In response to the March 5 commentary, "Why Iraq's new oil law won't last": Although this opinion piece did raise some valid points, in general it seemed completely one-sided and totally negative. It is always easy to play the critic who offers no better plan.
Although the petroleum-sharing legislation recently proposed by the Iraqi government will probably face many challenges, the fact that there seems to be a modicum of cooperation among the three major ethnic and religious groups in Iraq should be a great encouragement to all. At the least, it is a start.
The legislation could be the beginning of domestic funding for the rebuilding of Iraq, so that money will no longer have to come from American and British taxpayers. It may also bring badly needed oil into the world market to lessen US dependence on foreign leaders such as Venezuela's Hugo Chávez.
Regarding the March 6 article, "For post-colonial Africa, hopes deferred": Does anyone remember the cold war? I understand the passing references to "the West" and Kenya's "socialist policies" in partly explaining Africa's underdevelopment.
But how does one explain the devastation of the 1970s and '80s caused by US policies of arms trading and the propping up of incompetent, petty tyrants to fight Soviet-backed regimes, such as those in Angola and what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo? And Soviet policies – pouring in weapons, lousy equipment, and bad advice – led to even worse conditions for Africa.
In the present situation, what really appalls me is when some people claim that the cold war was "won," and that cold-war policies have somehow made the world a better place.
These policies never did make the world a better place, and they never will. Africa's poor circumstances today are evidence of the wasted energy and resources of cold-war practices.
As a 23-year-old, I am among the narcissistic crowd discussed in the March 2 article, "Has Generation Y overdosed on self-esteem?" I disagree that we are an overly confident bunch and argue that what we really suffer from is a lack of self-esteem.
Regardless of age or gender, people who brag and strive to be the center of attention are normally unsure of themselves.
Growing up in an era where the general value is "you are what you do," it is no wonder that Gen-Y has become a cohort of overachievers.
But no matter how much we try, we will never be truly satisfied with this sort of self-esteem. Our successes are never successful enough, and failure always looms. To deal with this, we Gen-Y-ers often brag about our past successes or complain about our failures, which is another way to brag. But doesn't this happen at any age?
I think the real issue is the underlying cultural value that our self-confidence comes from what we do.
But confidence can never be found in accomplishments or failures.
True self-confidence comes from knowing who we are: spiritual beings who are one with and inseparable from God. It's a sense of assurance that comes to us quietly and peacefully, no bragging necessary. With this sort of self-esteem, we can never get an "overdose."
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