• Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Brief Thought on Globalization

Bill McKibben, in Deep Economy, challenges the prevailing wisdom of globalization, claiming that it is destroying community rather than enhancing it. The cult of “more is better,” he claims, is having the unintended affect of making us less happy.”[1] At the same time, the relentless pursuit of more devastates poor communities around the world and takes a tremendous ecological toll.

One of my goals is to look beyond the question of what we can do to raise the standard of living of the poor (although, of course, that is essential) to ask the more difficult and challenging questions regarding our responsibility and our future well being. Are we willing to change our lifestyles so that others can move beyond poverty and so that the tyranny and seduction of consumerism will not numb us to the simpler joys of life?

McKibben focuses attention on the value of the local. “It’s enough to say that, for reasons of ecological sustainability and human satisfaction, our systems and economies have gotten too large, and that we need to start building them back down. What we need is a new trajectory, toward the smaller and more local.”[2]

I agree with McKibben. Buying local, participating in Community Supported Agriculture programs, and other efforts can be very helpful and satisfying. However, I would hate to think that we would become so local in our thinking that we forget about the rest of the world. After all, globalization is not all bad. It creates the opportunity to learn from people of other cultures, it makes us aware of the richness of diversity, it challenges us to be responsible with what we have and to care what others have (or don't have). It has generated the resources to lift millions of people out of poverty.

The debate about globalization is difficult. However, it is here to stay. So, how do we move find this new trajectory about which McKibben speaks and at the same time embrace the globalization that brings with it such incredible possibility?

[1] Bill McKibben, Deep Economy, 35.
[2] Ibid, 141.

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