We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children
(Native American proverb).

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Greed, for want of a better term...

Today I spent the day with my family. Nothing unique, but sometimes the greatest clarity comes in the simplist of tasks or most common of days. We spent the day in Sydney at the Powerhouse Museum. The EcoLogic exhibit displayed in large type on one wall that 86% of the world's resources are consumed by 20% of the world's population. This is nothing new; I first heard a ratio similar to this at university in the early 1990's nearly 20 years ago. The troubling part however is that back then it was more like 80:20, rather than 86:20. But really, this is mere semantics. Why would we split hairs over a paltry 6%. Surely the real issue is the huge discrepancy between those who have and those who do not.

As a father, I spend a great deal of time with my wife trying to teach our sons the importance of sharing, to live together in harmony, and spurn greed (ironically, something also discussed at the museum today in their exhibit on the 1980's where they quoted those immortal words so poigniently delivered by Michael Douglas in the movie Wall Street: "Greed... is good. Greed works."). In my last post I alluded to the double standard that exists in relation to opportunity in our country. This really is but the tip of the iceberg however. We are rapidly becoming one of the most prosperous nations on earth, and with the freedom this brings come responsibilities. How can we, as a nation, celebrate that we have escaped the GFC better than nearly all other OECD or G20 nation and not have an increasingly signficant role to play in global humanitarian and refugee operations? Yet our first response is to pass the repsonsibility of illegal entries to one of the world's newest nations; one that still struggles with their own ethnic and economic chasms; one that we still push our own interests upon in our economic use of offshore oil and gas fields. If any country can afford to accept, support, train and assist those fleeing religious, political, economic or any other persecution, we can, and increasingly so. Anything less is nothing less than greed. We have it good, really good, and yet we are collectively reluctant to "share with the other kids" in our region.

It's a simple issue and simple solution yet our response is just mean spirited and so politicised. When the Howard Government unveiled its Pacific Solution it was met with widespread condemnation. Now the Gillard Government is trying a similar approach, people are generally applauding it, but really, it is more of the same with a different wrapper. So we're short of skilled labour, but have thousands knocking down our doors and being turned away or told to wait. Can't we build an education revolution by training refugees to fill our shortages? Won't that inject stimulus money, solve a skills crisis, provide hope and maybe solve the unsolvable.

Keeping the world for those for whom nobody else will.
Earth Keeper

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