The world today is obsessed with economic growth and prosperity. Morally bankrupt politicians, like Donald Trump and Boris Johnson, have won the vote of the people in the name of greater economic prosperity. In the process, they have demonised and otherised anyone that doesn’t fit into their vote bank. On grounds of religion, they have contributed to widespread islamophobia. The xenophobic rhetoric employed against refugees has been deeply upsetting. As a race, therefore, we must evaluate where our priorities lie. Refugees are people escaping active and violent persecution in their homelands. These are people who don’t have access to basic human rights, let alone the privilege that accrues from economic prosperity. Are we really so far gone that the plight of these fleeing people is secondary to our attempts to ‘get rich’? For the sake of the lives of hundreds, I certainly hope not.
Admittedly, everyone wants a life of relative comfort and luxury. It would be wrong to hold this aspiration against people who have internalised the oppression that comes with capitalism. However, when the trade-off is sending back thousands of desperate men, women, and children to their death versus a few extra dollars of comfort, it is shameful that there even is a trade-off to consider. In truth, this should never even be up for discussion. The personal priorities of people aside, we must also recognise that we are not simply citizens of one country- What happens to those that live beyond our borders should also matter to us. To restrict our view to simply our own country festers ignorance. This ignorance can unwittingly aid and abet genocides as authoritarian regimes can continue to propagate their oppressive rule in the absence of being called out. Not all politicians are complicit. Democrat Representative Jim Mcgovern said at Northeastern University, “When the government discusses the United States’ interests in areas such as trade, military or economic relations with other countries, human rights should be a major part of the conversation.” It would certainly help the human race if we had more politicians like him.
Global political discourse needs to stop banging on the doors of a never-ending cycle of growth that has failed to bring welfare to the masses. Our discourse must evolve. In these trying times, our priority must not be money, but humanity. Human rights must come before economic prosperity when lives are stake. Political leaders, especially those from the Global North must shoulder this responsibility. State priorities must not come at the expense of our goals of establishing a mechanism that allows every human being on this planet access to their rights as laid out in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights.