Looking at the news as presented over TV over the last few days, I have come to the conclusion that we all worry and complain about various issues in (or close to) our daily lives, while we often disregard more important issues.
Let me avoid the ongoing European problems with national debts and poorly-managed banks. Undoubtedly these are very real problems with long-term effects, but I struggle to get my head around the various issues involved, not to mention any acceptable solutions in the short term.
No, I would like to contrast news items about (for instance) the expected level of Easter egg sales and resulting supermarket turnovers, the demand by unions that the board of Holland Casino should resign, the fact that Easter here in The Netherlands will be colder than Christmas, with other issues like the increasing level of aggressive posturing from North Korea and the ongoing (though not often news-worthy) looting of mineral resources by millions of illegal small-scale miners around the world.
Sure, it’s good for supermarkets to enjoy healthy business (and for us to know that there is no threat to the Easter egg supply) and we all like to complain about the weather. But surely the fact that a megalomaniac leader from a pariah state is waving his nuclear middle finger at us all, is more important? Or the fact that the USA deemed it necessary to fly a couple of bombers over the borders there and carry out military exercises with dummy bombing runs?
How about the fact that large numbers of people in many developing countries are participating in large-scale illegal mining, with no regard at all for healthy working conditions, environmental or social impacts, and without any contribution towards taxes and royalties. Even though usually presented as some sort of poverty-reducing, temporary activity for local people who lack other means of earning an income, it still amounts to stealing wealth from fellow citizens and even future generations in any particular country. And I would in fact contest those claims of poverty reduction and the temporary nature of such mining activities.
Well, I guess the world has problems that we cannot easily solve. But I choose to at least have an opinion on some issues that I think are important, and I am lucky to be able to participate in project work to help address some of these issues, albeit in a very small way.
Now I can go back to complaining about the current cold weather. After all, I have earned the right to do so by virtue of my Dutch roots and the warm South African soil where they were planted.
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