THE UNITED STATES, where each mass shooting welcomes another and worse one

October 9, 2017

By Eddy Montilla

To own a gun is in the United States like the Super Bowl, that is, part of the country’s culture. There is, however, a significant difference between them: The second one brings joy; the first one brings pain and death. It is said that the almost inseparable Americans’ characteristic that fuels many people’s burning desire to possess a weapon has its origin in the arrival of European immigrants who felt the absence of State authority and opted to defend themselves. What those settlers never imagined was that firearms would turn into mass lethal weapons someday, able to be bought at a department store as if it were a household item.

But many years has passed since those settlers arrived at the United States, so if the problem about firearm-related deaths has not been solved yet, it is the present generation that should be held to account. From the American government to citizens, both sectors have failed in their attempt to reduce deaths from mass shootings. The millionaire, compulsive gambler, real estate investor and today “famous” mass shooter Stephen Paddock unveiled the fact that mass shootings in USA are close to become an uncontrollable situation. Paddock’s actions left 58 people dead and hundreds injured, a tragedy telling us that something worse is coming considering how easy it is for citizens to get more and more sophisticated and lethal weapons.

The sale of weapons has been a lucrative business inside and outside the country. Consequently, it is not necessary to explain how this killer could buy an alarming arsenal of weapons, 23 guns, including semiautomatic rifles, scopes and hundreds of rounds of ammunition and how he could fire at a rate of 400 rounds per minute over into a crowd from about 400 yards (365.76 meters) away. The main restriction that an American has to buy a firearm is imposed by himself or herself, that is, how much money he or she has for that. But, how many guns does a person need to protect his or her family? Why does a person need a gun if police officers are paid to protect citizens?

During the last decade, USA has seen more than 200 mass shootings. It is not the large amount of time dealing with the same problem, but the way it is being seen and faced today what people should worry about. Today people cry, talk and weeks later forget everything. Stephen Paddock’s lethal attack on a Las Vegas country music festival is not one more to be added to the long list that already exists. It is the prelude to what is to come: Something worse. Intervals between a mass shooting and another are getting smaller and the attacks are deadlier. Since 2010, it has not passed a year without more than 10 people killed in a mass shooting (except for 2014) and since 2015, the last killer wants to kill more people than the previous one did.

As in earlier instances, after each mass shooting, people talk about it, mass media get news, the president delivers a speech and, after several weeks, the society and government will continue with their registered trademark expression: “We have to move forward”, which means people will forget Paddock’s case as they did with others mass shootings until another sadistic or sick shooter brings a new record. Since a shooter’s hunger for blood is fed by the largest number of victims killed before, then, if the problem is not resolved, to see more that 58 people killed, that is a new record, it is just a matter of time.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.


The Dominican Republic: With bright sun and politicians made of wax

September 23, 2017

By Eddy Montilla

Since the 1960s, the Dominican Republic has seen a lot of people giving orders from the Government, but it has had only three political leaders. The first one José Francisco Peña Gómez, a man whose personality was filled with kindness almost verging on weakness. The second one was Juan Bosh, a great theorist and visionary at the forefront of his contemporaries, and that’s why he was misunderstood and underestimated. The third one was more practical than the others and gained, therefore, more power. But even in politics, even the righteous end up as rotten as an apple. That happened to Joaquín Balaguer who went from a servant of dictator (Trujillo Molina) to
a dictator disguised as president.

Those three politicians, despite their mistakes, in contrast to the new generation of politicians who rule inside and outside the Dominican government, showed total indifference for money to use it for personal gain. Today, the clamour of the Dominican people, asking for real anticorruption actions, can be heard everywhere in the island, which is shown by the numerous forms of protests they frequently use to demand the end of impunity. More than ever, Dominican politicians dance with corruption. The most recent example is Odebrecht corruption case, a massive web of corruption found in more than half of the countries in Latin America based on financing politicians’ political campaign expenses first to get works contracts later. It is said that Odebrecht, the largest construction company in Brazil paid 92 million dollars in bribe for the works contracts. As a token of gratitude or as a new way of extortion, parties with women included were offered. When I compare actual politicians with those the island had in the past, the first question that comes is where did the country fail?

The Dominican Republic has had a thriving economy for almost two decades, but because of corruption, misuse and mismanagement of resources, millions of people live in poverty. The Caribbean country needs a radical change of generation of politicians, something that will not happen without great efforts since those who lead the country (whether inside or outside the government) are unwilling to cede power, those who melt when they are heated by the word honesty. With their different protests, the Dominican people have undoubtedly taken a step forward, the first one. Now, for the good of the country, people should go free of fear for the second one: New leaders for new times.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

When modern pedagogical methods do not work with your children…

September 19, 2017

By Eddy Montilla

For parents, to find an effective method for child discipline and education has always been one of their top priorities for two reasons: First, parents wish the best for their children and second, because it is not an easy task to work and take care of them. So, if the part related to their teaching goes well, the burden on parent’s shoulders is lightened. we get ideas from child psychologists, educators and other experts, ideas that vary from helpful to poisonous, and since poison is stronger than help, you know already where to send your flowers.

We are falling into a trap of emotional weakness about the way to bring our children up. My parents had seven children. They reared their family surrounded by unity and love family, but we had to act in accordance to a code of conduct which was based on the principles of respect and obedience. Now, let´s see the poison: The other day, when I asked a Bolivian young mother about how her son was, she answered in that way: “Well, but he is the first and last child I will have. This is too much hard work for me.” Since this is just an appetizer, do not form a reasoned judgment yet and please wait for the main course:

Two days ago, a Japanese mother told me that recently her daughter can’t get out of bed to go to school. “My daughter is physically healthy”. The mother said. “The problem she has is common among a lot of children these days, so I have to take her to a specialist.” The deficiency on children’s discipline and education has reached a critical point by spreading internationally. This mother’s story brought to my mind that day when my grandmother knew that my elder brother had been absent from school for two days for the same reason: “cannot get out bed to go to school.”

My grandmother’s answer to this problem was as simple and natural as life itself. She walked past the front door and went directly to our room, I closed my eyes and he got his bottom and stomach smacked. “Now that you can neither lie on your back nor on your stomach, my dear Frank, I give for granted that you will be taking your lessons at school today since I am pretty sure you do not want to see me here tomorrow. The slaps on his bottom did not leave him with a scar or were life-threatening. They just taught him he had to do his duty, that is, to go to school and study, and thanks to those slaps, Frank holds a management position today.

I do not fly the flag of punishment as first option, but I strongly believe that punishments (for example, there is no TV today, desserts, etc.) are vital to teach a child how to face up to life and his responsibilities. Punishments keep children away from undesirable behavior, teach them that we pay a price for our mistakes and then, they learn to create prevention mechanisms to not make them again. In the worst-case scenario, a couple of smacks will not kill your son and can get him back to the path to understanding. However, according to many “experts in the field”, those ideas are outdated and have no place in the contemporary childhood education system that rules today. And all that for what? What have we gotten with that? Manipulative children who threaten their parents to call the police if they are “touched” (USA), oversensitive children who feel sickened at the sight of the cover photo of an insect (Japan) and many other cases in many other countries. Parents are “spoiling” their children based on an idea that was misunderstood and defined as “I don’t want my children to suffer as I have”. The truth is only one and it hurts: From parents to educators, adults in general have pampered too much this generation of children and have made of them spoiled brats, too weak psychologically to move forward for themselves for their own misfortune. Fill your children’s education with love, but keep your heart strong when the circumstances merit.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Understanding Japan (3): Analysis of Japanese people’s working methods. Advantages and disadvantages

July 20, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

A way to understand what work means for Japanese people is observing the bees: They have an excellent system of work organization, spend almost all their live time working without complaining despite the toughness of their work and when they cannot do their job properly, their reason for living comes to an end. Now, let’s see the topic from two different angles:

Positive aspects of Japanese work system

(+) Strong feeling of belonging and loyalty to the company

From USA to France, from China to Kenya, from Australia to Brazil, that is, wherever you go, you will find the same way of thinking of workers with respect to the perception they have about their company: A job done for a salary. “I’m here because I receive a salary that lets me put food on my table. As long as they pay me, I keep working. As soon as I get something better, I am leaving them. If the company goes well or wrong, that’s not my business. After all, it is not mine.

”What’s wrong?” I asked my student, Mariko. “You look a little bit worried.”

”Few customers come to the store where I am doing a part-time job after class. “Taihen” (What a problem!)” She said.

Mariko’s wage is 850 yen per hour (around 9 dollars, as I write this article). Regardless the number of customers, she will get her same wage. In the same circumstances, how many people do you know who will be worried because they do not have many things to do at work? But not in Japan, where employees feel themselves responsible for the path the company has taken and feel the company’s failures and problems as theirs.

(+) ”I” goes behind “we”

The biggest secret and foundation of the Japan’s business success is not related, in my opinion, to this country’s technology advance, as many people think (Germany, USA and many others countries have great technology too), but to the idea and feeling of acting in unison, which are instilled in its citizens at early age. Japanese people put the “I” and the string of problems caused by the egoism that this word usually brings behind them to give priority to “we”. That gives them greater synergy for better collective development.

One day, some people were in front of their office to plant a small tree. One employee was holding the plant, another employee had a shovel, the boss had a stake, the youngest worker had a shower and a girl had a good camera to capture some happy and productive memories. I tried to imagine what Ted (a hypothetical employee in other country) had said in the same situation after being told to do the same job, but alone: “Who the hell does he think I am to send me to plant this f…g (expletive) tree alone? How about Richard or Carmelo? They are doing nothing as always!” As you can see, the boss’s decision only “helped” to add one more problem in an already very troubled relation.

(+) High sense of corporate social responsibility

Corporate social responsibility is something relatively new. In practical terms, it has been in the last three decades when companies have focused their attention on the society’s growth besides their traditional operations for profits. In Japan, however, this idea is older than that and, considering the country’s collective thinking, perhaps it has always existed. The society is you and vice versa. You improve to the same extend as your society does. add to that the fact that any step a Japanese company takes, no matter how big or small it is, underscores its commitment to offer quality in its products or service to the Japanese society.

(+) The pursuit of satisfaction for each task accomplished

There is a worldwide perception that Japanese people are always working. It is not 100 per cent right, but it is not far from reality either. To work is not an easy task. Otherwise, we would not be paid for that. The question here is how they can bear marathon work hours day by day. The reason might be that they find and feel some kind of pleasure in each task accomplished. Now let’s see the other side of the coin:

Negative aspects of Japanese work system

(-) Obsessive search for perfectionism

Japanese people are perfectionist and attach importance to the idea of change. They are constantly looking for something new, which means for them profits and growth. Consumers frequently see new products, qualitatively or commercially improved. Perhaps, Japanese people do not invent many things, but improve everything. The idea of perfectionism is good at first, but later tend to become obsessive for them. The stress caused by being pushed to be perfect, to do the right things all the time and to come up with something new have led thousands of people to commit suicide every year for decades. But this is only the tip of the iceberg: There are millions of workers who need sleeping pills or cans of beer to sleep. This is in addition to the retirees who are struggling with the same situation.

while having a cup of coffee inside a department store, I watched the way a Japanese shop assistant worked. The girl could not stay still for a minute: She was changing the position of the skirts, doing new combination for dresses and scarfs, etc., until a customer came. The motto seemed to be something like that: “If you do not have anything to do, then, just invent a new task.” In Toledo, Spain, I saw the opposite situation when I went into a store ran by members of a same family. They were telling me the story of the city, their store, funny stories and so on until a new costumer asked for a souvenir. I am sure they do not live a modern life as the Japanese girl, but perhaps they are happier. When you polish too much a piece of metal, you do not get more shine, but a smaller piece of worn out metal. To try to live with no limitations of any kind in an obviously limited world brings a lot of headaches.

(-) Lack of flexibility

I still remember that night when I was leaving a restaurant on a Friday night. I saw an impeccably dressed Japanese office worker hitting lightly with his head a light pole. He was drunk, but the reason of his action was not the amount of alcohol he had ingested, but some mistakes he had made on that day. The obsessive pursuit of perfection we mentioned before leaves little margin for error and flexibility because of competitiveness. While in other countries people work for a fixed period of time (“Well, it’s 6:00 p.m. It’s time to go home. See you tomorrow, guys.”), in Japan, you work until your job and your coworkers’ are done. It means that if “the things to do” they had planned for today are not done yet, do not expect to leave the company. Because of that, Japanese workers spend marathon hours at work working overtime. Take a walk at night and you will see those Japanese office buildings with lights on even at eight or nine. We are talking about more than 10 hours per day, not counting commuting time. In Africa, you might die of hunger; in Latin America, for lack of medicine or for an armed robbery, but never because of overwork. In Japan, on the contrary, Karoshi (death from overwork) killed more than 2000 workers in 2015. A case, extensively publicized in the national and international media, was the suicide of a 24-year-old young worker who did 105 hours overtime the month prior to her decision of taking her life. Many other cases like this one never come to light and are solved by the companies involved with the offer of millions of yen to the families affected as compensation. In most cases, workers find a way to cope with stress and long hours of work by thinking that at night they will be drinking like crazy, and they drink like crazy on that night because next day they will be working in that way.

Except for work, few expectations in life

If you go to a party with coworkers, you will quickly notice a lot of food, alcohol and, after drinking and eating, a lot of conversation about… work at office. While people try to detach working life from everyday life, in Japan, in practice, there is only one life: work. Hours of work surpass those ones devoted to their families and rest. Workers are usually transferred to other cities. Fathers move alone and rarely see their children and wives. In the last years, many Japanese couples don’t even have children, in part because of their jobs, so children are replaced with dogs and cats.

Japan is an aging society, but different from other countries with similar situation, the acceptance of immigrant workers is minimal and restricted to very skilled workforce. Today, Japan’s unemployment rate is low (less than 4 per cent) and enjoys economic stability and security. However, if there are no changes in its labour policy, the country will face a terrible workforce shortage and, family imbalance or breakdown or household comprised of one individual with consequences that are not at all promising to a point that I would prefer not to predict about them.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Major cyberterrorist attack: Just a matter of time

May 27, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

In the field of technology, invention and discovery, perhaps we still have a lengthy path ahead, but when it comes to behavior, the way we use to response to critical situations is always the same, as the old proverb says: “There is nothing new under the sun.” That explains why we focus our attention on making progress in the first idea and have already forgotten the second one. We have digitized almost everything, our job is centered around a computer and Internet and, on the other hand, we have forgotten valuable pieces of advice from former generations like this one: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, a mistake we are doing today by depending almost exclusively on computers and smartphones without making paths for other options.

It is almost undoubtedly to say that the change from the analogical to digital era, from paper to screen saves us an enormous amount of time at work and makes our lives easier. Despite this fact, the most recent cyber-attack that temporarily crippled websites in more than 150 countries, affecting more than 100,000 organizations made clear the vulnerability of our apparently safe digital world and showed us the other side of the coin: We are taking the risk of losing all our data and since everything is there, we could be in the future without past and present. We are living in an era of major technical breakthroughs that periodically change their channels to distribute information and their data storage system. There are people who still use CDs or DVDs for that purposes; others opt for USBs and we can find people today who are going for iCloud only. Those different formats, rather than being considered a great help, they may be perceived as “the tower of Babel” that only a computer can decode. The next question seems to be forced under these circumstances: What would happen if our computers, because of a world cyber-attack, lost their capacity of reading and examining data? From our family albums to all valuable information of a company, everything would disappear as quickly as a bunch of cookies in front of a group of children with empty stomachs after school. Scientists and experts on the subject like Eugene Karspersky, for example, have been warning us about this possible chaos on the world’s computer systems. That means we are not in front of a hypothetical case, but in front of something likely to happen

Every time burglars find a way to circumvent a sophisticated security system to enter houses to steal, a new one is invented to make them “their job” more difficult. This situation turns into a repetitive circle. Fortunately, in the field of computers and Internet, it is not the hackers, but computer programmers who are in the vanguard, which gives us more time to be better protected against them. That does not mean, however, that the current situation will continue like that in the future, which has raised alarm bells world-wide once you think about England and Scotland, for example, places where many hospitals where hit by the ransomware cyber-attack, forcing to cancels surgeries and treatments for patients.

What in the past was only a figment of Len Wiseman’s imagination (a massive computer attack on the United States infrastructure in his movie Die hard 4.0) is today some closer than ever to be real. “A mayor cyberterrorist attack is only a matter of time.” as Karspersky said once. We should, therefore, try to find balance between our technological wisdom and popular wisdom, and the way we can do that is avoiding putting all the eggs in one basket, which implies to keep hardcopies of certain documents, to have at least one computer without Internet connection (if possible) and to take other preventive measures like these ones. Include in this group, of course, to have some cash at home because banks use computers too. In normal time, normal people always make fun of the well-prepared, but at the end, during stormy times when the unthinkable becomes massive problems, the well-prepared stay afloat while normal people take only one direction: A race to the bottom.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

It’s time for a change in Venezuela

May 13, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

People on the streets protesting the regime of President Nicolás Maduro.

If a president’s efficiency during his or her administration could be judged by his or her practical results, President Nicolás Maduro’s four years in Venezuela might be labeled with just one word as unfeasible.

According to the International Monetary Fund, inflation in this South American country is running at 720.5% this year and if it continues at the present dizzy rate, by next year Venezuela’s consumer-price inflation will be hovering 2000%. To calculate how much money a Venezuelan will have to pay for the same product next year is enough to have a splitting headache. Besides, the country is dealing with a massive shortage of basic goods and money.

As the economic crisis deepens, the real monster emerges from darkness in that country: The internal division of its citizens. Venezuela has split into those who defend the dead Hugo Chávez’s memories and his Bolivarian socialism rather than a living Nicolás Maduro and those (like the opposition leader Henrique Capriles) who see president Maduro as dictatorial as his predecessor. Since last March, continuing protests against the Government and demonstrations of force from both groups with irreconcilable differences have created a chaos that has left 41 people dead until now. If Venezuela does not see positive and radical changes in the coming months, for the benefit of the country and citizens, President Nicolás Maduro should cede democratically his position to another person.

President Nicolás Maduro´s supporters.

The world is free and that gives us the right and freedom to think and act freely. If President Maduro and supporters want to keep their revolutionary ideas and other things, nobody should object to them. But, for their part, they should not close their eyes to reality, and Venezuela’s reality says that this Latin American country has not improved during his four years as president, perhaps because of the chasm between his predecessor and him: In Venezuela, people loved or feared Hugo Chávez; they threw object to Maduro. Chávez always found a way to solve or hide problems; Maduro cannot cope with all problems he already has (excluding those that are looming) and try to solve them mystically: Chávez’s apparition as a little bird, a butterfly or talking to cows.

In Venezuela, without present nor future for its people this moment, a change seems to be the best option, an option that could reconcile all groups in this polarized nation. Unfortunately, it is as difficult for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle as for a president to concede power to others once he or she is drunk with power. Latin American’s history is full of presidents who acted in that way and it has few examples of wise politicians who did the opposite. Future will tell us what group President Nicolás Maduro belongs to.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.

Dignity or a couple of euros?

April 23, 2017

By Eddy Montilla.

Our world is full of people: Most of them are normal, some of them are endowed with great intelligence and finally, you can find a great bunch called the acephalous. For these reasons, it is not sleep deprivation when you see a group of fans of the English football club Leicester clashing with police officers or committing violent actions in Madrid one day prior to a match.

But things are different when the ignorant threw coins into the air to enjoy themselves by watching beggars running precipitately to pick them up. Under these circumstances, we should ask ourselves why we have sunk to a very low level as human beings and where our dignity went. In practice, the economic position and future of a person depend on the economic condition of the family he or she was born and raised in and his or her home country. Efforts made later by this person (studies, career, etc.) are, in fact, collateral. To the ignorant who threw those coins, not even for a moment did it cross their mind that if they were born in South Sudan (just to cite an example), perhaps they should be at this moment, instead of those women, begging somewhere.

When you lose your dignity, you lose everything. There is no doubt that with their actions, those who threw the coins embarrassed their families, country and club. But if what they did was an undignified act, the same was what those women did when they decided to pick the coins from the ground. The should not do that. Nobody dies for a night without food and they could win by showing and demanding respect. I fully understand that it is also easier to say it when you are not the person who is begging, but if you do not fight for your rights, dignity and respect, who is going to do it for you?

To use people’s woes as a form of leisure speaks itself about our society’s putrefaction levels. We are on the wrong track and that is dangerous. It seems that we went from the Stone Age to a wild and lacking dignity society where people’s heart has turned into stone.

This article was originally published in the digital newspaper World And Opinion.

Copyright 2017 All rights are reserved.