Time for a Paradigm Shift
If you open any newspaper in the world, chances are you'll read about people, ordinary people, fighting for some cause or another. From the Zapatistas in Mexico, to the feminist movements across the world, people are fighting for something. In a way its good; it represents the determination of people to fight against perceived injustices in society. A society resigned to its fate is a society defeated.
In developed countries we are blessed in that we have laws that guarantee our rights: our right to speak our minds, to take action against what we feel is unfair or unjust (within limits, of course). Many in the Third World are not given this privilege, this right. For some, violent revolution is the only solution they see. The ruling elite is corrupt, leeching from the poorest. Often even the ruling elite are slaves to some more powerful force, with little or no power at all over the fate of their people. Their sovereignty violated, they have no power over the people they are responsible for.
Theres a million issues causes for which one does indeed need to fight. Poverty and inequality is rampant around the world, even in countries we consider developed. Environmentally genocidal business practices, for the pursuit of ever-greater profits, ensure that our future generations will not enjoy this world as we do. Systematic slaughter of minority populations continues under the deafening silence of the major powers.
The problem here is two-pronged: firstly, there is a huge lack of awareness by people about anything outside their immediate communities. If you were to ask your neighbour how many people in the world are forced to live under two dollars a day, its almost certain they wouldnt be able to provide the correct answer: around 3 billion people. Nor would your neighbour know that less than one percent of what the world spends every year on the military would be needed to put every child in every country in school (of course, that hasn't happened). Your neighbour simply wouldnt know: neither would your local shopkeeper, hairdresser or baker.
Secondly, people don't really care. What doesn't affect us directly generally doesn't bother us. When you hear these figures thrown at you, it no doubt makes you pause for a second and ponder the unfairness of it all. You might even start to think about why this is the case. However, you're discomfort quickly passes, as that familiar Desperate Housewives theme starts to play from your television set.
I don't want to suggest that humans are generally apathetic. On the contrary: we're loaded with emotions. We care about lots of things. For instance, we really, really care about whether Joe Bloggs will ask Jane Doe to marry him this episode. We care about Jerry Springer's transsexual midgets. Without delving too deep into the 'anti-establishment' argument, we care about whatever we're fed. When it comes to the 'real world', most of us don't really have particularly strong feelings about much at all. Not to say we don't care about real things, that would be wrong, simply that the things we care about perhaps aren't the most important, most urgent issues there are.
If people really knew about the extent of poverty and inequality, they would care. If each and every person knew, and was directly confronted with the real tragedies of the third world, or even the tragedies of our societies, I believe a great majority would stand up and demand justice. Unfortunately, most of us with the power to orchestrate change, the middle and working classes, are comfortably insulated from the problems of the world. We don't have real contact with those truly suffering, nor are we informed of their plight by the major media outlets. Rather, we believe in the causes we're told to believe in. Homosexual rights, for example, need to be addressed, but are hardly more important than the 30,000 children that die daily due to poverty. And yet the media today gives us the impression this is the most important issue we face today. From gay marriages to Brokeback Mountain, the rights of homosexuals to express themselves is currently the 'in' thing of causes to support.
We need to break out of this manipulated bubble we live in. There are so many ways that even the ordinary person can do to help. Even educating ourselves can be a great help to those people who need us. And there are so many things really worth fighting for. There is inequality in every country in the world; it doesn't have to be the far-off third world country. Up until last week I was ignorant to the fact there is a large number of refugees in the city I live in, here in the UK! Environmental destruction and the depletion of our natural resources means that, with our approval, the rape of the Earth can go ahead. All we need to do is wake ourselves up to whats around us. Once that happens, we'll have real power to do what needs to be done, in whatever cause we choose to fight for.
facts, figures taken from here.
Posted by illogicist at 11:38 AM