Sunday, December 24, 2017
Embracing Globalization; Embracing the Human Family
Most people equate globalization with American imperialism, and who can blame them?
We sell weapons throughout the world.
We sell sneakers, iPhones, lingerie, and other products hardly helpful to most of the world’s population.
And, our ubiquitous advertising of these and other items offends many.
These are fair critiques.
But globalization can be viewed in an entirely different, more hopeful way.
Globalization also refers to the way people are more interconnected than at any time in human history.
We can know, understand, feel how humans live in distant parts of the world.
We have the potential to become a human family like never before.
Prior to World War I, most inhabitants of the earth had little or no idea about events occurring in the far corners of the earth.
Communication systems were primitive, news coverage limited, and global human caring lacking. The term, globalization, first entered the international lexicon as the Great War, as it was called, drew to a bloody conclusion in November 1918. The word was coined because the horrors of WWI exceeded all prior levels of violence.
WWI killed some nine million soldiers; it injured twice that many. Half the soldiers bodies were never identified, eliciting the concept of the “tomb of the unknown soldier.” It also brought the loss of noncombatants to new heights:
An estimated 20 million civilians were killed during the war itself. The Armenian genocide occurred concomitantly with it. First the Ottoman Empire, and and then the Republic of Turkey, systematically murdered 1.5 million Armenians between 1914 and 1917.
As if these horrors were insufficient, the subsequent Spanish flu epidemic killed 20 million people shortly thereafter. Further, because it resulted in the dissolution of several countries, WWI also displaced millions.
Although well-aware of the unprecedented dreadfulness of the Great War, humanity nonetheless managed to kill more soldiers and civilians, as well as commit industrial-scaled genocide of the Jews and other ethnic minorities, during and after WWII.
Still more millions became refugees.
These megadeaths (the term for one million deaths) were capped by the our use of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by mass killings of the Korean and Vietnam wars, and more recently by the seemingly-endless wars in the middle east which, in turn, have resulted in the greatest number of displaced persons in history.
We no longer have the excuse of not knowing or not caring about what’s happening in the world.
We do know.
We can care.
Earlier this week, Trump unveiled his shameful international relations plan. He plans for the US to compete with China and Russia. He furthered his regressive nationalism, his American First campaign.
The strategy creates isolation, selfishness, paranoia.
Trump seems unaware of the end of nationalism:
Nationalism implies an ethnic identity, a purity, a winnowing of undesirables. It elevated to its logical heights with Nazism. As long as we world citizens regress, and embrace the redundant, long-dead idea of nationalism, more violence and killing awaits.
Why is nationalism buried, done, gone?
Because international jet air travel, combined with the internet, melts away borders like never before. More countries are becoming ethnic, religious, and racial melting pots like us. They burst with varieties of humanity all sharing the same basic needs.
The extreme inter-connectivity of the world—growing exponentially as the nearly 40-year-old internet matures—invites humanity to cooperate like never before.
And, recent events prove it possible:
Just this past week, the UN Security Council, joined by former US foes like China and Russia, imposed new sanctions on Kim Jung-Un of North Korea.
In a world of competition, this would not make sense.
But no country wants nuclear war near its borders.
All countries agree that a nuclear exchange in the Korean peninsula would harm humanity as well as the planet which supports it.
Trump’s plan to move the US establish to Jerusalem offers another recent example of cooperation winning out over competition:
87 countries have embassies in Israel;
87 of them are in Tel Aviv.
Because the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel remains unresolved. The Jews claim they’ve been there for thousands of years; so do the Palestinians (who also believe their capital belongs in Jerusalem.)
In the last few days, the UN voted to condemn Trump’s Jerusalem stance in a strong, unified way:
128 countries voted in favor of the resolution rejecting Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, 9 voted against, and 35 abstained.
Most abstentions came from US allies afraid of the notice their vote from Trump would receive.
(The UN vote in no way condemns Israel, by the way; instead, it highlights an international problem requiring a patient, civil solution rather than a show of US domination.)
With greater cooperation instead of competition, the North Korea situation, the Israeli-Palestinian, the Syrian civil war, and countless sources of international tension could be resolved.
Perhaps even the thousands of nuclear weapons pointed at major population centers could be dismantled.
An ancient, well-worn opportunity awaits:
Why not embrace it?
Perhaps because, like occurs in the couples and families who consult depth psychotherapists like me, it proves easier to draw claws than to show vulnerabilities.
Globalization awakens all of us citizens of the world to the evils we humans can and do inflict upon one another:
Homo homini lupus
The human is a wolf to the human.
Must we be?
For all the risks of imperialism, oppression, and more, globalization also offers a way out:
Globalization’s greatest risk to humanity takes form as potential nuclear catastrophe.
Globalization’s greatest greatest gift to humanity takes form in the possibility for cooperation, dialogue, and ultimately, peace.
LET’S TAKE THE GIFT!
What a lovely if romantic hope on this snowy Christmas eve in Seattle…
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Alan Karbelnig, PhD, ABPP