Monday, May 20, 2019


John Riminton.

Scene:  The living room of a middle-class New Zealand home
Actors:  A father and his 13 year old son Flynn.

Flynn:  "Dad, our teacher told us that we were to prepare for a big project on globalisation after the holiday. Do you know anything about that?
Dad:  What do you think he means?
Flynn:  I think he's on about everyone in the world working together but I don't see that happening, I mean, everyone lives differently.
Dad:  Quite right but we need to start somewhere.  Why do you shout for your school when they are playing someone else?
Flynn:  Come on...because it's my school.
Dad:  Yes. You feel you belong.  It's like tribes and nations. If we were Maori we would support our iwi against other tribes; as New Zealanders we don't want Australia to win the World Cup, and that's the way it has been since humans were just hunter-gatherers – belonging is an important part of our nature: tribes, towns, religions, countries. that went on steadily until about a hundred or so years ago.  Do you know what started to change everything then?
Flynn:  Not really. Was it the Industrial something?
Dad:   Well, four really big things have changed in the last hundred and fifty years and they started when quick communication was invented and information did not have to be carried by someone on horseback.  That led to a new global economy controlled by so-called market forces. Now we have instant global communication through the internet and fast travel, The internet allowed scientists to develop computers and share their information. That led to global science,  global surveillance, robots and things, and now this changed world is threatened by global climate change.
Flynn:   Yeah, I have heard of all that but apart from the climate, those other things are all good, so what's the problem?
Dad:  We haven't yet got rid of our need to belong to some group where we can share, talk  in the same language and understand what makes each other tick – like you shouting for your school or people working together in a stock exchange where they live by the minute, all of you thinking short term.
Flynn:  Yeah, I can see that but what has that to do with globalisation?
Dad:  Well, although we have a global economy, countries still think mostly of their own interests. I have been watching the internet news about the row between America and China over trade;  the Middle East is a mess of competing groups and there are lots of arguments about ways to generate the energy that we will need if we are able to carry on as we are now. But the one thing most scientists are agreed upon is the inevitablity of a climate change that will make all these other things irrelevant because that will dominate everything.  The others are all global problems that we don't have a global government to deal with and, anyway, most countries don't want to be told what to do by somebody else. So how are we going to set up global control to sort out the  big one?
Flynn:  Yeah, I am beginning to see that this will be one big project next term. I wonder what the teacher will be trying to tell us.
551.   May, 2019.

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