It’s been interesting moving to North Cyprus because suddenly, watching BBC World News, Al-Jazeera and EuropNews, you find a much wider world that we used to see in Australia. There it’s as if Australia’s the centre of the universe, when in fact it’s real importance is that it’s the sheriff for the US in the Asia-Pacific region.
Here in the Middle East we get to see the refugees in squalid living conditions, fleeing the ghastly civil war in Syria and families trying to survive in refugee camps where they’re all squashed together in one tent which leaks in the rain and has no protection against the ravages of winter cold and snow. We get reports of the suffering of the Palestinian people squashed into the tiny area of Gaza and trying to survive the Israeli blockade and regular bombings of the crowded nation. We get reports of children sick and dying in little villages in Nigeria where people are digging up gold, getting covered in the lead from these operations leading to illness for young and old alike. Only there aren’t so many old, because they die young or very young in these villages. That’s if the babies aren’t brain-damaged from the lead prevalent in their surroundings.
Why am I mentioning this? Because I’ve just seen one of those selfish posters on Facebook calling for isolationism, only “looking after our own”, decrying overseas aid and complaining about those wretched refugees and asylum seekers who turn up on the shores of Western nations seeking a better life than in their desperate home circumstances: refugees from the conflicts in Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and so on; refugees from the starvation of droughts where people eat dirt or twigs to try to assuage their gnawing hunger.
Let me say that I can understand people wanting better conditions for the poor, the disabled, the disadvantaged, the sick in our own societies. But the reason for poverty and suffering in Western nations isn’t the spending on overseas aid. It’s the billion-dollar tax evasion by the huge corporations like Amazon, Starbucks, and so on. It’s the billion-dollar subsidies for the armaments and industrial giants; the bloated subsidies for huge agribusiness in the US and Europe; the obscene spending on wars and conflict supposedly to protect Western people but essential to protect Western oil, mining and manufacturing oligarchies.
So I think it’s fine to target the real enemies – those within who gut our economies with their obscene greed and utter selfishness in their endless quest for mega-profits; or the armaments industries who grow fat on illegal wars like Iraq or the propping up of dictators like Saddam Hussein or Colonel Gaddafi or the House of Saudi in Saudi Arabia. Shut your hearts to them by all means. Demand they pay proper amounts of tax. Stop tax havens. In other words, fix the tax system properly so that those who can afford it pay, and stop the billions in subsidies to prop up inefficient agriculture giants who then sell their products for peanuts in Third World countries and undermine or destroy local producers.
But let’s NOT shut our hearts on or turn our backs to those in developing nations in desperate need, who are seeking the basic security of a roof over their heads, education for their kids, food and not starvation. And let’s not forget that all too often the turmoil in these countries is often the result of Western intervention or the legacy of Western intervention and exploitation in the past. Such intervention and exploitation has enriched our own nations at the expense of those whose resources have been plundered by mining and other multinationals; or whose people are being exploited now by big manufacturing corporations growing ever wealthier on the pathetic wages paid to people doing jobs exported from Western nations. And those jobs have been exported because the head honchos of those corporations don’t care about the destruction of jobs and communities in their own country, they are intent only on screwing people with the lowest possible wages and working conditions wherever they can find them in the world.
The world is getting ever smaller. We are on each other’s doorsteps. We can look into our neighbours’ lives and eyes wherever we live on this world of ours. So let’s not be suckered by selfishness and a short-sighted view of our global community. We can keep our hearts open, make sure we are well-informed of the truth, sheet home blame where it’s really deserved to the parasitical, blood-sucking minority who suck up so much of the community’s wealth, and offer love, compassion and aid to those in dire need of succour and a loving, helping hand.