Living in Chalon, it’s difficult and expensive to find newspapers in English so I signed up to get the Sunday Times on line. After reading my first edition last Sunday I felt depressed. Why?
The Tabac at the Pont St Laurence gets one copy of the Financial Times each day and I have been fighting with some unknown adversary as to which one of us gets there first to buy it. After losing out a number of times I gave up and purchased an on line subscription. As I have not read the paper in English on a regularly basis for almost a year my eyes are fresh.
First the ongoing stories about the shooting in Paris at Charlie Hebdo and two days later at a Jewish Supermarket and 17 people died. This leaves all Western Europeans feeling very vulnerable and afraid. What is the real answer as to why we have these apparently random attacks? How could people that are citizens of France turn on their fellow countrymen and kill them? Is it that they were never made fully welcome in the country and feel that it rejected them? It must be that they feel their real home is being attacked by us and it them against us. We have all got into thinking that force is the only way to solve our problems, instead of finding ways to share the Earth. Mankind has killed each other throughout history. We need to make a bigger effort to help them. At the same time I fully accept they also have to see that force is not in their interest either. We saw that appeasment of Hitler in the 1930’s led to the devistating WW2.
Then I read about Lake Chad in Africa. This lake has dried up over the last 50 years, due to climate change. 30 million people have lost their lively hood and are starving as they used to fish on the lake or use the water to irrigate their lands to grow crops. This manmade disaster is now blamed for the rise in power of Boko Harem, an Islamic Jihadist group who are trying to carve out an Islamic Caliphate in Northeast Nigeria as they have fed of the despair and misery of the people. A proposal has been made to build a canal across Africa to take water back to the lake to restore it but nobody can agree who will pay the cost. So nothing is happening. Then I read that the MPs in Westminster spent over a million pounds doing up their personal gym.
When I contrast this to our Gap Year, I get depressed. We have had a wonderful successful year. It was made all the more special and safe by the help and friendship of the people we met. We have had to depend on the generosity of strangers many times. I hope we in turn gave friendship, understanding and help to those we met.
The lesson I have learned on the Gap Year is that helping others is fun and good for you and makes a rewarding winning experience for all. We can make life hard or easy for each other by our responses and actions.
So why has the world not learned that we are all connected and when we take from another we all lose. So the people around Lake Chad lose because we won’t take steps to correct the damage we are doing to the environment as it is impacting them before us. Boko Harem might make the connection for us by attacking us.
It’s the same problem with IIAS, do they feel they have no alternative but to kill us as we are not working to solve why their lives are getting worse.
It seems that when we connect on a one to one basis our built in kindness and concern for our fellow man kicks in and we help each other. However, when we are dealing with people on a larger more remote level, we don’t make the same connection or apply the same values. As our mastery of technology grows, so does our ability to do good or harm increases exponentially. We need to realise this now.
We need to find a new way of managing our world so we work for the good of all and help solve the problems like those of the people around Lake Chad and Iraq and Syria. This can only be done at governmental and international level not individual.
But we as individuals make up our governments so therefore it’s our responsibility. We have to realise if one part of the world prospers and the rest lose, then we are all losers. The answers are not easy, the problems are complex. I for one was not even aware that the Lake Chad was disappearing. Hitler’s rise in power was linked to the depression in Germany caused by paying war damages to France after WW1. I don’t know yet how I can play my part. I am going to try to find ways to repeat the Gap Year experience in my life.