The robots helped build this place, why won’t they let us in?
We take a slight detour from our usual irrelevant talks to discuss a problem we are now witnessing. We don’t mean just the conflict in Ukraine but how we are handling and telling the story of this war. It's almost inevitable that humans get into battles and wars. The real test of humanity is how we behave and take action during such times. The battle for Ukraine has revealed an ugly head that we all know exists deep down but gets covered by superficial virtue signalling. It has revealed how we treat one another based on our circumstances, what we look like, and where we come from.
We have been observing the conflict in Ukraine for many years now as it has raged on with no immediate end in sight. At first, it was just a part-time interest of ours but after the annexation of Crimea, it became more serious as NATO intended to expand eastwards towards Russia. It was inevitable but the international community didn’t really take this seriously. It was the case of “Russia would never invade a civilized country”. And therein lies the issue and it was revealed in full-spectrum bias in the way people took action and in the news coverage.
This conflict isn’t something new to this world. We currently have a lot of conflicts with serious humanitarian crises all over but this is the one the world chose to care about. Why? Because it’s in Europe. It’s happening at their doorstep. The battles in Africa, South America, and the Middle East is happening far away, so no one needs to care about that, right? There’s hardly any news coverage and we don’t even know what the extent of the problems might be. These problems have created a migration issue as many of them take the most difficult trek of moving from war-torn districts, navigating dangerous paths, circumventing bandits and pirates, and handling the ferocity of mother nature herself through international seas with boats not designed for such waters, just to find safe havens in Europe, Australia or North America. They do this all on their own daily.
Our entire political landscape, including South Africa, are using the effect of migrants as election talking points on the local economy, safety, and general quality of life. The same narrative exists in the developed world so when they see migrants at their doorstep, they used every possible method to block, humiliate, and deflect human beings who need the help, many of whom are victims of war being waged by their own politicians.
When the Ukrainian-Russian war broke out, it was quite monumental how the international community got together, immediately opened up their borders, started sending money (including using cryptocurrency), and even opened up their own personal homes to house those affected by it but ONLY IF THEY WERE UKRAINIAN CITIZENS. The community around Europe ensured to help Ukrainians but made sure to maintain their bias against anyone foreign.
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This is unfortunate but not surprising. In times of war, when communities are pushed to a corner where survival is the first priority, they chose themselves immediately in a heartbeat. We can complain about the lack of humanity but in reality, this is who they really are.
What was worse, however, was how the war was being portrayed in the media. They couldn’t believe it was happening in a “civilized” place like Europe as if to say war that happens in poorer countries are expected and normal. It was a strange inhumane view that bombs dropped anywhere but their neighbourhood is OK.
The best take so far was Trevor Noah’s analysis of how the news portrayed this war:
What is the lesson here? People will always choose themselves and will do what it takes to take care of themselves when in need. This is something the developing nations do not do at all. These are nations that are often seen as victims of every circumstance possible but most of all, labelled and treated as victims BY OURSELVES. We accept this label, ruining our humanity, dignity, and most of all, our boundaries.
I’ve learnt something new in 2022: LEARN TO STAND UP FOR YOUR OWN BOUNDARIES.
If you want people to take you seriously and treat you with respect, it is YOU, who has to do that first before we can expect this from others. If we give up our personal space, self-esteem, and identity, then we cannot expect others to treat us the same. It’s simple as that.
The lesson here is clear, what we are witnessing is nothing new and not surprising but we have to change ourselves to make the changes we want to see in the world. My view is to do the following:
Learn to build and sell. We are so dependent on products overseas we don’t support our local economies at all. We built a consumer-driven culture that is driving our debts through the roof. We need to become a net-exporter economy.
Accelerate our ability to become energy independent. This means our transition to renewable home-grown energy is the key. Africa, for example, has more than enough physical space to take advantage of wind, sun, and tidal power. Anytime there’s a problem, it affects the oil price and eventually the cost of putting fuel in our vehicles. Whether we are part of the problem or not, the aftermath always becomes a problem for us to deal with.
Financial Independence. I don’t know about you but I’m tired of our currency (the South African Rand) fluctuating every time someone’s toupee falls off in Iceland. The advent of cryptocurrency could be a positive boon for the African economy and move us away from the dependence on fiat currencies that ties so much of volatility that we are not responsible for at all.
Protect our boundaries. Like what happened in Ukraine, choose ourselves first. In order to participate in the global economy, we give up so much of ourselves to please the developed nations who pretty much only care as long as more money is available to them. You will notice, when there’s a war, economic downturn or if the money runs out, they are the FIRST to walk away. This is an example of protecting boundaries. We need to do the same. Does it work for us? If not… walk away. There’s so much we can give to this world but only if you recognize the value that YOU have in this world.
YOU are valued. OWN it. Skilled people from developing nations built up and contributed to what we all call “the developed world”. The constant narrative is they built it and therefore their own. There is no ownership in what we are helping build. This cannot continue. Without the developing world’s hard work and skills, it would crumble. They know this, you don’t.
Protecting your boundaries does not mean to exclude. It means to value what is important and exclude the ones that do not. Protect the ones you love and the ones that give a damn about you.
Stop expecting others to change for you. Be the change you want to see in the world.
Two thoughts that came to mind reading this.
1. I (emphasis on I) thought that Ukraine was a third-world country! Finding out that first-worlders are calling it civilised was a bit of a surprise. But that feeds into what you are saying that we assume at different levels that being invaded is something that only third-world countries invite, but we fully accept that first-world countries can happily invade whoever they want, which is an even worse thing to collectively think!
(the terms "third-world" and "first-world" are probably just as derogatory as "uncivilised" and "civilised" but I couldn't immediately think of better alternatives.)
2. I do like what you say that "people will choose themselves" as they rightly should. When everyone chooses themselves from a position of power, they don't need to put down anyone else. In fact, when you look around, you'll see that the really powerful don't have any need to prove that they have power.
I realise that you didn't literally mean that people choose themselves individually in this context but choose people who look like themselves. The problem as it stands is who you (and others) see as not yourselves (and themselves). If you think "ooh, a person who looks like me because of their skin and facial features", you're going to choose less people who are like you than say if you think "ooh, a person who looks like me because they walk on two legs and are humanoid".
A potent question to pose to people in this time is, "Are you someone who chooses to be sympathetic and helpful to other people based on their pigmentation, nationality, or other arbitrary trait, or would it be based on the fact that they are human or from Earth, just like you?"