Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably well-aware of the ongoing world economic troubles currently known as the ‘Eurozone Crisis.’ Given its global implications, it’s completely warranted that the situation would receive the high-profile, worldwide coverage it has seen for months now.
Further substantiating the global relevance of Europe’s recent economic woes, IMF director Christine Lagarde, in a recent CNN interview at the World Economic Forum in Davos, succinctly characterized the situation in Europe as “everyone’s problem.”
While I completely agree with her assessment and wouldn’t argue the potentially devastating global effects of a Eurozone disaster, what I’m taking issue with is the lack of attention and urgency toward other potentially disastrous situations that I would also characterize as “everyone’s problem.” These include, but unfortunately are not limited to: the impending civil war in newly-independent South Sudan, the rocky transition to democracy in Egypt, the ongoing fighting in Libya, and the continued violence perpetrated by Somalian militants.
And that’s just Africa. I’d be remiss not to mention the violent repression in Syria, homophobic legislation in Russia, and tensions mounting daily between Israel and Iran over Iran’s nuclear program. These problems in faraway places (from an American perspective, that is) are also everyone’s problems, yet are being handled with markedly less global urgency than the Eurozone crisis.
As reprehensible as this dynamic is, however, it’s easy to see how it got this way: we pay attention to those areas where we think our national interests lie.
But what about our human interests? Unfortunately, those don’t acknowledge the imaginary lines we’ve drawn all over the globe; they tend to be urgent and everywhere. And if we don’t start tending to those, too, then achievements in pursuit of our national interests will do little to compensate for our moral deficiencies acquired in ignoring everyone’s ‘other’ problems.