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Friday, December 31, 2004

In death, imperialism lives on

from the Guardian:

One of the most poignant sights of the past few days was that of westerners overcome with gratitude that they had been helped by the grace and mercy of those who had lost everything, but still regarded them as guests. When these same people appear in the west, they become the interloper, the unwanted migrant, the asylum seeker, who should go back to where they belong. A globalisation that permits the wealthy to pass effortlessly through borders confines the poor to eroded subsistence, overfished waters and an impoverishment that seems to have no end. People rarely say that poor countries are swamped by visitors, even though their money power pre-empts the best produce, the clean water and amenities unknown to the indigenous population.
Such events remind us of the sameness of our human destiny, the fragility of our existence. They place in perspective the meaning of security. Life is always at the mercy of nature - whether from such overwhelming events as this, or the natural processes that exempt no one from paying back to earth the life it gave us. Yet we inhabit systems of social and economic injustice that exacerbate the insecurity of the poor, while the west is prepared to lay waste distant towns and cities in the name of a security that, in the end, eludes us all.

Assertions of our common humanity occur only at times of great loss. To retrieve and hold on to it at all other times - that would be something of worth to salvage from these scenes of desolation.

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