Sunday, September 26, 2021

There are leaders who can inspire. We just have to look around.

Here in the USofA, we probably feel that inspirational political figures are in short supply. Our system is creaky; even ethically right-thinking pols are forced to trim their visions in the hope of getting anything accomplished. So let's look around a bit.

The United Nations General Assembly meeting -- infelicitously pronounced "UNGA" -- is something we are accustomed to ignore. At the opening of each session, every national political leader who wishes to is allowed to make a speech, thereby reaffirming the body as representative of all the countries of the world. That's 193 states at present, a lot of speeches. Joe Biden gave one -- I doubt you noticed.

But thanks to Adam Tooze, I became aware that the wonderfully named Prime Minister of the island nation of Barbados, Mia Amor Mottley, schooled the assembled dignitaries in what the world really needs -- at least if anyone was listening. 

Here she is -- a little longer than what I usually post, but totally worth hearing.

A few points -- she knows that if the United Nations is to be worth attending, it has to be changed from its post World War II shape to something new:

• How many times will we have a situation where we say the same thing over and over and over, only to have it come to naught? 
• How many more deaths must it take before 1.7 billion vaccines in the possession of the advanced countries of the world will be shared with those who have simply no access to vaccines?

• How much more global temperature rise must there be before we end the burning of fossil fuels? ... We are waiting for global, moral, strategic leadership ...

• How many more crises and natural disasters before we see that all conventions of aid mean that assistance does not reach those who need it most and those who are most vulnerable? It is not because we do not have enough. It is because we do not have the will to distribute that which we have. And it is also because, regrettably, the faceless few do not fear the consequences sufficiently.

• How many times must great needs be met simply by nice words and not have before us the goodwill that is necessary to prevent militarism and nationalism? ... this age simply resembles that of a century ago. ... Our world knows not what it is gambling with. ... this fire will burn us all down. ... This is not science fiction.

• In the words of Robert Nesta Marley, who will get up and stand up for the rights of our people? Who will stand up in the name of all who have died in this awful pandemic? ... Who will stand up not with a little token but with real progress?

• If we can find the will to send people to the moon -- and to solve male baldness, as I've said over and over -- we can solve simple problems like letting our people eat ...

• Why don't we count who stands up in here ... [our people want to know] what is the relevance of an international community that doesn't listen to each other? ... Barbados calls and the people of the world ask, what direction do we want our world to go in? And not leave it to the faceless few who have worked so hard to prevent the prosperity from being shared.

• We need a new UNGA for the peoples of the world ... we have the population and the member states to send the signal of the direction we want the world to go in ... Let us do it in the calm assurance that those who live in great causes never ultimately fail, but we must summon the courage to do it. ... We cannot solve every problem in the world but must solve those in our purview, immediately.

 That's a woman to be reckoned with.

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