A Dis-United Nations
COVID-19 presented the perfect opportunity to unite a fractured world. But no, we humans are just plain too egotistical sometimes, right?
I’m no apologist or even a major fan of the United Nations.
It is, without doubt, an imperfect institution that has come under sustained criticism from many quarters, particularly its health arm, WHO, and the way it has handled COVID-19.
There’s even a WIKI page dedicated to the wider criticism of the UN, although there are also Wiki pages on egg tapping (of course), a blood-vomiting game (actually less gross and more interesting than it sounds) and the concept of a global orgasm (maybe the only kind we can have in this time of social distancing)…oh, and on unusual pages on yup, you guessed it, Wikipedia.
But in the UN’s defence, what large governmental type institution is above reproach?
Despite misgivings I might have about the UN, I support the concept of an overarching organisation trying to bring some sense of global unity to an often fractured world, and also a major heads up to the hard work of the many arms of the UN as it tries to improve a range of global life outcomes, particularly in the developing world.
Cue: COVID-19, and a global challenge the likes of which we’ve not faced for some time.
I’ve always believed that the fear of the external threat (in my imaginative writer brain usually in the form of evil aliens trying to take over the joint, thanks HG Wells) might be the leveller that pulls humanity together to rise up and triumph.
Naive and pragmatically optimistic and dreamy of me, maybe, but still.
Unfortunately, I’m wrong, because while COVID-19 might be seen more as in internal threat that in turn threatens us externally, it has pushed many nations back super-protectively into their own little corners.
This is understandable to some degree as governments are running on quicksand trying to manage a deep economic crisis that has eventuated from the ways we have tackled the associated health crisis.
Nationalism’s Ugly Head
However, this nationalism was rising long before COVID-19. Think Brexit and Trump and China and Bolsanaro etc etc — Google it and half a zillion articles will pop up about this, with a particular right-wing conservative bent to it all, which makes sense given at the heart of nationalism lies protecting your own at all costs. The same nationalism that, taken to its extreme, led to a certain sad deranged little narcissist to drive a nation to rise and start a war based on anti-Semitism, white superiority and temporary nationalist insanity.
Calm down, I’m not linking old Adolf to any of our current leaders but those ugly swastikas have been appearing, even, to my disgust, in my own little country Downunder, too many times of late at rallies with nationalism at their core.
So, while you might see a lot of nations represented in the above picture, all smiling away, behind some (read: too many) of those smiles is the growing tension between a world so wildly interconnected because of a sustained period of globalism, from which major players are now trying to withdraw.
Good luck with that if you want to keep buying your cheap products, have access to pharmaceuticals from other nations that keep your populations healthy (those same nations, such as China, which might end up coming up with a COVID-19 vaccine before you — uh huh, didn’t think of that one, did you), and keep up your lofty standards of living so you can live your best lives…usually at the expense of others.
Add to this those supposed “superpowers (not-so-super — let’s call them “stupid-powers”) and their bullyboy (not being sexist but yeah, they’re mostly ruled by men) tactics in trying to retain their own power, and…
…We have a problem Houston…and in a whole lotta other places.
The Shit-Flavoured Icing on Top of the Cake?
It’s the interwebs, of course, and the cesspit of disinformation it holds and spews out, sputtering its filthy, lie-infused sewage all over the place.
Oh, and those in power who use all that murky nonsensical shit to make things worse: Here’s looking at you Messers Murdoch and Trump over your flagrant abuse of power as you push out COVID-19 propaganda about the pandemic originating from a Wuhan lab in what is a blatant and desperate attempt to keep painting China as the bad guy and prop up your respective empires, both of which are in flames.
And, even worse — this BS makes it harder for the world to pursue China around it being more transparent and open with the world about COVID-19.
Zero-sum game in extremis.
So long as the driving force of each of us is our ego, unity remains nigh impossible.
Therein lies the rub.
Therein lies why we remain “a disunited nations”.
It explains why nationalism always rears its ugly head, even when such is counterproductive to knocking out an external threat. So long as the driving force of each of us is our ego, unity remains nigh impossible. Unless we can set aside our egos or, at the very least, convince them that working with others might help more broadly with each of our egos intrinsic need to survive, we’re in deep doo-doo.
Hey, it’s Not all Doom and Gloom Though…Promise!
The UN might never be the overarching body some wish it was that instils a sense of shared purpose in its members.
And nationalism will always wax and wane so long as powerful personalities claw their way into positions of power to fan the flames of protectionism and fear.
We might always be a disunited nations because at heart we humans are driven by our egos as the inbuilt trigger to always protect our self over others.
But…I do have some faint pragmatic glass-half-empty-full hope that an even deeper mechanism exists in us all that realises protecting ourselves might only be possible if we also protect others.
That there will always be individuals willing to push against ego and pride and foolishness to instil at least some mild sense of global responsibility and care and unity across the planet. For example, I’m no fan of the current administration in Australia, but felt a sense of pride when I read the Morrison government was pushing back on Trump and his Wuhan Lab tinfoil hat conspiracy theory batshit craziness, which any astute observer of politics knows he is doing in the hope of reviving his flagging re-election hopes.
As with other challenges humanity has faced over the millennia we’ve roamed this earth, we’ll probably bumble our way through COVID-19 and maybe, just maybe, come out the other side just the teensiest bit wiser.
Maybe, just maybe.
Let’s chat on the other side and see how it pans out.