Sun, July 14, 2024

'What really needs correction is our choice of leadership — people we vote to power'

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When the world has evolved so much and made technological advancements that support humankind, how is it that there is so much unrest and despair in the world? How was one pandemic able to displace economies around the world? What does it really tell us about the human capacity to think and prepare for the unknown, or I am even forced to think: was this a strategy? I look at the wars that are unfolding around us. I look at the natural disasters occurring worldwide. I look at the warnings of climate change. And, nothing speaks to me about human evolution. 

The 2023 Global Peace Index report reveals a concerning surge in global conflicts, with pre-existing tensions predating even the significant Russian invasion of Ukraine, touted as the most significant conflict since World War II. A stark increase in conflict-related deaths had already been observed prior to the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Notably, battle deaths spiked by 45% between 2020 and 2021, predominantly in the Asia-Pacific and sub-Saharan Africa regions. 

Internationalised conflicts have increased nine-fold since 2004. In fact, internationalised intrastate conflicts are now just as common as intrastate conflicts, reflecting a trend where over 80% of intrastate conflicts from 1975-2017 saw external support. 

Though military expenditure in terms of GDP witnessed improvements in 92 countries in 2022, overall military spending increased. The global average for military expenditure as a percentage of GDP shrank from 2.04 to 1.95%. While these figures may suggest reduced military focus, absolute military expenditure went up, especially in powerhouses like China, the US, and India where total expenditure increased by $180 billion, $70 billion and $40 billion respectively since 2008. 

(GPI Index and data source:

In times of increasing geopolitical tensions, economic disparities, political instability and climate vulnerability, I think of what anthropologist and ecologist, Michael Ghiglieri in his book, The Dark Side of Man, says: War predates humanity, that it is natural, and that it vies with sex for the distinction of being the most significant driver of human evolution. I however prefer what cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead said in her 1940 article: “Warfare Is Only an Invention—Not a Biological Necessity”. Because it speaks to me of the human’s ability to choose hope, compassion and wisdom. 

Perhaps what really needs correction is our choice of leadership – the people we vote to power and enable them to make decisions on our behalf.

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JUNE 2024

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