In my mind, there are only two corporations that I am truly indebted to in terms of my complete devotion to their product offerings: Google and BBC. Google is easy: without Gmail and Google Reader, functionality as I know it would cease to exist. It’s not often that you come across services that are free AND life altering. I also love the BBC. Yes, they were the original creators of The Office, but that’s not the (only) reason why I love them. BBC is the news provider that I most trust and most identify with because every single day they remind me of my role as a global citizen. I think I can count the times that FOX has done that on less than one hand…
Today I was served a hot dish of reality when I was going through the headline news. Usually I skim and read the articles that catch my eye, but this afternoon’s news turned into hours of related research. I typically consider myself to be fairly informed, based on my efforts to at least try to keep up with world news. My reading today made me realize that gold stars for effort aren’t quite enough when it comes to social awareness.
Have you heard of the Tamil Tigers (or the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) of Sri Lanka? They’re a group fighting for independence from the Sri Lankan government, a divide largely driven by ethnic tensions. In my clearly effective skimming practice, I had encountered the name many times but failed to follow through to the articles. I finally read an article today and proceeded to investigate the extremely complex issue for the majority of the afternoon; the articles began to weave into a tragically compelling story of colonialism, opposition movements, rebel armies, refugees, decades of civil war. While I can’t begin to cover it all, some of the intracacies beyond the actual fighting that grabbed my attention were issues like propoganda and a largely uninformed and biased media in covering the country’s 30 year civil war. I could have read forever and not had the whole story pieced together.
(Something that I have also been spending a great deal of time with, but alas, another topic for another day: the continued legacy of colonialism in the world today. Take a look at areas of the world that in the last few decades have had or continue to have serious conflicts and flagrant violations of human rights. Coincidence that almost all of them can be tied to colonial powers…)
The thing is: I had no idea that Sri Lanka was even having a civil war, let alone decades of fighting separated only by a few ineffectice attempts at peace. I didn’t know that roughly 65,000 people have died in the conflict and over 1 million have been displaced. Some of the Sri Lankan refugee population has been living in camps in southern India since 1983. Relief Web calls the situation a “complex emergency” and I don’t think there’s a better way to describe it.
A crisis that I didn’t even know about.
For being an informed citizen of the world, today I kind of feel like a failure.