I read an article this week on timbro.se that opened with the line,
“A EUROPEAN COW receives six times as much aid as the average African south of Sahara.”
It caused quite a stir – so much so that this article, written 5 years ago, is STILL being circulated. The article goes on to explain that while international aid programs look great on the surface, these countries still have policies in place that counter the aid (agricultural subsidies in the case of the European cow). These subsidies, trade barriers, and policies often impede the progress hoped for in international aid programs. Read the full article HERE. Sadly, in that 5 years since the article was written, not much has changed. Indeed, the gap between rich and poor has continued to widen.
The reason this article struck my attention, however, is not because it commented on these perpetual problems of unfair competition in the farming industry – it’s pretty standard news, but that their strategy for moving forward involves an important question,
“Should we stop talking about ‘developed’ and ‘developing countries’ and rethink development as a global process that affects all societies?”
The heart of Ubuntu has finally reached into the international development world and westernized societies are beginning to see that if one nation suffers, we all do. We would all fair much better if we worked together towards a global development strategy instead of looking at each nation as somehow disconnected and therefore not as important.
We must also be careful not to think these self-serving policies only occur in western development programs. Bring the context down to just within South Africa, down to your home town, and you will find the same problems. We think too often about only ourselves, our group, our cause. We must start looking outward and realize the interconnectedness of it all. There is space for all of us and we will accomplish so much more if we work together and build on each others’ strengths instead of trying to stomp others down for the sake of our own successes. If our goal truly is to transform and develop, then there is simply no space for jealousy and individualism.
I will leave you with a word from Bono,
“Deep down, if we really accept that their lives.. are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out. Its an uncomfortable truth.”*
*from Bono’s foreward in The End of Poverty by Jeffery Sachs