We are ONE species inhabiting one planet.
Globalization made it true that everybody and everything is connected in some ways, and nothing is going to put this genie back in the bottle. Whether we like it or not, trade, the internet, multinational corporations, people and ideas moving across all borders are simply forces that cannot be contained with walls or increased security measures.
This is a relative new reality to which we have not adequately adjusted.
Fifty years ago, something like the Zika virus in Rio would not have necessarily caused the potential for a global pandemic, and a failed bank in New York City might not have caused a worldwide financial crisis. But today we face a number of existential confronts that can only be solved together. Migration, radical Islamism, global warming and eco-sustainability are just a few of these challenges that simply can’t be solved with individual actions and nationalistic policies.
Policy adviser Simon Anholt (1) advocates that all governments (and the people that elect them) have a dual mandate: Not just to protect their own slice of territory, not just to further their own cause, but to take responsibility for the entire world and actively contribute to the greater cause. We should stop regarding this as a gesture of humanitarianism but as way to guarantee our own survival. Interestingly enough, countries that enjoy a good international reputation also benefit directly, for example by attracting intellectual and financial resources, creating desirable tourism destinations and making it easier to sell their goods and services at a higher prices.
Anholt discussed the Good Country Index during a TED talk. To learn more about the index and how countries are ranked, go to www.goodcountry.org (and no, the U.S. is not ranked No. 1; we’re No. 20).
Of course, Anholt is right, but not everybody is on the same page. Just as we face the most difficult times human mankind has ever encountered we seem to be divided over how to approach the situation between those who advocate progress and open connections and those that want to pull back and favor isolationism.
Recent signs of confusion and divisions can be found everywhere, and there always seems to be a politician at hand to exploit the situation. Take the closely contested “Brexit” vote in the U.K., which will influence the European Union. Or take Austria: Its presidential election is splitting the public vote in half between those favoring an environmentalist and those favoring a neo-Nazi-influenced right-wing fundamentalist. Or take the failed military coup in Turkey and how it might further destabilize the Middle East. For an example closer to home, look at our own divisive state of mind and the resulting choices: “Trumpocalypse” versus “Hillaryianism.”
Pulling back and having an inward-looking attitude is simply not going to get the job done. The overdue tasks on resolving our own challenges do not exclude and excuse the fact that we can and must continue to accept a dual responsibility.
A Buddhist monk put it this way (paraphrasing): “We are acting like chicken bickering over a few morsels of food while ignoring that we might all be slaughtered soon.”
Time is not on our side. The longer we wait to become united and act decisively, the more difficult and expensive it will be to turn things into a positive direction.
1) Anholt discussed the Good Country Index during a TED talk. To learn more about the index and how countries are ranked, go to www.goodcountry.org (and no, the U.S. is not ranked No. 1; we’re No. 20).
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