Thursday, October 17, 2013
NO THIRD WORLD
HUMAN RIGHTS TRANSCEND BOUNDARIES & BORDERS
BLOG ACTION DAY 2013
THERE SHOULD BE NO "THIRD WORLD"
WE ALL SHARE "ONE WORLD"
(Thursday October 17, 2013 New York, NY) The stone and glass monolith of the United Nations building sits on the East Side of Manhattan on 1st Avenue. From the front the colorful flags of all the member states are on display as they flutter in the wind that is accelerated by the curvature of the façade. Each flag represents a sovereignty; a nation/state that by virtue of their membership espouses to hold as valued certain principals of international governance as well as proclaiming commitment to peaceful relations with their geopolitical neighbors and the wider world. It appears that the primary duty of the UN over the course of the last 30 years has been in monitoring regional conflicts, providing “peace keeping troops” to hot spots that may not yet even have a modicum of peace to keep and enforcing the plethora of treaties, agreements, resolutions and détentes they produce and police. In our troubled world today the UN does have a role but that role is in constant jeopardy of being delegitimized since their primary focus is seen as that of a global military force; often an unwelcome interloper into civil internal disputes.
There are many who call for the abolishment of the United Nations. Clearly there is a growing majority of conservative right wing politicians, analysts and pundits in the United States who view the UN with disdain and derision. Isolationists are seeing a resurgence after over 12 years of armed conflict in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as an ongoing “drone war” in the battle against global terrorism. Many Republicans in the United States Congress are of a mind that America pays far more than our “fair share” of membership dues and would like to see the UN moved out of NYC,out of the US, if not totally disbanded. Certainly the City of New York has its budget strained by being host to the UN itself as well as all the member states embassies and consulates throughout the City. But the reality is that the UN will remain where it is and will continue to endeavor to be a resource in a world replete with strife and hardship of every kind.
The United Nations often extolls the virtues of “human rights”. In their practical application of that term they are usually referring to the noble but not yet fully realized ideal that all people should be able to live free of the yoke of oppressive corrupt regimes. They trumpet human rights as being exemplified by the absence of raging religious, ethnic, tribal, regional bloody conflicts. The UN likes to look at the world as a relatively easy jigsaw puzzle to assemble and this in and of itself is a reflection of their naivety. Many of the most intractable, brutal troubled lands on Earth today are embroiled in the savagery of warfare literally centuries in the making. The examples are plentiful and the fact that such profound hatred exists among mortal enemies in 2013 is a testament to the depths of hatred, intolerance, and bloodlust.
But today, on this Blog Action Day 2013, we are looking at the matter of human rights from another perspective. We see the matter in a far more humanistic if not existential spectrum. The humans in human rights are people, people just as we are; people who share common aspirations for their families and children. The world’s population is growing at an exponential rate and in this headlong race to whatever future we may see, many humans are being left behind. Today, and maybe just for today, we should consider human rights on a level we may not typically consider.
Perhaps we can shed some illumination on the matter if we’ll suspend the use of a term that is at best dismissive, at worst, degrading. Referring to any of our global neighbors as existing in “The Third World” is counterproductive and arrogant. We have but one world, we live on one planet and we share a common evolutionary history. For a host of reasons some nation/states have not developed as rapidly as others. But that is an important discussion for another day. Today we turn our gaze to our human brothers and sisters, our cousins and relatives populating locations we may not even be able to locate on a world map. Theirs is not the “Third World” but rather vast and remote places of our World, our One World.
Since the dawn of civilization there has been an enormous amount of bloodshed in the name of a God, greed, resources and supremacy. Such conflict seems to be embedded like the mitochondria in our cells. These very same reasons animate the hostility we see today. But the cessation of these conflicts and blood shed will not be settled by a UN decree. No; not by a long shot. What can help reduce some of the motivations for conflict is marshaling all available resources to reduce the tension points between and among people.
Resources, more specifically, the access to natural resources such as clean water and crop sustaining land should be the universal mission of any Human Rights initiatives. Impoverished people whose lives are consumed by grinding poverty, poor health and nutrition are the most vulnerable to the rallying cry of war especially when they are made to place blame for their plight on another people, religion or ethnicity. One of the more bizarre facts to emerge in recent years is that no two counties that have McDonalds franchises have ever faced off militarily. What a dubious distinction of global import that a fast food chain is a sign of “development" and a measurement of stability. But it is not too hard to imagine if you think about it. The economic development that allows a nation to have a thriving “middle class” does in fact attest to a certain amount of internal stability. Take this axiom to an even more fundamental level and societies that are able to provide more of the essentials for their people have a decreased interest in unrest; yes, the stability provided by the most basic of human rights pays a dividend in many ways not the least of which is a sense of security.
The least stable central governments are those most likely to rule with unforgiving iron fists and be corrupt. It is for this reason that the UN should focus far more on providing the means and methods for less developed nations to advance out of the mire of hardscrabble existence. Here in 2013 the “developed” nations of the world should feel and act on a sense of obligation to provide assistance that will begin to ameliorate the plight of billions of our global relatives.
The United Nations, the World Health Organization (WHO), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and many other governmental and non-government organizations (NGOs) are involved in valiant efforts to address some of these human rights matters often in countries where the ruling class divert resources to their own bank accounts rather than allow the aid to be spent as intended. There are hundreds of thousands of refugees around the world fleeing their homes because of armed conflict, ethnic cleansing – a metaphor for a truly barbaric evil practice – and lack of access to the very basics needed for survival. In this sense embracing the notion that developed nations must act on the imperative to assist those most ignored and in need is also a definite step towards a less hostile world.
IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL
Globalization. A word used so pervasively in discussions of all types we seldom take a moment to consider its ramifications. Technological advancement in commerce and communications, logistics, trade and economic connectedness has indeed made our world smaller. The consequences of the rapid growth of globalization are only beginning to be glimpsed today. We have seen just how interdependent we are on each other as countries economically. The prime mover of this global economy is free trade between partners as well as open competitive markets in everything from natural resources such as crude oil and ores, to agricultural products and consumer goods. That each country needs their partners has become even starker in contrast to the recent economic crises that roiled governments from Greece to Japan.
Americans have become accustomed to being able to purchase goods at low prices. The reason we are able to is a direct result of the trade agreements we share with China, South Korea and other nations where cheap labor is plentiful. The uninterrupted flow of goods from Asia to American seaports represents 97% of the global trade market. What is so disturbing about this growing trend is that Americans give little to no notice to the “cheap labor” side of the imbalanced equation. Yes, during political debates candidates deride “outsourcing” as the scourge of American industry and, in some ways, theirs is a factual assertion. But, American companies abide by one cardinal law of trade and that is profit margins; how can we sell cheap imported goods with maximum profit? The answer to that question is found in the sweatshops and ore mines of the Asian Subcontinent and Africa. Even America depends on our own steady stream of cheap labor in the form of migrants working the fields in California and Midwest. To put a label to this far reaching practice one would not be incorrect in calling it exploitation. Since in the eyes of American CEO’s and corporate boards it is far less costly to import goods produced in countries that are not saddled by what they view as the restrictive encumbrances of employee safety, OSHA regulations or any labor laws for that matter, this form of exploitation will continue to thrive.
Arguably it is incumbent upon the United States and our departments of commerce and trade to serve as a buffer between the sweat shop operators abroad and the companies here at home making all the profits. Basic human rights should extend to the workplace. This would not be nearly as onerous as CEO’s might initially perceive. In the past six months we have witnessed terrible loss of life in factories in India and Malaysia from deadly fires destroying dilapidated factories without proper fire suppression and means of egress. In far too many countries men, women and children toil in deplorable conditions for a pitifully inadequate wage. The cheap cost of goods in the local Walmart is made possible by this multitude of anonymous laborers, an alarming number of which are mere children, in countries that are so heavily reliant in the revenue of foreign trade that the value of life is minimal. Many of these employees are forced to live in horrendous housing devoid of proper hygienic conditions including the absence of clean water and often they must pay their employer for "housing", for access to a bunk or cot in substandard ghetto-like living conditions.
The single most essential element to life aside from the air we breathe is clean drinking water. Our planet is covered by oceans and seas, lakes and rivers, streams and creeks overshadowing dry land masses by 75%. Most of the Earth’s water is salinized and unsuitable for human consumption. Water and access to it has been at the heart of many a bitter protracted battle since time immemorial. The fact of the matter is that all of us here on Earth, our One World, are approaching a water crisis that could not have been imagined a generation ago. As a byproduct of the damage we have inflicted on our home planet and its sensitive ecosystems by way of strip mining, hydroelectric damming, deforestation, industrial pollution, encroachment development and disastrously inept resource stewardship, our world is fast approaching the tipping point as far as access to reliable, consistently available potable water is concerned.
Ironically this topic is not amenable to the classic arguments that pit the “Third World”, hence called the less fortunate members of our One World. In the America Heartland and Plains water is as tightly a contested resource as any other. As in so many other major agricultural nations such as Brazil and Argentina the aquifers are dwindling as a result of the taxing burden of mass agriculture and the invasive practices of other industries unconcerned with the environment. The problem is exacerbated in countries that are seeking to enter the realm of high production in mineral extracts such as coal, iron ore and other sought after valuable elements and grains, sugar, coffee and fruits by which they can gain entry into the global commodities economy. As long as corrupt regimes and multinational raiders rule the day human rights will forever be lacking.
As members of the One World what we need to do is think about a strategy that will lift those of our brothers and sisters in primitive conditions out of that darkness and pain into the light of a more engaged human community. There is much too much at stake to leave the status quo unchallenged. If there is to be any merit to this annual Blog Action day it must result in some form of action; words are powerful, deeds substantial. Let us all look towards a day when we are truly recognized as One World, One People sharing an increasingly smaller planet and recognize the circumstances of our most in need are inextricably intertwined with the interests of us all.
The Brooding Cynyx are proud to have participated in
Blog Action Day 2013 and
We extend our thoughts and prayers to all of those
Deprived of the most basic human rights and look forward to the
Day we are truly one in a global society.
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