THIS WORLD of OURS

By Bob Harwood

Perspectives For A New World

 

In today’s world, issues can no longer be viewed through the limited lens of one’s culture, religion, country, or economic and social class. Attitudes must adapt to the ever accelerating pace. What is happening in brief years today in China, India or Brazil is analogous to the centuries during which the empires of Greece and Rome, Spain and Britain came and went. I wrote recently on how the life span of intellectual property protection crafted in the 1790s has failed to keep pace with this changed meaning of time. Lawyers become the principal beneficiaries in endless litigation. We need new standards for rewarding artistry and innovation, but in keeping with today’s meaning of time.

Far too much of our planning is done with an eye on the past rather than the future. The inexorable pace of climate change will wreak havoc for us, let alone our children, if we fail to respond appropriately. 2010 has been the hottest year on record with catastrophic floods in Pakistan, unprecedented temperatures in Russia and major natural disasters on every continent. China, albeit serving more than four times the population, has overtaken America as the #1 consumer of fossil fuels. But China is also positioning to take the lead in green energy technology. Summer and winter weather extremes everywhere underscore the growing impact of global warming. The ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico reminds us that oceans are deteriorating even more rapidly than the atmosphere. It is a wake up call to wean ourselves off oil altogether, not just foreign oil.

As I write gender equity is another very active, multi-faceted file. In many American families women are now the primary wage earners as well paid, unionized men swell the ranks of the unemployed. Yet average remuneration of women is just 70% of that of their male counterparts. Is it high paid union members themselves, now de-facto members of the middle class, who are becoming obsolete? Would a higher minimum wage for vast numbers of ordinary people be a more worthy priority? On July 15th Argentina passed a law enabling gay couples to marry and adopt children, the first South American country to do so. But on July 16th the Pope lumped in one proclamation the ordaining of women priests and pedophilia as sins against church doctrine. Social progress, on slavery, on apartheid, on women’s rights in the church or in Iran have always been uphill battles against tradition.

And in an interdependent world we must think globally, not retreat disastrously into protectionism in response to economic crises on our own doorstep. When I complain of some trivial inconvenience I pause to compare my lot with that of the vast majority of the world’s seven billion people. When I run the hot tap to get yet hotter water or the cold tap to get yet colder water I ponder the countless women who trudge miles daily to retrieve a bucket of water. We can no longer think in terms of my country, my class, my religion or my ethnicity, let alone my constituency. Studies project that in Canada my white species will soon become a visible minority. Just as Provincialism had to be set aside to build nations, now Nationalism must be set aside to build a better world.

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