During the days leading up to the G8 Summit in Calgary back in 2002, I found myself having to explain to a frightening number of people who should have already known just what it was that protesters were complaining about. Part of the problem was that many of the protesters didn’t know. I remember a big march through downtown’s Stephen Avenue Mall to the doors of The Gap, where several protesters took their clothes off. The main body of the protest had no idea what it was doing. I saw so many signs with George W. Bush’s head and the slogan Stupid White Man, but what did he have to do with the Gap?
But globalization is a strange force, and one that requires attention not just from the heads of the eight biggest industrialized countries, but from the people whom they represent, and those they do not. From a business perspective, we live in a world where business often becomes bigger than government, existing across the globe and accountable to nobody. A company can be headquartered out of the United States and have their operations in third world countries run through subsidiaries and intermediaries to ensure those two golden words, plausible deniability.
In many ways, globalization is a necessary and beneficial force. Putting past the existing barriers between the various races of man allows us to function for the benefit (or, admittedly, the detriment) of all mankind. That is, in my opinion, the only way we can progress along the three classes of civilizations) and embrace the future of our species. One of the great threats that I see is that it is not the altruistic who are leading this globalization, it is politicians and businessmen.
But I am getting off topic, pulled into flights of fancy by Michio Kaku’s words. I had intended on sending you off along a link to a fabulous article from Science-Based Medicine by Steven Novella entitled The Dark Side of Medical Globalization, which talks about a lesser known but equally dangerous aspect of globalization.
Ignorance is ultimately our enemy in all endeavors to the future. That can be embodied in the ridiculous “I SEEN IT WORK THEREFORE IT WORKS” mentality of the alt-med movement, the short-sightedness of politicians and business moguls, and the paranoia of the fearmongers, be they 911 Truthers, Zeitgeisters, Christians, or Mayan calendar hippies. But the good news is that we’re seeing more and more proof that there are pockets of humanity that can transcend this ignorance. Take for example the International Space Station, a collaborative effort from scientists from many different countries, or the way that people all over the world tend to band together to help out when a major catastrophe strikes. There is hope.
The point of this article is a reminder from me (and to me, too) that we need to rise above the petty differences. All these things that separate us need only be adjectives rather than barriers to a better, brighter future. But we have the responsibility to find ways to act on this. Government and business will not create the future we desire. It’s up to us.