The Road Not Taken I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference. ROBERT FROST
This week’s political news made me think of roads not taken. I’ve been sickened by the celebrations by impulsive people of their populist ideas dressed to appear as a triumph of inspired decisions.
I was long charged by corporate mantra to shun cynicism while being encouraged to be a tad skeptical. These days, I struggle with sovereignty, considering it outmoded in our globalised world. That is not to say I shun culture or national identity. I’m Irish and damned proud of it. I’m European and damned grateful for the protections and opportunities that come from scale.
The colour of a passport has no meaning when foreign owned supermarkets sell bananas shipped from Costa Rica, tomatoes grown in Portugal and The Netherlands, plums imported from South Africa, figs dried in Turkey and many other items provided by a truly global supply chain. These foods were mostly grown, harvested and packed in a misery of conditions that will get worse if we prevaricate in our push to feed, water and house eight billion as they become twelve.
Sovereign control over human rights is like having Dracula guard the blood bank. That wasn’t a good idea when Dracula was first published in 1897. Over a century later, the world has lived through two world wars and hundreds of brutal regimes. We’ve had seventy years of ‘Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms’ and countries like Turkey are tolerated despite breaking many of the rules. Better in than out because the people breaking the rules can be held to account. One day. Maybe not soon but one day.
We need the higher authorities like ECHR to challenge the human rights abusers in Saudi Arabia, China, Turkey, Syria, Russia, Australia, USA, Venezuela, Iran, Israel, Myanmar, EU, Yemen … an incomplete list in no particular order. Ideally, trade should be both carrot and stick. One day. Maybe not soon but one day.
Human rights groups should still be calling for a single, global standard for human rights. Torture. Genocide. Rape. Protection for children. Potable water. Clean Air. These protections for Physiological Needs are required to get people off that lowest tier of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Elevating more people to the Safety Tier could be a goal for this decade.
Instead, we see that regressive issues around sovereignty and nationalism are driving populist demands. Even if the concept behind I‘m alright Jack was a little funny in 1959, such self interest among nations is shameful in 2020.
And don’t get me started on climate justice.
Caveat emptor: these are my daily musings which may be incomplete and/or incorrect.
Which reminds me of how very uncertain things remain in Belarus. Libran Writer reminds us that Svetlana Alexievich is the last remaining member at large of the non-partisan Coordinating Council of the opposition.