The leader of a major western country while recently visiting a Pacific Island nation asked the host Prime Minister if his country could export some of the peacefulness of his country to the world. The Pacific Islands might not have a lot of the material comforts that developed western nations have but they have one intangible commodity that nobody can ever put a monetary value on: peace. Peace is at a premium across the world. Media channels today carry more reports of killings, bombings, beheadings, rapes, abductions, wars and violence of every imaginable kind round the clock than at any time in the past.
It is understandable, therefore, that when terrorism weary western leaders visit countries like those in the Pacific Islands region, the thing that strikes them first is the complete lack of the need for security and the peacefulness of the environment and the people. But we live in a globalised world. Economies, trade, markets, labour movement are all increasingly becoming seamless. Political boundaries are being reduced to being just that – political. Everything else is becoming borderless. Consequently, distant developments are beginning to have their ripple effects across continents and oceans, thanks in good measure to information and communication technologies that are relegating notions of time and space to mere geographical incidentals.
Nothing in this world though comes without a double-edged sword. Environmental issues, economic crises and security have also become globalised. The Pacific Islands are bearing the brunt of the consequences of the western world’s environmental irresponsibility today. Sea levels are believed to be rising because of the continual pollution of the environment by western heavy industry for a century. In the past decade, we have also seen how the financial contagion spread to the globe to create the phenomenon of the global financial crisis, which still grips many parts of the world. Despite their remoteness, these events have adversely affected the Pacific Islands region and will continue to do so in many more ways.
A couple of developments of the past month are indicative of how close the peaceful islands are to the violence and mayhem that has gripped entire regions elsewhere on the globe. For one, the abduction of Fijian peacekeepers on United Nations duty in the Middle East brought home the point that even we in the Pacific are not immune to the menacing threat of global terrorism.
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• We Say is compiled and edited with the oversight of Samisoni Pareti.