Yes, we do talk too much, also about issues that we do not want to solve. And we get obsessed with certain issues, on the way even changing reality so that we begin to believe what we say, not what the causes and solutions are to the problems, magnified as we talk.

Take for example the politically motivated talking that has gone on for years about Barrack Obama’s country of birth and his religion. And, Hillary Clinton’s emails and her actions related to the death in the line of duty of the American Ambassador Stevens at the American consulate in Benghazi in Libya in 2012. None of those things are real debates, with substantive data and intentions to draw fair conclusions.

They are debates that get their own feet and they live on their own, fueled by opportunists. They are sometimes more fantastic than what the Danish fairytale master H.C. Andersen could have written. Well, he had a purpose behind his children’s stories; they were entertaining for the young at heart and age; for those who could read between the lines, they revealed hypocrisy and more in society.

Certainly, we do talk too much, also many people on the Indian and Pakistani side of the border – and all those presidential hopefuls in the American TV debates. To some extent we all talk too much, including columnists, and anyone belonging to the ‘chattering class’, as the British say, people with an opinion on, and a say and stake in politics, be they in power, observers, analysts or ordinary people.

At the same time, democracies cannot thrive unless people talk. But we must organize our debates in ways that are positive and result-oriented, and we must not say more than what is true and real. The responsibility for doing this rests first of all with the opinion and political leaders, the civil society organizations and all those who ‘chatter’ on TV, in newspaper columns, in lunch breaks at work, in the tea lounge, and so on.

Let me draw attention to a few particularly important themes that deserve debate, today as they did a generation ago. Rule number one is to talk about something that is important, yes, important and positive, acknowledging the good deeds of others and encouraging more good to be done.

I would like to congratulate Myanmar on its general elections this week! It is a historic time; we human beings can do the right thing, eventually, after decades in the red and in default. Aung San Suu Kyi and her party, the National League for Democracy, have won the elections clearly, although the counting is still on. It is a victory for herself and her party, for the people of Myanmar, and for people of goodwill in any land. On a BBC interview, she was asked about her long road to victory and how to avoid violence, how to continue in peace and harmony in her land after the stifling political control and brutal dictatorship. Standing at the entrance door of power, she underlined the importance of accountability and openness. In 1990, she also won the elections, but was not allowed to take power. This time, the military has said they will accept the outcome of the elections; it is a different time and people are different, too.

Aung san Suu Kyi didn’t only remind the former rulers, who will now be relieved from their duties, of the importance of working for peace and harmony, she also underlined that we must all refrain from hateful words and sectarian propaganda because it can so easily lead to the wrong actions and attitudes that stay with us for long. She knows that the oppressed have suffered; she also knows that the oppressors have been captured in their own evil web of wrong thoughts and actions. And this, we can never talk too much about.

The second land I will make reference to today is Ethiopia, a land where famine and hunger again lead to headlines in the news media worldwide. Even in the best of times, large numbers of people never have quite enough to eat and many go to bed hungry and sick. Most of Ethiopia is a harsh and inhospitable land, not the land with ‘thirteen months of sunshine’, as the tourist advertisements say, making reference to the land’s old calendar and culture. This time, it is estimated that up to 15 million of the about 100 million Ethiopians need food aid from the government and international donors.

We cannot talk too much about this – and we have been too quiet till now. In the past it Ethiopia’s famines were top on the agenda, indeed in 1984, thanks to Bob Geldof and the unique Band Aid artists, including their Live Aid events. They made everyone listen and search their souls. After that, all governments have had to be better prepared for the recurrent famines, and try to find ways to mitigate or avoid the tragedies.

That means that talking about issues, even using pop musicians, can lead to substantive results. This year, we should have spoken more about Ethiopia’s famine; maybe we focus a bit too much on the longer-term issues of climate change and environmental issues so humanitarian issues get pushed aside.

The Syrian tragedy and the influx of forced migrants in Europe from many countries are indeed issues that we must talk about, alas not in the way we have done hitherto. And now when Russia has gained a more visible role in Syria, we must not only look for that country’s hidden agenda and own interests in it all.

It is not worthy of any of us to discuss issues without trying to be objective; we cannot delete data, pick and chose arguments and make virtual outcomes that look good on Facebook and Power Point presentations, but not in reality. We must also not behave as if we in the West are the only ones that count, letting the Syrians suffer, making villains of the Russians, and forgetting that the UK and the US are historically responsible for much of the Arab world’s current problems.

Often, lay and learned don’t even know what we talk about, and we still keep talking, repeating arguments that are the right ones within our circles. We must search for solutions that are good for all; in this case, the great, kind and beautiful Syrian people.

As a social scientist and an international traveler, with a foot and teachers in several lands, I keep noting the ‘oneness of humanity’, that would is fair and good for me is also fair and good for you. And I wonder why we human beings don’t listen to our inner voice. I wonder why even trained social scientists cannot see the world in a more real and clear light. Today, we have more data and information than ever; we can retrieve it at the touch of our fingertips on the laptop; we can talk and debate with experts; we can commission papers and studies; we can develop new ideas and insight. We social scientists must do better, together with politicians, civil society and ordinary people. We must genuinely search for the truth and the best solutions for all. I wish this could be the new paradigm in social sciences and politics from now on. Then such crises that I have drawn attention to above would be solved very fast.