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SPEAKING OUT:

Reality Check

"I am perplexed at the direction which we have unanimously accepted as the only way forward."

by Pablo Ouziel
Are we so adamant in our belief that capitalism is a safe model of coexistence, that we do not feel we have a right to claim the preservation of our environment and everyone’s human rights?

Sentiments and opinions vary from person to person, city to city and country to country, so one cannot attempt to frame the issue of collective responsibility or awareness towards current affairs, without acknowledging first, that any assumptions or conclusions made cannot in any way capture the sentiment of every individual in the vast world in which we cohabit. Therefore, without assuming that I know what you think, I can, however, share with you what I am seeing, with the personal hope that we will all wake up to the folly which, through our collective collaboration, we are allowing our governments, banks, corporations and the military to perpetrate.

Sooner rather than later, we must all take a deep look into ourselves and evaluate those values which were indoctrinated into us from a very early age, through our faiths, religions, education and social interaction. Then we must confront our social reality and evaluate individually if our beliefs are parallel to our reality. One cannot in any way pretend to be an old fashioned moralist, for that would be counterproductive to collective objectives. The only thing one can do is to write as a human being concerned about our present and our future, in an attempt to find those out there who share similar concerns and are willing to do something about it.

I am perplexed at the direction which we have unanimously accepted as the only way forward. As we debate in our streets the need for peace and a healthy environment, we see daily our governments and corporations pushing forth a rhetoric of “justified” aggression, and we watch, with arms crossed, our corporations ruining the remains of our environmental heritage without a strong enough collective of concerned citizens saying "Stop!" Are we too cowardly? Are our arms tied? Are we so adamant in our belief that capitalism is a safe model of coexistence, that we do not feel we have a right to claim the preservation of our environment and everyone’s human rights?

These are just a few questions which one can raise when simply observing human interaction. The list could fill a whole book. However, what matters here is not so much the issues which are streamed into our lives through the effective communicative work of the mass media in all forms, and with varied of objectives; what truly matters is the stance which we take individually—and hopefully united—against the adversity which an accumulation of destructive policies and actions are brewing in our environment. Of course, that is a hard position to take when, as a collective of people, we have lost all interest in the major issues creating destruction in our planet. Instead, we find ourselves confronting political systems with corrupt foundations, an outrageous disparity between the wealthy and the poor, and a military establishment which every day gains more power to destroy and kill.

Looking at the events unravelling around us: world economies coming to a standstill, with millions expected to lose their homes across continents; the clear misery of millions of people finding themselves involved in current “theatre wars”; the cries of millions of people going hungry as speculators recover the losses of the last financial bubble by speculating on food; and the increased monitoring and surveillance which we are enduring in order to feel "safe." It seems like now is a good time to sit, reflect and question the direction humanity is taking, and—more importantly—ask ourselves whose interests it all serves.

If we ask ourselves that question, and we opt to unite with our neighbours to do something about this, then our world can look very different. Let us stand together, let us reject political systems in which only those with corporate and media support are able to become presidents, let us force our militaries to disarm and make their bases into museums of the folly which humanity—until the early stages of the 21st century—was unable to eliminate. Let us work together to make sure that we do not lose our homes, and our neighbors don’t lose their homes. Let us not accept the idea that saving banks is the way to save our standard of living; let us use taxpayer dollars to save individuals with names and histories, not corporations whose only history is one of accumulation of wealth while others were and are starving.

We can accept capitalism and political corruption as the established way forward, and through it try and solve the issues confronting society, in the hope that the next elected president will put aside his respect towards his corporate backers and will work for the benefit of the whole of humanity. Or we can outright denounce the very structure of the political system. We can continue supporting the militarization of the whole world, with the obvious increase in conflicts which this path entails, or we can collectively demand disarmament—something Einstein was conscious enough to suggest four days before his death.

Let us begin to at least question whether we might also individually be morally guilty of crimes against humanity; for our silence, our indifference and our acceptance of the current state of the world.

At the end of the day, everyone is free to reject what I am saying or to classify it in their brain as something utopian or naïve, but one must be honest with oneself and at least acknowledge that as a collective we do not seem to be on the path to world peace, a healthy environment, and democratic freedom. In fact, for those who felt democracy was the norm, dictatorships and police states can be observed on the horizon, our environment's condition is more critical every day, and wars are increasing in number and in destructive capacity. Granted Bush should be tried for crimes against humanity, but please let us stop dwelling on his responsibility, and let us begin to at least question whether we might also individually be morally guilty of crimes against humanity; for our silence, our indifference and our acceptance of the current state of the world.


Pablo Ouziel is a sociologist and freelance writer.


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This story was published on May 28, 2008.