It’s hard to imagine, comfortable as we are, that people are starving to death in many parts of the world. It’s even harder to imagine when you think about how many North Americans and Europeans die of diabetes, cholesterol, and obesity each year. Western countries are consuming too much food at the expense of the rest of the planet. Just to satisfy our appetite for meat requires vast swaths of agricultural land to fatten livestock animals. If we are what we eat, we are fast becoming fat cows and pigs.
Too many children suffer every day from hunger and malnutrition and die from a long list of preventable diseases. Children are still abused: They are used as slaves, as cheap labour, even as soldiers. The end result is potential lifelong trauma and damage to the development of our next generation. Humanity is destroying humanity.
Food isn’t the only thing that’s unevenly distributed: money and other resources remain in the hands of a few while millions still live on a few dollars a day in primitive conditions and without basic necessities such as clean fresh water. It’s fair to say that unfettered capitalism, consumerism, multi-national corporations, and the small percentage of billionaires with all the money and power in the world have caused this global social disaster. We are on a downward spiral. Our pet rocks and gardens receive better care than many people in developing nations.
And yet western powers rush to intervene in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, all in the name of democracy, freedom, and human rights. If this is really why we’re there, why has the west not intervened in Yemen? From where I sit, it seems pretty clear that decisions at this level come down to money, power, and privilege or, more accurately, the control of oil and resources.
This approach is so short-sighted. World leaders need to work together to build a better planet and make a positive difference. Social development and concern for humanity need to become top global priorities. We need to ensure that every child has a chance to live up to their potential, to thrive, and to enjoy a childhood unmarred by the greed of others.
The world can be a better place. Humans are supposed to be the most intelligent species on the planet. Political leaders just need to apply common sense and look toward a longer-term vision. This means sacrificing self-serving, narrow interests for the greater good, but it’s an investment that would pay huge rewards for everyone over the long-term.
Alex Sangha is a Registered Clinical Social Worker and Counsellor based in Surrey, BC. For more information check out alexsangha.com Alex is the recipient of the Meritorious Service Medal from the Governor General of Canada.