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La unidad europea

El sueño de la unidad europea es un proceso que se ha forjado a lo largo de los siglos para evitar las continuas guerras entre europeos. Su trayectoria histórica ha sido positiva y se ha hecho con la voluntad de los Estados. El tratado fundacional CECA se firmó después de una guerra, pero a diferencia de otros grandes tratados de la historia europea, su carácter fue integrador. Un sueño que ha traído al continente el mayor periodo de paz y prosperidad de toda su historia.

Aunque en la UE las decisiones se toman por consenso, en los últimos veinte años Alemania fue imponiendo sus criterios de austeridad económica con respecto a inflación y déficit. El final del siglo XX y el comienzo del siglo XXI fue un periodo de introspección. Los tratados se sucedieron en medio de la insatisfacción general de los países miembros cada vez más celosos de mantener sus cuotas de soberanía en detrimento del espíritu comunitario.

La Europa comunitaria se ha construido sobre un ideal de libertad, cooperación económica y respeto de los derechos humanos. Una unión de Estados soberanos y democráticos que comparten su soberanía para mejorar el sistema de vida de sus ciudadanos y para tener presencia en la escena internacional en la que por separado no tendrían ningún papel relevante. Y a pesar de las peculiaridades de cada país se ha llegado al consenso.

En algo más de cincuenta años, la UE ha pasado de seis a veintiocho países y seguirá creciendo. Ha creado una moneda única y un mercado común sin fronteras. El Derecho de la Unión Europea ha progresado y la Convención Europea de los Derechos Humanos forma parte del conjunto comunitario. Para mostrar los logros alcanzados hay que educar la solidaridad y entender cómo era Europa antes de la UE. Solidarizarnos y concienciarnos en vivir juntos y compartir la ciudadanía.

Fuente de información:

Florentín, Manuel. La unidad europea. Historia de un sueño.

Orígenes legendarios:

Kant, Immanuel. Por la paz perpetua.

Montesquieu. Reflexiones sobre la monarquía universal de Europa.

Ovidio. Las metamorfosis.

Rousseau. Extracto del proyecto de paz perpetua del abad de Sain–Pierre.

Post escrito por Carmen Rafecas

The use of language

The use of language changes according to the situation that we are in. The linguistic register of most language is neutral, that means it can be used in any situation. However, can also be formal, informal, characteristic of a certain professional field, or specific to official notices and forms. And the choice depends on what we are talking about, who we are talking to and how we are taking to them. Be careful not to think of formal language as written and informal language as spoken. Formal language is most typical of official or academic writing and official legal or bureaucratic speech and informal language is typical of conversation, personal letters and emails, and some journalism.

Source of information:

McCarthy, Michael. O’Dell, Felicity. English collocations in Use.

Post written by Carmen Rafecas

English language

English language is probably used in some way by about a quarter of all people in the world. In countries like Britain and the US, is the first language people learn as children and they communicate in English all the time. In other countries like India, Kenya, Singapore and Papua New Guinea, large number of people use English as a second language. Finally, in many countries  is taught in schools as a foreign language, but it is not an official language. English is also used for many kinds of international communication. People in science, medicine, and business often communicate in English. And also is the language of much of the world’s pop music and films.

The spread of English around the world began with the British settlement of North America, the Caribbean, Australia and Asia in the seventh and eighteen centuries. It continued in the nineteenth century when British controlled parts of Africa and South Pacific. English also became important internationally because in the nineteenth centuries Britain was the most important industrial nation in the world. In the twentieth century, the use of English spread with the growth in international business. When international companies and organizations developed, English was often chosen as the working language.

The growth in vocabulary is clear when we look at the making of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This dictionary contains all English words since 1150, even those that are no longer used. It has given us a lot of information about the history of words and expressions and has helped us understand how languages changes over time. Moreover, in the 1920 the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) chose an accent for all its speakers to use on the radio. This was the accent of the educated: people in government, at the universities, in the army, and the Church.

All over the world, people speaking English use different vocabulary, grammar and accents in a large number of varieties of English. In each English-speaking country one variety of English is used nationally. It is taught in schools and spoken on a radio and television. Everyone in the country uses the same grammar, vocabulary, and spelling when they use their country’s Standard English, though they may speak it with different accents. In the newest varieties of English, words from another language are very often used with English ones. For example, in the US some Spanish speakers speak “Spanglish” which uses English and Spanish words in the same sentence.

Jargon and slang are kinds of English that are not part of Standard English. Jargon is the difficult or strange language used by a group of people to describe things that the rest of us do not know about. For example, doctors, lawyers, university teachers, and business managers, all use words and expressions that the rest of us do not understand. On the other hand, slang is an extremely informal kind of language, much more informal than jargon. Slang usually belongs to a group of people who use it to show that they belong to that group, and that others do not. Many slang words show that you like or dislike something.

In the future, the number of people who can use English well will continue to grow and that English will remain a world language for many years. However, the future of English as a world language is not so certain. Mandarin Chinese, Spanish, and Arabic may become other languages, as the numbers of people who speak these languages continue to grow, and the countries where they are spoken become richer. Although international business may grow, some of it may be with countries in the same part of the world, and other shared languages may be used instead of English. ¿Who will use English language at the end of this century, and how? It’s hard to see clearly.

Source of information:

Viney, Brigit. The History of the English Language.

Post written by Carmen Rafecas. 

American life

People are naturally curious about each other, and when they meet people from different countries, they want to know about them. But the most interesting questions are often the hardest to answer. We must remember two important factors influencing American life: the immense size of the United States and its enormous ethnic diversity.

The belief in the individual freedom is probably the most basic reason of all American beliefs. The desire for freedom it is one of the main reasons why immigrants have traditionally come to this country. The strong belief in self-reliance continues today as a basic American value. Americans believe that they must be self-reliance in order to keep their freedom. By being dependent, not only do they risk losing freedom, but they also risk losing the respect of their peers.

A second important reason is the equality of opportunity. They do mean that each individual should have an equal change for success. Particularly important is the lack of hereditary aristocracy. There is, however, a price to be paid: competition. The pressure to compete causes an American man to be energetic, but it also places a constant emotional strain of him. When he retires, he tends to feel useless and unwanted in a society that gives so much prestige to those he competes well.

A third reason is to raise their standard of living. Material wealth became a value to the American people. Of course, most immigrants did not “get rich overnight”, and many of them suffered terribly, but the majority were not able to improve upon their former standard of living. Even if they were not able to achieve the economic success they wanted, they could be fairly certain that their children would have the opportunity for a better life. Americans pay a price, however; hard work.

It’s important to distinguish between idealism and reality. Equality of opportunity, for example, is an ideal that is not always put into practice. In reality, some people have more opportunities than those who are born into poorer families, in despite of laws designed to promote equality of opportunity for all races.The fact that American ideals are only partly carried out in real life does not diminish their importance. Most Americans still belief in them and are strongly affected by them in their everyday lives.

The six basic values: individual freedom, self-reliance, equality of opportunity, competition, material wealth and hard work, do not tell the whole history of the American character. Rather, they should be thought of all themes on religion, family life, education, business, and politics and continue to explore.

Good practices:

  • Learn about own.
  • Confronted a different way of doing things.
  • Do not assume that everyone does things the same way we do, our own culture: values, attitudes, behavior.
  • Get a composite picture of American beliefs and practices as they relate to education, business, government, sports, recreation.
  • Access to American television programs or movies, careful observation and analysis.
  • Get experience with own personal opinions to others and participate in debates and formal discussion.

Debate:

How basic American beliefs, values and character traits affect important facets of American life: religion, business, work and play, politics, the family and education.

Source of inforation:

Crandall, Jo Ann. Kearny, Edward N. Kearny, Mary Ann. The American Way. 

Purpose of the book: To help understand the cultural differences and accepting them.

Current situation: Foreign business people, visiting scholars or government officials, and even tourists are able to understand more of the values underlying American behavior patterns and institutions.

Cause: Immigrant and refugee newcomers find adoption by a systematic introduction to his new country and its inhabitants.

Effect: Be able to adapt, even if only temporarily, whenever it is desirable to do so.

Suggestions for reading:

  • de Tocqueville, Alexis. Democracy in America.
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo. Self-Reliance.
  • Emerson, Ralph Waldo. The American Scholar.
  • Franklin, Ben. Autobiography or Poor Richard’s Almanac.
  • Hemingway, Ernest. “The short, Happy Life of Francis Macomber”.
  • London, Jack. The Call of the Wild.
  • Melville, Herman. Billy Budd.
  • Orwell, George. 1984.
  • Thoreau, Henry David. Walden.
  • Twain, Mark. Huckleberry Finn.

Post written by Carmen Rafecas.

Envejecer bien

Envejecer bien consiste en tener algunas cosas claras mucho antes de cuando creemos iniciar la recta final. Es un proceso natural con velocidades distintas en cada caso. En la vida el envoltorio no es lo importante; lo importante está en el interior de las personas. Hay que cuidar más el alma, porque si el alma se mantiene activa, el proyecto de vida sigue. Es necesario luchar para hacer camino.

Cuidemos nuestra propia autoestima con nuevos proyectos. Es posible que obtengamos éxitos pero seguro que obtendremos también algún fracaso. Debemos saber levantarnos y a pesar de las molestias tratar de vivir cada instante con intensidad. Al final lo importante es sentirse satisfecho con uno mismo y procurar siempre dejar un buen recuerdo entre las personas que nos quieren.

Buenas prácticas:

  • Mantener el hábito de una alimentación apropiada y equilibrada.
  • Practicar ejercicio físico diariamente desde jóvenes.
  • Aprender a conformarnos con lo que tenemos y apreciar las pequeñas cosas.
  • Ser generoso, positivo, optimista y solidario.
  • Hacer una planificación económica, social, física, psíquica y funcional.
  • Mantener la libertad y los espacios propios.
  • Tener siempre algún proyecto que realizar.

Debate:

¿Qué se puede hacer para paliar las consecuencias del sufrimiento?

Fuente de información: 

Dr. Vilardell. Envejecer bien.

Propósito del libro: Concienciar a las personas para que se preocupen de su vejez desde la juventud, mediante la reflexión sobre el tema y la preparación adecuada.

Situación presente: Gran número de personas que envejecen de manera precoz y creciente número de personas mayores que tienen que ser institucionalizadas debido a la soledad.

Causas: Dificultades sentimentales, económicas, laborales, sociales, causadas por problemas de convivencia, de relación, de entendimiento, de hipoteca, de carácter.

Consecuencias: Actitudes sobradas, exageradas. Comportamientos ilógicos, insanos.

Post written by Carmen Rafecas

Daños colaterales

Vivimos en una sociedad de clases. Los individuos son incluidos a través de su pertenencia a una clase, con la expectativa de que cumplan la función asignada en el interior y en beneficio del sistema social como totalidad. Sin embargo, la clase formada por las personas que no contribuyen a nada de lo que la sociedad necesita para su supervivencia y su bienestar, es despojada de los derechos que poseen los miembros reconocidos y va en aumento.

La pobreza y la desigualdad y más en general los daños colaterales del laissez faire global no pueden resolverse eficazmente por separado del resto del planeta. No hay manera aceptable de que los estados territoriales, por su cuenta o en grupos, se salgan de la interdependencia global de la humanidad. El estado social ya no es viable; solo un planeta social puede hacerse cargo de las funciones que los estados sociales intentaron desempeñar con resultados diversos.

Por designio o por omisión, los mercados de consumo son cómplices de haber permitido que los vínculos interhumanos se cayeran. Asimismo, las comunidades de internet también están estrechamente relacionadas con el debilitamiento y la decadencia de dichos vínculos. El perpetuo estado de transitoriedad, su naturaleza temporaria y su abstención a exigir compromisos a largo plazo, son algunas de las características más atractivas para la gran mayoría.

La condición de fragilidad, fugacidad y contingencia ha pasado a ser hace bastante tiempo, y quizá durante mucho tiempo por venir, el hábitat humano natural. Y en consecuencia, la sociología debe involucrase en un diálogo continuo con esta experiencia humana. Los roles a desempeñar en dicho diálogo son desfamiliarizar lo familiar y familiarizar lo desconocido. Ambos roles exigen destreza para abrir al escrutinio la red de vínculos, influencias y dependencias.

Buenas prácticas:

  • Reemplazar el orden del egoísmo por el orden de la igualdad.
  • Elevar la integración humana al nivel de una humanidad que incluya a la población total del planeta.
  • Aportar cantidades enormes de buena voluntad, dedicación, disposición al compromiso y respeto mutuo.
  • Rechazar toda forma de humillación humana.
  • Garantizar la supervivencia mutua mediante la desmercantilización del impulso moral.
  • Multiplicar voces en lugar de reducir su número.

Debate:

¿Son las organizaciones y asociaciones no gubernamentales las que llegan directamente a las personas necesitadas por encima de los gobiernos locales?

Fuente de información:

Bauman, Zygmunt. Daños colaterales. Desigualdades sociales en la era global.

Propósito del libro: Abordar desde perspectivas sutilmente distintas la íntima afinidad e interacción entre la desigualdad y las bajas colaterales.

Situación presente: Desigualdad social en aumento y creciente sufrimiento humano relegado al estatus de “colateralidad”.

Causas: Sociedad de clases, mercados de consumo, crisis actual de privacidad.

Consecuencias: El debilitamiento y la decadencia de todos los vínculos interhumanos.

Post escrito por Carmen Rafecas. 

Learn to understand

Our situation on this Earth is paradoxical. Communication is triumphant and the planet is crisscrossed with networks but general incomprehension is still the rule. So, mission of education is teaching understanding between people as a condition and warranty of humanity’s moral and intellectual solidarity. If we learn to understand before condemning, we will be on the way to humanizing human relations. Understanding always is intersubjective; demands an open heart, sympathy, generosity.

Our planet needs mutual understanding in all directions, on all education levels and for all ages. Without dialogue between peoples of the world cannot exist peace. An intercultural attitude implies a risk and therefore the acceptance of the human vulnerability. Is the transition from a culture of war to a culture of peace. Is the pursuit of humanization via accession to citizenship for an organized planetary community. This is true mission of the United Nations and maybe it should be that of each of us.

Good practices:

  • Ignorance, hate and selfishness can only overcome by love, knowledge, empathy and understanding.
  • Contribute to the knowledge that is necessary to combat ignorance and fanatism.
  • Speak out for justice and peace.
  • Work towards the increasing freedom and solidarity of men and women.
  • Understanding and intercultural dialogue.
  • Have touch with essential values of civilization and humanity.

Debate:

¿How to raise awareness of the need for peace in the world?

Source of information:

(CD-book) PRO · PACEM. J. Savall, M. Figueras, L. Elmaleh, M.S. Khalil, M. Mauillon, F.Savall, with texts write by Fatema Mernissi, Edgar Morin, Raimon Panikkar.

The sound takes the form of a living dialogue of spiritually expressive vocal and instrumental music from a variety of repertoires from East and West. The non-musical part includes four interesting texts about the function of art and the educational, philosophical and spiritual thought, in addition to three new paintings by Antoni Tàpies dedicated to peace.

Purpose of the book: Makes a plea for a world without war or terrorism and for total nuclear disarmament.

Current situation: The imbalance in the world has intensified in recent years.

Cause: Millions of lives to the establishment of totally outmoded systems of exploitation.

Effect: Inhuman economic policy.

Post written by Carmen Rafecas