The world cries out for help, but nobody is listening
By: Hassan bin Youssef yassin
What we call wisdom is simply experience gained over a lifetime and the lessons learned from it. The older we get, the more situations we have lived through and the more we see resemblances and sometimes warnings of events unfolding in a more dangerous way that we have seen before. Added to wisdom and experience today is the access to information and knowledge, which, if studied adequately, can also help us to understand the world we live in.
Ironically, however, in this age of instant communication and global information, when we humans are better informed than at any other time in our history, we seem to have completely lost touch, in many cases even losing the ability to apply our experience and wisdom to new situations. In this age of increased transparency and information, we ironically find ourselves more disoriented than ever. The loss of the Malaysia Airlines flight typifies the confusion of losing all bearings in an era paradoxically marked by instant and global information.
The warning signs are all around us. In Syria, a nasty dictator is gassing his citizens to death with impunity, dropping flaming barrels on their homes from the sky, displacing millions of Syrians, all the while seeking a false electoral mandate and laughing at the world’s inaction. Human rights violations are abundant across the world, not least in Palestine, and, although we have the strongest human rights monitoring structures in place, we do nothing. Impressively-coordinated elections are held in India and in Europe, but voters seem to feel that there is no guarantee of social order and stability, and extremist representatives are elected across Europe. In America, important elections are coming, but all we hear is how much money one or the other of the candidates is amassing to sell his ideas and openly deceive people, with no substance whatsoever. It is potently clear that neither democratic systems nor our international institutions are able to address the needs of people or even the large-scale violations of human rights.
There are two French words that describe the current situation rather well. On one hand we are “blasé” about the events going on around us, inundated as we are with news and information, with the result that even the worst horrors of mankind no longer affect us for more than a day, or at best a week in the case of a new phenomenon such as the abducted Nigerian girls. On the other hand, there is a sense of “malaise” gaining around the world, distancing people from their leaders who they feel are disconnected and no longer responding to their actual needs. We have seen this frustration in many places, whether through protests, uprisings or elections either unattended or taken over by extremist forces. It is a global virus, dismissive and uncaring, where neither side is listening to the other anymore. Governments around the world look increasingly absurd and disconnected, nobody pays attention to them or their spokesmen anymore, and when they get together as “Friends of Syria” in luxury hotels to prescribe further inaction, the international community also loses all hope.
This malaise and blasé attitude about our politics today is even more unfortunate when we think about how much we have progressed in terms of science and technology. We seem to be able to make great leaps in technical know-how and tools, but we have lost the human touch, unable to speak to others, to care about others, or even to hear what someone else is saying. And yet this participation and cooperation is essential to our human future. As we remain passive in the face of tremendous crises, in a state of suspended animation, immunized to the hurt of others, the storm is gathering. Instead of dealing with the inadequacies of our political systems and our international institutions, instead of doing something to stop the devastating damage we are doing to our environment, we are collectively walking toward the cliff.
While we may all feel orphaned by the world we live in, the inadequacy of our political representation or the inaction of our international institutions, the responsibility rests with each one of us to do something about it and to begin reversing current trends. We must work together and seek the participation of our peers on every level, whether coming together to resolve a local environmental situation or bringing nations together to prevent the killing of innocent civilians in another country. If we do not act now, the world and reality are going to hit us hard. As the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said in its recent report, the impacts of global warming on our environment are already becoming “severe, pervasive and irreversible”.
If all of us give in to the pervasive sense of malaise and blasé that the world seems to be experiencing, we will soon regret what we have done – or not done. Taking into account everything human beings are able to accomplish, it is tragic to see the current inaction and inability to address today’s devastating crises. What we need is focus, concentration and participation. We must start somewhere, on some issue, or continue blindly hoping that some stimulus will come to save us from what we have done to each other and to our planet.
– The writer is a political and petroleum consultant and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org