Eric Liu: Why ordinary people need to understand power

citizen university



Beforehand, I’ve posted one TED talk about the uncontrolled inequities between the plutocrats and the commoners. And, here’s again another power-related one, which pretty much can explain about the previous video: ordinary people’s illiteracy, and blatant ignorance, of the importance of power. Given this rationale, it is why power – and much of the vacuum left by ignorance – is concentrated only among a handful elsewhere, not just in United States, but also across the world. Democracy, in sum, hasn’t been completely realized.

Eric Liu, a Seattle-based civics educator and also pioneer of Citizen University, wants to debunk the ongoing cycle, and provides one proof where civic engagement is possible, and thanks to globalization, can become a contagious ‘positive virus’ as well: cities. Cities, in his idea, can become great social laboratories to engineer changes for the sake of the people, particularly at a time when national governments mostly end up in deadlocks for partisan, stalled negotiations.

He offers some examples where we should learn:

1. The idea of ‘bike-friendly cities’ that kick-started in Copenhagen, Denmark, and spread to dozens of cities across the world

2. How Seattle led the initiatives of numerous major cities across the United States to set targets for reduction of carbon production; at a time when the country, overall, refused to participate in Kyoto Protocol

3. When national government in Washington, D.C., was highly paralyzed due to partisan conflicts of interests, it is instead local cities, towns, and lower-level administrative divisions that continued providing essential services for the people

4. How ‘participatory budgeting’ in Porto Alegre, Brazil, by which city dwellers decide together how much funds the city should be allocated for expenditure by sectors, spreads into numerous major cities across the planet

5. The rise of grassroots movements in China to oppose corrupt authorities at a local level, and the rate is rising

Learn more about this potential by tuning in to his TED talk below.


Infographic: How powerful is your passport?

passport infographic


Dear Americans and Europeans, the world is now instantly easy under your grab by means of your passports! Without so many requirements, your passports can be easily applied across nearly all countries worldwide (even though you should consider countries like Iran, Syria, or North Korea).

Nope, even if you don’t belong to these groups, at the least, you can expect yourself to be relieved, as long as you are either a Malaysian or a Singaporean, or even from sub-national entities like Hong Kong or Macau, the passports are acceptable in more than 150 countries worldwide. That said, you are much luckier than a Russian (whose preceding state, the Soviet Union, was once a superpower), or even someone from mainland China (whose country, analysts say, is being considered for the throne of superpower in the future; only 43 countries do accept their passports flesh-and-blood).

Nonetheless, my dear Indonesians, we are not that lucky, somehow; thanks to our low-sounding diplomatic prowess, only 53 countries acknowledge the validity of our documents with no other hullabaloos, much less widespread even to countries like Papua New Guinea (75 in total).

What about countries whose legal basis is being questioned by other sovereigns? Taiwan, thanks to its economic leverage and its remaining diplomatic prestige (22 countries, mostly small and underdeveloped, still recognize Taiwan as the sole successor of China), remains among the top, with 130 countries admitting their passports.

Afghanistan and Iraq may remain the least powerful states, but again, you should feel sorry for our fellows in Somaliland though. (they are completely unrecognized by any sovereign nation-state, but they succeed better than the rest of Somalia).