When intelligent people display ignorance of world affairs, such a poverty and global warming, I can’t help feeling they’ve put some effort into staying ignorant. If you don’t know or care about the suffering of other human beings, you won’t feel any compulsion to do anything about it.
Many of us are keenly interested in what will happen in Scotland next week, at the G8 summit. I’m afraid that all the emotional hoo-ha generated by Live 8, the so-called ‘anti-poverty’ international music event, may distract attention from the issues, rather than highlight them. The Edinburgh march may have some influence on the world leaders at Gleneagles, but the pressure needs to be continuous and widespread.
The G8 countries – France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, America, Canada and Russia – are, with the exception of Russia, leading industrialised nations with a strong influence in world affairs. The sticking point at their summit in Scotland next week, with world poverty and climate change on the agenda, is that the most powerful nation, America, is led by people who refuse to acknowledge the extent of these problems.
Which brings me back to my point about ignorance. It’s hard to believe that the American Government really doesn’t know what’s going on. If it didn’t, it would be like an old-fashioned king from a fairy story, whose courtiers maintain a delusion that all’s well when it isn’t, for fear of losing their heads if they tell the truth. But there are no kings in the G8, and as Nelson Mandela said, ‘It is not the kings and generals who make history, but the masses of the people.’ In the 21st century, so much information is available – through the media, the internet, and by world of mouth – that it’s impossible to keep us in ignorance, unless we choose to remain ignorant, and we masses can make a difference. If you don’t believe me, consider this; the abolition of slavery began as a mass movement; so did the end of apartheid in South Africa. If you think it’s wrong that one in six of the world’s population lives on less than 65p per day, or that global warming is already causing severe weather, don’t just sit there; do something. Write letters, send emails and faxes to the politicians, keep up the pressure. You don’t have to march to make a difference, but you will have to change your lifestyle. So don’t just sit there; do something.