Rethinking international affairs: A call for a multidisciplinary approach

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Then again, are studies enough?  Teachers and professors are prejudiced as well and teach you to adopt their prejudices. One needs to constantly sharpen the mind, get into touch with people who have different opinions and wonder why they are different and why one thinks the way one does. Then, maybe we can touch upon the transcendence I speak of. We have to constantly question the things we are presented with because we are manipulated every step of the way, and we also seek to manipulate others.  Why?

When we discuss manipulation, I think we are all guilty of it. In wanting to live in a predictable world where rules and understandings are set and commonplace are the goals of populist thinkers as well as the marginal thinkers. In essence, we are all trying to proselytise our ideas, whether it is for self gain, to make the world a better place, or to heighten human understanding. We essentially manipulate the pliable world not always out of malice and self-gain but because we truly believe whatever dogmas, doctrines etc. that we believe. I think that's something that can't be changed, and neither can a group come out to champion a transcendent spirit. It may take something catastrophic or some other monumental event, but the will needs to be there in each and everyone. Our societies aren't designed for creativity and innovation where it matters, they're designed with pre-assigned roles which we are taught to envy and upbraid. The things we praise and worship are fed into us, are produced by us, and are supported by us.  We can blame our governments, immigrants, other countries, ethnicities, cultures, genders, generations and age groups all we want.  However, in the end of the day, we have only ourselves to blame.  Which begs the question: are we being manipulated into the ways we live or are we equally guilty for having wilfully acquiesced into accepting them?

We are at no better time than any other in human history to have a highly informed, highly sensitive global public because of the amount of information we can have access to. At no other time in history can children in our elementary and high schools so quickly realize how fickle and fallacious we can be as human beings, and call us out on it.  When I was ten, I trusted those I looked up to - whether they were my parents, teachers, relatives - because as any other child, I sought a guide for the mysterious world around me.  I didn't have Google, internet journals and academic papers around, or the ability to examine library encyclopedias and almanacs to see if their claims could be substantiated.  But this generation is wired-in.  We won't be able to fool them and lie through our teeth.  If anything, we need the next generation to save us from ourselves. But I'm not confident this will happen because I think by the time we realize what we've done with ourselves, we might be too late. 

For me to even suggest any of this would seem absolutely ludicrous to the next person. If everyone were perfectly read in international affairs, culture, history, politics, economics, the fundamentals of global resources and commodities supply chain management (monetary economy or not), and knew exactly how the entire human anatomy operated, I and many others would remain jobless for the rest of our mortal lives. If we all could make out the perfect calculations with our brains (although some whacky idea called Singularity purports to be the answer), how many problems would we be without today? Furthermore, how many jobs would not exist as a result of not having so many problems to solve? This is truly what is inefficient about our world. We service the world not for its inherent needs but for the needs we have created out of our centuries and centuries of mismanagement. 

Sometimes I wonder whether our evolutionary development meant for us to have a higher purpose, or if in an alternate reality we were simply just intended to be mindless beings scouring the earth for a tasty mono-diet of strawberries.  Before I became a free thinking individual that discovered how to learn properly (organically rather than through rote-learning of 'static' principles), I could probably have been able to behold the possibility of such bliss.

Songül Arslan contributed research to this story. Arslan is a former Policy Advisor for Ukraine, Western Balkan, United Kingdom and Ireland at the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs.  She holds a BA and MA in International Relations from Universiteit Leiden and a MSc in Business Studies and doctorate in Financial Economics from Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen.

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