Common sense, average intelligence and intergenerational learning


The new Ministry of Defense in Peru, Rafal Rey, has declared to the national news: “I don’t have any special quality or feature to be a Minister, and much less to be the Ministry of Defense,  what I have is common sense and average intelligence“. A heavy dosis of honesty from the new Minister. Rafael Rey lives of politics, he has been former Ministry of Production, Congressman and recently, Ambassador of Peru in Italy and he is just one of many others. A strong critic of current Presiden Alan Garcia during Fujimori’s and Toledo’s term, he then accepted the first Ministry post. I do not mean to be a political radar with this post, what I wonder is how we keep on chosing people who actually lack of common sense and average intelligence.  By chance (if chance actually exists), I came across a note from the journal El Comercio on what to do with our elders.  It argues that Peruvian many times follow Manuel Gonzales Prada’s line of thought  “youth to work, elders to the tumb” (1894) instead of learning from the past.  Maybe that is why we keep on the vicious circle. No education, no memories and keep of choosing the same politicians who change ideals (and ideas) according to the government in power. Every new government changes drastically the institutions, create new ones, close many, and in this process pushes knowledge (institutional knowledge, generational knowledge, scientific knowledge) backwards. We lack of memory and at the same time, we do not interact enough with our elders. I am 31 but I do remember studying while at primary school lighted by a candle because power cuts at about 8.30pm every night, as a result of terrorist attacks to energy towers, my mother has to line up for hours and lie about being part of “the party” in order to get milk produced by ENCI (the government’s milk company) and thousands of people lost their entire savings because of inflation (3398.6% in 1989). 20 year after, there are at least 61,000 towns with only 11 people living in each of them and who lack of basic services according to the Peru’s Population Plan (2009-14) recently published. So what has really changed? Oh yes, Lima has better infrastructure, there is tons of traffic and more pollution and Peru is getting a lot of money from selling its minerals. Enough for now, am getting ready for my class on “land use regulation”.  A lot to think about…


About sandravelarde

Peruvian Forest Engineer (UNALM) and MSc. in Ecological Economics (University of Edinburgh, UK). I am a natural resource management specialist. My experience is in socio-economics in tropical forests, evaluating the trade-offs across different land uses: biodiversity, carbon,and profitability (FAO, ASB, ICRAF). My PhD thesis at the Australian National University (ANU) is about tree planting for bioenergy. My passion: Planning and capacity building, using participatory methods, like Future Scenarios (CIFOR, ASB, ICRAF, Millennium Ecosystem Assessment). Currently working as Economist / transdisciplinary scientist at the New Zealand Forest Research Institute (Scion).

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