature. So maybe a demon transforms a man into a swan but animals do not transform themselves to express their emotions. Japanese believe that people or humans are only part of nature goes on to accept that even furniture has emotion. This is Otogi-zoshi scroll of the medieval ages. This tells a story about a group of furniture which were thrown out into this corner of a garden, got angry about it and tried to threaten humans as a revenge by transforming themselves into monsters and demons. So this is scientifically impossible therefore sounds totally absurd to most of the people in the West but Japanese, more or less accept it without much difficulty.

Now these Japanese unique views of nature are based on the mixture of awe for and love of nature developed over the centuries. You may wonder why the Japanese have developed such ideas, such unique views of nature. The answer is the wonderful scenic views natural beauties with distinct 4 seasons. And the disasters beyond human control such as volcano eruptions or earthquakes. And rich natural resources such as blossoms, fruits, vegetables, fish that embrace the people immediately after disaster. So I think these unique views of nature developed and held by the Japanese should be better appreciated by contemporary Japanese and also should be shared by the rest of the world for the following reasons. One, this approach will help us develop high level of respect for nature which is significantly important to deal with environmental issues to protect the environment of the planet including our fight against global warming.

Second, this will help us develop sympathy, compassion for others which is vitally again important to enhance mutual understanding amongst the people of different cultural backgrounds. And third, this will lead us to the acceptance of diversity which will let us avoid unnecessary conflicts and will help us build true world peace. So I hope the designation of Mt. Fuji as a World Cultural Heritage will highlight the importance of these traditional views of nature held by the Japanese and demonstrate the relevance in the 21st century civilizatoin. Ladies and gentlemen let me invite you to go back to the life of a diplomat. They say, when a diplomat says "Yes" he means "Perhaps". When he says "Perhaps", he means "No". And if he says "No" he is no diplomat. (Laughter) And when I said "Yes" to the invitation from TEDxKyoto, I really meant it because this will provide me with a wonderful opportunity to get this message across.

And this is exactly what my father wanted me to do after the official inscription of Mt. Fuji on the World Heritage list. Thank you very much. (Applause).

Korea expands support to United Nations Volunteers scheme

Korea and the United Nations have strengthened their partnership in sending out young volunteers to communities in need. Oh Soo-young sheds light on the continued effort to help achieve sustainable development around the world. South Korea aims to further its commitment to achieving peace and development around the world by expanding its support for the United Nations Volunteers scheme. The organization dispatches thousands of volunteers across 130 countries to work on core operations such as providing basic social services, peacebuilding; youth engagement; and national capacity development. The UNV’s Executive Director visited Seoul this week to strengthen the body’s partnership with South Korea. Over the last three decades, Seoul’s foreign ministry has steadily increased its annual contribution to the UNV– expected to reach almost three-point-two million U.S.

dollars this year. This would make South Korea the organization’s second largest donor,… in addition to being the number one provider of fully-funded volunteers. “There’s a very strong volunteer spirit in Korea which is linked to the country’s traditions. And I think Korea has seen the advantages of having young volunteers, specialist volunteers, as opportunities for Koreans to interact with the affairs with the world.” Since 1990, Korean volunteers have served on a wide variety of assignments such as climate change, education and capacity building. “My role was connecting subsistence farmers to the market by providing more input such as seedlings and facilities. Also, providing more capacity building such as education, and cooperative building, and so on. By doing so, the famers could generate more income to improve their lives.” In the face of numerous global challenges, such as the ongoing migrant and refugee crisis, social conflicts and climate change,..

. South Korea will double the number of its UNV volunteers to 50 this year. Many students and specialists are keen to lend a helping hand. “I have easy access to education, water and money but I believe there are people in desperate positions and I am willing to help them. I want to become a specialist to educate them to find out their opportunities that are hidden in their society.” The executive commissioner expressed hope that South Korea’s greater participation will reap strong progress in key areas of cooperation such as governance, security and climate change. Oh Soo-young, Arirang News..

Turning down the heat on controversial topics like Climate Change | Waleed Abdalati | TEDxMileHigh

Thank you. I want to talk today about something that is very important to me, it's about communicating controversial topics. My research is related to climate change. I've served as a chief scientist at NASA, I'm the director of a large environmental research organization, and in that capacity, I tend to talk to people of all sorts about climate. What I'm going to talk to you about today is climate, but more generally speaking, communicating controversial topics. And I've talked about climate matters to the general public, to fellow scientists, to legislators, to the members of the White House, in both the Bush and the Obama administration; you can imagine those conversations were probably quite different. And I'm going to talk to you about some of the things I've learned, the things I carry forward in those conversations that I hope you'll carry forward in yours as well.

Communicating controversial topics. Sometimes this reminds me of my experiences in Washington D.C., but I'll let you to interpret that however you want. The tools of communication: words, attitude, and your clarity of purpose, and I'll get to each of those in a minute. But I want to start with a clipping from the Washington Post at the end of last year about the healthcare.gov website. When it was having problems and overcoming those problems, this article came out in the Washington Post. 800,000 visits a day, 50,000 people at one time being able to apply, but I want to call your attention to this: "Democrats optimistic, GOP skeptical." The same data interpreted very differently depending on who's doing the interpretation. What this means, what this says to me in many cases: "It is often less about the data than the narrative." We all have our perceptions of the world, how it works, and we look at the data through those perceptions, and this shapes our interpretation. This is a fundamental thing to understand as you communicate with friends, colleagues, others about controversial topics such as climate change.

I mentioned words. Words matter. Words set the tone, words convey your opinion of something, they put the audience, the person you're speaking to in a certain posture to receive your message or to resist your message. I'm going to give you just a few examples. Estate tax. A tax on the wealth you leave behind after you die, that is one way of describing it. Others choose to describe this as the death tax, the final kick in the pants by the U.S. government as you head to your grave. Words matter. Stand-your-ground law. To some this is the right to not have to retreat when you feel threatened and actually fight back with deadly force, even if you could retreat. To others, this is a license to kill. Why not retreat when you can? Why stay and kill someone? Words matter. The same situations, but cast very, very differently. Here are just a few other examples: job-killing taxes versus revenue for national needs; affordable health care, Obama care; government intervention, the common good. Different ways of describing the same phenomena, but the words say something about how you feel, and depending on which of these words you use when you talk to someone, you'll elicit a certain kind of posture, a certain kind of response.

Attitude matters. I love this. Would you want to build a sandcastle with this kid? (Laughter) Actually, I would, why not? Attitude matters, OK? People, much more than what you say, remember how you make them feel. This is what your attitude does, it sets the mood of a conversation. It will either put people in a resistive posture, if you're forth-coming, if you're strong, you're coming at them with both barrels, or, perhaps, a more receptive posture, if you're a little more open, if you're a little more receiving. The third is purpose, clarity of purpose. You need to be clear on your goals. What is the purpose of your conversation? To some people it's just about convincing, it's just about winning. When I talk to people, my interest is not so much about getting a certain outcome, I'm not a lobbyist; my interest is getting them to think differently than, perhaps, they have.

And getting myself to think differently than, perhaps, I have. It's a two-way–, it's engagement, it's not talking at someone, it's engaging someone, to move people, to move the conversation forward. So my sort of rules of engagement, I have four. The first is understand the context. I like to say your adversaries are not as dumb as you want them to be. Think about that! How many times have we all done it: "Oh, it's just so stupid! Why are you so stupid? If you could just see things the way I see them. If you knew what I knew, you'd see things my way." People feel the way they feel because of the values. It's usually not just that they're dumb, it's just that they view things differently than you do. Once you do that, you can frame your ideas in ways that resonate, in ways that connect with people, meet them where they are. Don't tell people what to think. Understand that beliefs are rooted in values, so when you tell people what to think, you're directly challenging their values.

And the third – if you take one thing away from this talk, please, let it be this – don't expect your values to change other people's beliefs. If you're going into a conversation thinking that because I value this, I can convince this person of the same thing I think, you're not going to have a constructive conversation. So understand the context, frame ideas in ways that resonate, don't tell people what to think, and don't expect your values to change other people's beliefs. When I put this into practice, when I have a conversation with a person about climate change, to get at that, I like to do two things. The first is I like to speak in simple, logical, intuitive statements. So I'll use something that we can both agree on as a starting point. In the area of climate change, it's this: "If we put heat-trapping gas into the atmosphere, it will trap heat." You don't have to be a genius to understand this statement. Most people, you know, I can get that far in the conversation. I'm not thinking about the outcomes, let's start at the beginning.

You can argue about how much heat and what's too much, what's not, – well, never not enough – but what's too much, what is tolerable. But the basic principle: heat-trapping gas will trap heat. The other is we all share some common core principles. We all want to be safe. We all value freedom. We all want opportunities to prosper. These are the common principles, whether I'm talking to a Republican congressman, a Democratic congressman, Tea Party, independent, whatever. Those are things we all value. Some of us are willing to give up more of one to gain another, others the opposite, but when we start in that place, we can have a meaningful conversation, no matter how far apart we may seem to be. This is a graph of the Dow Jones Industrial for the last 110 years, the stock market, the Dow Jones Industrial Average. It may not have much on its face to do with climate in the way you look at it, but, in fact, it does.

If you look at his curve, – it's on a logarithmic scale, so it's a bit compressed – but if you look at this curve, you see that it goes up, it goes down; in general, it goes up over the long period, over the full period of the cycle, and over the last decade or two, it has actually leveled off quite a bit. If you look at the climate curve, the temperature curve, for the last 150 years, it goes up, it goes down, on balance, goes up quite a bit, it has leveled off some over the last decade. I use this analogy because, you know, everybody wants stocks to go up, everybody can look at the graph of the stock and get a sense of what it's doing. When we do this in the context of temperature, I'll bring it back to stocks. You would never look at one stock, you'd never look at one short period of time to understand the trend.

If you took a five-year snapshot of anywhere on here, you might see rapid raises, rapid declines, you'd never say this is what is telling us what the markets are doing in the long term; no, you'll look at a longer data set. The same is true with temperature. Similarly, the leveling off at the top, the basic principles of economics and investment, the odds are the market is going to continue to go up. You can't look at that leveling and say: "The graph has stopped, the market is coming down, it's going to go back to what it was in 1902." You'd never do that. The other thing is you'd never look at one stock or a handful of stocks – they're climbing, increasing, whatever, – and say: "This is what the market is doing." You want an index, a representative index, you want SND 500, you want 500 stocks, you want to collect enough data to make meaningful contributions. Yet, people do this with temperature all the time.

People will grab a small snapshot. This last summer, Tyler, Texas, and Lubbock, Texas had a record-low high temperature in July. So it was the lowest high temperature in July, I think it was 77 degrees, and people took that and said: "Wow, it's done! There is your climate warming, it's done." You can't do that. Nor can take an extremely hot year and say: "Oh, we're cooking. This is what it's going to be like from here on now." You don't pick narrow time frames, and you don't pick one place. There are places on the Earth that are cooling, many places on the Earth that are cooling. That does not tell us what the Earth is doing as a whole, a collection of the data tell us that. One more analogy to the stock market. This is a reconstruction of temperature histories for the last 1,000 years, the famous Hockey Stick, it's called. If these were stocks, – these are different reconstructions, this is what different people find – if these were stocks, or a stock history of a company, you'd look at about 1850, 1900 and say: "Wow, something happened there.

What did they do? Did they change the management? Did they introduce a new product? Did they realize some efficiencies?" You'd want to know, you'd dig into it, but you'd say there was a change there. If this were money, you would say there was a change there, or [if this were] value of a stock. The same is true with temperature. There was a change there, something happened in the period of the Industrial Revolution. By drawing the analogy to the stock, I'm sort of taking it out of the controversial realm and saying: "Let's just look at data, forget our ideologies. What do the data say?" When looking at it in that context, you look at it differently. You look at it and ask different kinds of questions.

So these are climate model predictions for the future. What you see in gray is the past, what our models say happened before, so you get a sense of how good or bad they are by the uncertainty, the width of that gray band. In the future, we see different scenarios. One, a leveling off of temperature, that is if we drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions; the other, the red at the top, is 'business as usual' as we call it, if we don't make any changes and just continue with our activities unabated. There is a range of futures out there. This is what the basic physics tell us. Now, we can have a conversation about our differing values and how we should address this, but the basic physics, the basic principles tell us this. So I come back to the Earth. I was a chief scientist at NASA, I spent a lot of time looking at the Earth this way. A lot of you look at it up close and personally, that is great too, but I come back to the Earth. I'm not going to sit here and say: "You will experience drought. You will experience flooding. Where you live is going to go up 2 degrees, where you live is going to go up 4 degrees." I can't really say that, and I don't think that's the right conversation to have.

I think the right conversation to have is we are stressing the planet, we are putting heat-trapping gas into the atmosphere. it is trapping heat, that causes temperatures to rise, and that puts us in a different kind of risk posture for the future, a higher risk posture. How do we address that? Is the cost of not doing anything greater than the cost of doing things? That is the kind of conversation you got to have, and if I come at you with: "The world is getting warmer, it's going to be anarchy," many people will shut down. The people that won't, are those that already believe it, and I don't need to have that conversation. We're stressing the planet. And that puts our future in a very uncertain state. This doesn't have to be a story though about bad news, about repression, or suppression. If we look at the challenge of climate change, I think it can actually be a different kind of story.

A story about national security, a story about energy independence, a story about prosperity, a story about giving to our future generations. And when cast in that context, sure, these challenges are current structures, but these are the kinds of things that people value, these are the kinds of topics we can have conversations around. And I encourage you, as you talk about anything controversial, think of your narrative, think of the other person's narrative, think about how you can frame the discussion in ways that resonate with people, in ways that connect with people. Finally, I want to leave you with this last thought. One person's sunset is another person's sunrise. It's really a matter of your perspective, how you view things, where you sit when you look at the phenomena. So, as you go out and as you communicate, I encourage you all avoid the sunset and seek the sunrise. Thank you. (Applause).

How zip codes helped organize America

Between 1940 and 1960, the amount of mail doubled in The United States. That’s largely because companies began using computers to send automated mailings. Soon, the flood of mail sent by banks, advertisers, and other businesses was overwhelming postal workers. The Postal Service needed a solution. In 1963, the Zone Improvement Plan divided the country into ten regions and assigned five digits increasing in specificity, from region, to large sorting centers, to smaller post offices. Where previously mail workers had to figure out which post office went with which address, now the zip code provided that information for them. The government promoted the new system with a cartoon character, Mr. ZIP, and a song from a zip-code lovin’ band called The Swingin’ Six. You know you’ve gotta have a zip code on the envelope, a zip code so you won’t just have to hope.

A zip code morning, noon and night, and everything will be alright. And it worked — by 1969, 83% of Americans were using zip codes, and between 1971 and 1980, the number of pieces of mail that were processed per year, increased by 17 billion. But the system was limited. Zip codes are made from digits, unlike the alphanumeric Canadian system, which can encode more information per character. As America grew, zip codes got longer. In 1983, a four digit suffix was added to denote specific addresses like city blocks or large buildings. While this update improved delivery, it requires zip codes to be continually managed to reflect changing destinations and delivery routes. Instead of a system dependent on structures, a geocoded zip code would be dependent on place.

This gives every point on earth a unique permanent address. And geocoded deliveries can be sent to specific pick-up points at an address. More specificity would also benefit industries that use zip codes for purposes other than sending mail, like analyzing data. In Britain, the postal service has already geocoded their system and London realtors have used that data to make more detailed maps of housing prices. Without geocodes, American addressing is limited to zip codes and building numbers. Any further detail has to be written. With a geocode, sending mail directly to The Oval Office is as easy as remembering 38.8973603,-77.0374162. Or not that easy. Complex numbers hard to remember, so systems have been created to simplify geocodes.

One system called Natural Area Code, converts latitudes and longitudes into alphanumeric “NAC” tags. Which is netter, but still not great. A different system uses words, which we tend to remember more easily than characters. A company called What3words has divided the world into 57 trillion squares, and given each square a unique string of three words. Each combination of words goes with a specific latitude and longitude. If our postal service used What3Words, you could send your letter to “rich.soup.noble”, and the President could pick it up at the window of the Oval Office. While language makes geocodes easier for humans, machines prefer to process numbers. So the zip code will probably evolve in ways we won’t notice. Right now, computers add delivery instructions by converting zip codes into a barcode that is printed on a shipment. In the future, a similar process might incorporate geocoding, which would leave us with one question: If we don’t need to learn a new system, do we still get to a new song? We’ve told you everything we know. It’s up to you to make zip code go.

.