February 6th, 2008
|09:55 pm - A renewed enthusiasm for global justice.|
You know, at the beginning of this year I was starting to think maybe I made a mistake in choosing this program (International Development and Globalization) to study in. It wasn't that I had lost interest in the topics and issues and it wasn't that I suddenly felt an apathy towards all the...injustice and inequality that was happening in every country, in every corner on this planet. It wasn't that I had suddenly felt I didn't care anymore about the billions of people suffering everyday from causes that were so easily solved. More-so it was...the contemplation that perhaps I wasn't strong enough to handle the endless onslaught of failures that seemed to plague every effort made by either NGOs, civil society, activists, organizations, individuals, etc. to correct injustices and truly set this world on a path towards a better future, one that can be enjoyed by the majority of the population instead of by the minority. A frustration that doing the "right" thing always - historically and today the trend continues - tends to be the harder way of doing things.
When a global set of values is deemed to exist, exemplified so beautifully by the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights and signed upon by 192 countries, yet atrocities of every kind imaginable still runs rampant...it's hard to convince yourself that these values are taken seriously and that the Declaration is but lip service, pieces of paper used to satisfy the masses in order so we don't outright revolt against the elite class of politicians and corporate CEOs (the line tends to get blurred and more often these days erased altogether). Poverty, hunger, curable disease, rich-poor gaps, rape, mutilation, torture, wars, human trafficking, genocides, massacres, the list goes on and on. How is it that in the 21st century, more than 60 years after "Never Again" that we still allow massive portions of our global citizens to wallow in such...inhuman circumstances?
Modernization theory, development theory, realist theory, liberalization theory, post-modern theory, post-development theory, neo-realist theory, neo-liberal theory, structuralist theory, critical theory, Marxist theory, Capabilities theory, linear theories, this theory, that theory, theory after theory after theory...and...? It's hard believe that these...scholars had the true interest of the poor in mind when after decades of a waterfall of theories...really...very little has improved for the poor.
So tonight, when I went to a presentation with a world-renowned ex-politician/activist/bureaucrat, even with his credentials and knowing he had a reputation for being passionate and sincere in his efforts in aiding the HIV/AIDs crisis in Africa, it was more for the opportunity to say afterwards that 'Yes I've seen him speak live'. What I wasn't expecting, however, was such a passionate voice that at times were shaking with held-back tears as he shared with us many of his personal experiences after working all his life first in the Canadian government, then as a UN envoy, and now a professor at McMaster university. Stephen Lewis...it is my first time, my very first time, hearing someone from such a high and respected position in society speak so honestly, sincerely, and without a hint of the b/s we are fed so consistently by others in such elite positions. Not a single university degree earned (though 26 honourary ones. Hmph, what b/s, these universities jumping on the bandwagon to have famous people linked to their institutions in any way, shape or form) and yet a presence and dedication that thoroughly earned my respect and completely renewed my motivation to continue in this field and make even a tiny contribution to a better future. So, seeing as it's late, I'll leave you with a sneak shot I took of Mr. Lewis as he was leaving (we were asked to refrain from snapping photos during his presentation as I'm sure the endless flashes going off would have left the poor man quite distracted and possibly blinded by the end of the night).
[EDIT]: Damn I wish I could have recorded that presentation...what I wouldn't give to see it again...and if any of you get a chance to see him live I recommend you take the opportunity with 150% enthusiasm! Take the day off work, skip a few classes, miss a few hours of sleep, whatever it takes, the guy's a blast. And if you're not one to sit through dry lectures that drag on and on and on, don't worry, Mr. Lewis' sense of humour was awesome, his encouragement to us to abandon our "lust for a university degree" and "settle for honourary ones" since all it takes is "a 7 minute preliminary speech" had us all cheering with joy~