First of all, let me be clear. This is NOT a post about Donald Trump or the recent American Election. To me, in many ways, that situation is small potatoes, a mere symptom (among many) of a much larger problem. Ask, Kalpana, my long-suffering wife, and she’ll tell you that this has been simmering in my brainpan for a very long time.
And, I apologize for not being a more regular correspondent lately, but, frankly, I’ve been waiting to see how things play out on a global scale (Syria, Brexit, etc.). But now, I find I have to say something. It probably won’t be very eloquent as I’m shooting a bit from the hip and the heart here. In all likelihood I’ll probably do a bit more research and revisit this subject and clean up loose ends at a later date.
The notion of a “global village” has been around for years. It most often refers to the idea that telecommunications has made it relatively easy for any individual on the planet to be in contact with any other individual on the planet. Imagine being able to call/Skype, etc. Kosovo from Kansas as easily as ringing your friend on Elm Street from your house a few blocks away. But I think we’re moving into a phase where the citizens of our “global village” are not the billions of humans walking the planet. I think the village is shrinking and now contains just 190 to 196 citizens (depending on whose count you trust). The United Nations has 193 member states. Other sources list the number of countries in the world at anywhere between 189 and 196, depending on what qualifies as a “country”. The border between those 189-196 countries is miniscule. It’s measured in microseconds.
Thanks to social media, 24-hour news cycles, and ubiquitous cellular communication, we instantly hear about anything and everything from every corner of the world,. As a result markets respond to events that heretofore had no effect on them. Outrage over hate crimes and atrocities is felt on a global scale. Are we too sensitive? Yes, probably. But as much as self-preservation and greed are base human traits, so is empathy.
Now when you couple global outrage with a world population that can’t sustain itself in the manner to which it would like to become accustomed, the attendant scarcity of everything from oil, water, food and housing, to jobs, flat screen TVs, the latest iPhone, and Twix bars, has countries scrambling to protect what’s theirs. And, everyone hears about it instantly, and starts hoarding Twix bars. Then, presto change-o, seemingly overnight we have the rampant tribalism of Right Wing xenophobia, and talk of walls and refugee exclusion, or exclusion of anyone who ever ate a Twix bar. Like it or not the world is now hopelessly interconnected.
I’ve written before about discovering just how globally aware other countries are in comparison to America and the ways in which American elections affect other countries. But in recent months the need for a global awareness and education on a range of issues, that previously need not concern the everyman, has become critical. From Brexit, the Syrian conflict (and the refugee crisis), to the American election, it’s become clear that all of our fortunes are linked.
In the last week I’ve been amazed that, here in Ireland, every conversation between an American and anyone from anywhere else begins with, “So, Trump….(pregnant pause)…..”What do you think”. And, here in Ireland, where Trump’s promise to bring jobs back to America could very well scare a few major employers back to the U.S., or at least cause a serious downsizing, the implications are very real, and potentially devastating. Everyone is watching and waiting. And, at the same time, we’re still positioning ourselves for the local fallout from Brexit.
But even with those uncertainties floating around, I was heartened to see that Ireland announced this week that it is still actively welcoming refugees, and is counted among the countries most responsive to the refugee crisis.
We now live in a world where small “local” decisions have global implications. In our village of around 190 citizens when somebody has a cold, we all rightly worry about catching it. Yet we also have the capacity to quickly effect great change. But we must educate ourselves, and be willing to forego the tribalism of scarcity for the empathy of our humanity.
Dublin, November 2016