Bob Geldof guest-edited Sunday’s edition of the Italian publication La Stampa. In the coming days we’ll be posting English language versions of the featured articles, including this one from Diarmuid Martin:
One global crisis after the other reminds us just how “global” the world has become. We realise today that it is no longer just what happens in another part of the world which can have its effects where we live. We see today how the greed of individuals and the inefficiency of regulatory control can have direct effects on the stability of our banking or economic system or political system globally.
The global word needs rules; it needs trust; it needs stability. Few will disagree with that. We tend, however, to look on this as stability for us in the wealthier world. What about stability in Africa, for African countries, for African communities, for African families? On so many occasions world leaders have recognised that stability and growth in Africa depend on reforms, but that there is also need of focussed investment in human capacity and basic human infrastructures.
Promises have been made and promises have been consistently watered down or forgotten about. The investment of solidarity which will bring stability to Africa has been quantified and measured and set out in time-bound commitments such as the Millennium Development Goals. These are promises made to the poor; but it seems that promises made to the poor are of less moral weight than the promises made to “the system”.
There are people who say to me, as a religious leader, that perhaps a little bit of recession is good “for your business”. They have gotten it wrong. They have gotten it badly wrong. Those who lived well in the years of wealth will live reasonable well in the lean years. Those who lived on the brink of poverty in the years of wealth will fall deeper into precariousness in the lean years. That is not something good for the way I understand my “my business”. Poverty is the inability of people to realise their God-given talents. Fighting poverty is about enabling people to live their talents to the full. A religious leader will talk about the “image of God in every person”; a non–believer will speak of the same reality in terms of “the equal dignity of each person”.
If we are serious about something so fundamental then we should all realise that a poverty strategy cannot be just a luxury for the days of wealth. We need rules, trust and stability. Why should they apply to some and not to Africa? Changing the goalposts of solidarity is disregard for the rules and breach of trust. This does not lead to stability; it tells Africans that we have a two tiered concept of equality and dignity.
If at the end of the current crisis those who are weakest come out less able to benefit in the future, then we will all have failed the poor. As a religious leader I do not want to be in that line of business.
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