When Prosperity Is Built on Poverty, There Can Be No Foundation for Peace, as Poverty and Peace Don’t Stand Hand in Hand
Susan and I were walking through Siem Reap, Cambodia, two summers ago and it was oppressively hot and humid outside. The city center has a pristine, lively section of bars, restaurants, and hotels (with air conditioning, cooled-water swimming pools surrounded by fruit tress, and state-of-the-art bathrooms), which have recently been built to cater to tourists visiting the ancient temples—the remnants of a civilization in its former glory. But most of the society, as captured in a photo I took of a large neighborhood along the river that runs right through the metropolitan area, lives in abject poverty with no public utilities such as running water, sewage systems, electricity, or adequate ways to dispose of rubbish. International pressure keeps Cambodia from implementing environmental protections so that corporations can come in and exploit the cheap labor and natural resources without any reprisals as they try and tap the developing tourist and textile industry. The only places where the banks of the Siem Reap River get cleaned are in the consolidated tourist areas of the city. Susan and I have witnessed poverty like this all around the world, and my trip to India, the planet’s most populated democracy, was the most traumatizing as the extreme poverty and human indifference in a country of 1.241 billion people is on a scale that is devastating beyond belief to any caring soul in search of reason, hope, and peace. Gandhi would be appalled that the old empire he sacrificed his life to displace has been replaced with new feudal lords.
KeywordsWorld Trade Organization Credit Default Swap Transnational Corporation Cheap Labor Global Civil Society
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.