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An article by Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys:
religious, and economic:
After President Trump's speech to the United Nations on 2018-SEP-25, I wrote a Letter to The Editor of my local paper pointing out that globalization is here to stay, even though there are some people -- like our president -- that don’t like the idea!
I got some nasty responses back.
- A woman commented that we don’t believe in Globalization. I replied that Globalization, like the Theory of Evolution, and Climate Change have nothing to do with belief or disbelief. They are realities. Neither disbelief nor belief changes the nature of reality.
- A man commented that it was all a Democratic-Liberal plot to destroy the lives of working Americans. I pointed out that he was wrong.
There is a great deal of ignorance about what Globalization is, and what caused it.
Globalization is the result of Capitalism. In a capitalistic system there are two classes of people, Consumers and Producers. Both groups are responsible for creating Globalization. It is a process that can temporarily be set back by isolationism and nationalism. However, it cannot be stopped. Globalization will continue with or without our full participation.
The Consumers are all of us that buy goods and services. We are constantly demanding more, better, and cheaper products of a greater variety. We create the need for the Producers to look to global markets for new and cheaper suppliers of goods and materials.
Producers are the suppliers of capital. The business decision makers are constantly looking for ways to maximize and increase profits, while meeting the demands of the Consumers. There are ONLY three ways they can do this:
- They can lower costs to produce their products;
- They can raise their prices (which Consumers don’t like); OR
- They can find new markets to sell more of their products.
A reader of my Letter to the Editor stated angrily that the workers are the real producers. He is correct in that they mine the raw materials and make the goods. Here I am defining the Producers as those that supply the capital and make all the business decisions: the owners and corporate bosses.
There are two ways Producers can lower their costs. They can find cheaper suppliers for materials OR they can lower their labor costs. Finding cheaper suppliers means they might --and many do -- look to other countries for their supplies. Some Producers have to do this because what they need simply can’t be found in the US -- things like rare earth minerals that go into electronic equipment.
To lower labor costs, they look for ways to lower wages and benefits paid to workers. So, we see the Trump administration removing wherever they can laws that placed limits on what Producers can do, including:
- health and safety standards for workers;
- union bargaining for wages and improved working conditions;
- Environmental Protection laws that protect workers (and all the rest of us, but which add to production costs);
- requirements for Health Care benefits, etc.
When these options are not available in the US, they move their production facilities to other countries where the protections for workers and the Environment are non-existent or not as strict.
All of this has been aided by the advances in communication, education and transportation systems and networks, which have been driven by the demands of both Consumers and Producers. These advances have removed man-made boundaries and brought our world closer together. This facilitates business transactions, opens new markets to Producers, and brings new and cheaper products to Consumers. These advances have created global supply chains that bind us all together.
One downside to globalization are some things that can’t be stopped; they can only be managed: Pollution, Climate Change, Disease, Wars and the problems they spawn. They don’t respect man made boundaries or walls. If we fail to deal with these issues, we do so at our own peril.
As a result of globalization, we -- or at least many of us -- have had the opportunity and pleasure to meet and learn about people from very different parts of the world that we might otherwise never have met on the streets in our villages, towns, and cities. This has removed much of the misinformation and stigmatization about people from other cultures, and of other ethnic and religious traditions. Many of us have learned that people are people the world around, no matter what their race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or lack of religion. We have also become aware that we are all in this together. Somehow or another we all have to learn to get along IF we are all going to have the chance to survive and thrive.
What has all of this to do with Religion?
There are many connections.
- Our world, and now our countries, are more diverse than ever -- ethnically, racially, religiously. Somehow, we all have to learn to live with this great diversity.
Some religions create an "us versus them" climate, in which we are the good guys, and everyone who isn’t like us are not just bad, they are evil! These faith groups keep us from developing the good working relations needed to facilitate global business transactions and facilitate international cooperation needed to deal with the problems caused by Pollution, Climate Change, Disease and Wars.
- Religious and/or Ethnically driven Civil unrest and Wars interrupt global supply chains. They damage local environments, destroy valuable infrastructures, and create masses of refugees that put strains on other countries resources.
- Religious leaders that deny realities -- globalization, climate change, evolution, the need for higher education -- hinder the development of strategies and procedures that can deal with all these issues.
Basically, religions and their leaders can become part of the solution or they can be part of the problem by keeping our people from progressing and adapting to the changes that have come our way and will continue to come our way.
Religions have served several purposes over the centuries. I wrote a two-part essay about this in 2015, titled "Do We Still Need Religion? About the functions performed by religions." The first purpose was to help people make sense of what often seemed to be a chaotic and senseless world. We have learned more about the world and how it works, about people and societies and how they work and have had to adjust our world views accordingly. Religious leaders can choose to help with this, or hinder change.
A second purpose was to provide a community for people to be a part of. Most of us no longer live in homogenous communities. Some may isolate themselves in their immediate neighborhoods. BUT they still have to do business in the wider community and that means interacting with people that are different. Our sense of who is and who isn’t a member of our community needs to expand. We need to see ourselves as part of a global community. Again, religious leaders can help or hinder with this.
A third purpose was to provide rules to govern the behavior of people in our community so we could live in some sort of harmony for the benefit of everyone. These rules must change as our communities become more diverse. They must respect the religious, ethnic and cultural differences and basic rights of other people. Again, religious leaders can help or hinder with this.
Religions and their leaders can be a force for progress, helping their people and societies move forward or they can hold them back and allow other countries the opportunities to reap the benefits globalization brings. Religious leaders can keep their country from addressing the problems that don’t respect isolationism, nationalism, intolerance, prejudice or any particular set of religious/cultural beliefs or disbeliefs.
Author: Contributing Editor Susan Humphreys
Original posting: 2018-NOV-18
Latest update: 2018-NOV-