Political Scientist Benjamin Barber discusses the importance of each citizen in solving global issues
Some of the most important issues affecting people todayâdisease, terrorism, climate changeâare not defined by region, but instead are global problems. Thatâs the take of political scientist Benjamin Barber, who spoke Wednesday night on The Ethics of Global Citizenship at St. Petersburg College in Seminole.
Barber began by illustrating just how connected the United States is to the rest of the world. He said that many Americans focus on the borders that outline the cities, states and country in which they live.
âWe live in an interdependent world! And it would be just as foolish to say, âDown here in Tampa, weâre sick of Florida. Weâre just gonna make Tampa do things its own way, weâre not going to be dependent on anyone else. Weâre gonna make everything, and get our own foodstuffs and energy from Tampa.â That would be absurd! But itâs equally absurd to say the United States can do it. Interdependence is a reality. And once we recognize it, we can begin to solve problems, where as when we donât, we actually create a deep hole out of which, in time, it will be impossible to climb.â
Capitalism in America has become driven by global marketplace. Barber said the division between international products and American products has blurred.
âI hear people sayingâand I understand it -â âDrive American. Buy American cars like the Chevy.â Except the Chevy is made mostly in Mexico and Canada, with 75% parts from elsewhere in the world. And Japanese carsâlike Toyotaâare made largely in the United States with quite a lot of American parts. So which is the American car? The Toyota made in the states? Or the Chevy made in Mexico. How do you drive American? You donât! There is no automobile today that has Japanese or French or American blood in its metals.â
Barber was critical of the media for a lack of global news coverage. He said citizens must understand the world as a complex, interdependent community.
âYouâll see a story about Iraq and Afghanistan, because Americans are dying there. But when did you last see a serious story about Somalia? About Uganda? About whatâs happening with climate in the Himalayas. With how Singapore has a housing policy that subsidizes for 80% of the population, ownership of their apartments. Anyone read about that? We hear things like theyâre all socialists over there. Or those are foreigners. Or we Americans donât have to care about that.â
Barber even suggested that left-leaning MSNBC and right-leaning Fox News should merge as one network, leaving the American people with healthy debate and a blend of views from both sides of the isle. Elitist rhetoric that sometimes creeps into political discussion is something Barber says is hurting the world view of America.
âThis is a great country, I love this country. But when our politicians keep screaming âWeâre number one! Weâre the greatest country in the world!â The problem with that is that even the greatest country in the world has to live in a world with a lot of other pretty great countries and pretty bad countries and to do that means you have to cooperate and work with them. And waving your own flag and saying âWeâre number one.â And we donât have to deal with anyone else, we donât have to talk to anyone elseâ¦ is destructive to America! Not to the world, to America.â
Barber says the only way for society to progress is for people and politicians to find common ground and respect one another. Democracy will not work without the people.
âIt means if youâre pro-life, understanding that there are powerful and important arguments women have to make about the control over their own bodies, but it also means if youâre pro-choice, to understand that for many, life does begin at conception. And thatâs important. And itâs not a good position against a bad position, its two important values.â
He says America is becoming a âbeautiful tapestry of people and culture.â; A country that resembles the people of the world better than any otherâ¦ and this should be embraced as a strength, rather than ignored and rejected.
More about Barber at BenjaminBarber.com.comments powered by Disqus