I have not been able to avoid thinking about the tragedies that are currently taking place in today’s society and that can be eliminated or at least diminished. They are not just terrorists’ attacks like the one that occurred in Sri Lanka recently, but also natural disasters such as floods, hurricanes and earthquakes.
The list in the 21st century of natural disasters and attacks is very extensive: The cyclone in Idai just a few days ago that affected Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi where more than a thousand deaths occurred and more than 1 million people were affected; Somalia suffered the worst drought of the last 60 years in 2017, which touched more than 6 million people; Haiti’s earthquake in 2010 caused more than 200,000 deaths; in 2015 an earthquake shook Nepal with 8,600 deaths, and the list continues.
In this same century, fires destroyed millions of acres and disrupted the lives of scores of people, like the ones in Australia in 2003, Argentina in 2017, Canada in 2016, Portugal in 2003 and Greece in 2007.
In addition to all these events, 870 million people are affected by famine, and 1 billion people do not have drinking water. In many places, social and cultural exclusion still occur, and that can trigger attacks like the one that occurred in Sri Lanka and even one in Pittsburgh’s Squirrel Hill neighborhood. The effects of pollution on our environment and on ourselves are enormous since we keep destroying the environment day by day; the amount of plastics that pour into the oceans daily is enormous. In certain countries, serious corruption problems lead to wars, and large numbers of rapes and murders occur every single day.
Some people say there is not enough money to solve any of these problems. But, it was possible to raise the extravagant amount of $900 million in two days for the restoration of the fire-ravaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris — a fire that fortunately did not result in a single death. It took lots of effort and time to raise some millions after the 2003 earthquake in Haiti, which caused more than 200,000 deaths, and one in Nepal, which killed 8,600 people.
Unfortunately, we live in a society that shows a significant deterioration in the capacity for coexistence among human beings, and not only among us, but also with the environment. Many traditional positive values have been decreasing such as freedom, respect, solidarity and peace. However, the negative values of each human being have been increasing. Some of these values are competitiveness and selfishness, among many others. These values are causing a crisis in human coexistence and must be stopped.
Before returning to the positive values for our life, we need to create a new economy that builds positive values such as equality, solidarity and justice.
Forests burn every day for our unconscious acts, and we do not realize that they are the green lungs that we need. Their damage is irreparable once done. Buildings like Notre Dame can wait, but the ones who die of hunger, the animals and the sick cannot. Neither can our environment.
Let’s worry about the important things.
CRISTINA DEL DIEGO