A Very Sad World

The news this past week has been largely of that kind which can so easily lead to a total switch off, a retreat to the lands or cattle post or to some place where there is no mention of man’s sheer nastiness, of corruption, of politicians, of greed, charlatanism, never-ending conflict and of more and more killing.

There has been the American attack on Kunduz hospital, there has been Palmyra and now there is Putin in Syria as well as in the Ukraine.  Since 1979 when Soviet Russia invaded it, there has been no peace in tortured Afghanistan.

Since the beginning of the Iraq-Iran war in 1980, the Middle East, birth place of the modern world is turning out to be the place where it may well come to an end.

How might it be otherwise with the world’s heavies all hurling their weaponry on this already crucified country (Syria) in an orgy of destruction? 

The obvious parallel is with the First World War in Europe when the proponents continued their mass killing because neither was capable of considering an alternative. 

Peace eventually came in 1918 when both sides had slaughtered so many that there was effectively no one else left for them to slaughter.

Syria today looks as if it is in the same kind of situation. When huge areas are sufficiently depopulated  -  through death or migration -  a new power will appear, ISIS, Russia, Iran and the killing will begin all over again. Somewhere in this endlessly tragic scenario, the US and the EU will also be key actors, pontificating, blustering and, of course, killing. 

And then going all self righteous and upright about the need to protect their borders from the mass migrating riff-raff, their inability to help those millions of refugees who have been driven from their homes by the bombs and shells that those same countries had used to destroy their towns and homes.

Currently there is a mountain of hypocrisy shared amongst the world’s leaders who contend that their military attacks on Libya, and Syria can have had no possible relationship with the mass movement of people across the dangerous Mediterranean Sea. 

And that therefore their obligations to assist can only be limited. Others, as they self-righteously insist, must do more!!! The coming winter months will slow down the mass exodus but it will not halt it. 

With the coming of spring, when the situation in those tragic countries will be infinitely worse, after more months of killing and destruction, the incredible movement of people will begin again. And after the winter months - which might have given the world’s leaders a much-needed chance to re-think – the same cycle will be repeating itself. 

 What is this killing is all about?  Has the US/EU got it right? Or has Putin got it right? In this situation, all are wrong - but no one can disengage.

And then with Iran next door and Israel just over there, the prospects for the world’s survival look very slim indeed. Why worry about climate change when the world is, anyway, so committed to other forms of self-destruction?  Sorry to inflict this outburst on you but when I am obligated to read about our own grimy public affairs, I am left adrift wondering how in our little patch of the world we should be better playing our hand both here and there.  In the upshot, I can only go back to generous nature that must sustain us if we are to survive.

Thus, I refer to the Mmegi report (8 October) that the sand riverbed of the Tati River in Francistown is polluted and degraded with thick belts of reeds now flourishing where previously there were none.

Recent visits to Sikwane have shown us that the Madikwe River  is now also transformed, being also so blocked by dense masses of reeds that the water is no longer visible.

I have wondered if an explanation for the degrading of those two rivers and for the devastation of the environment around Gaborone, in particular, is to be found in the historical pattern of Tswana settlements? Could it be that the mindset of those who have been taking decisions about Gaborone, and other major settlements, has remained fixed in the past? Could it be that there remained an unconscious, ingrained conviction that when the natural resources that support each settlement are depleted, it would be time to move on?  It is worth noting that there has been no historical precedent for a Tswana settlement of the size of Gaborone today.

In the past, settlements of 20,000 – 30,000 people could be environmentally sustained only for a limited period of years.  Thereafter, a move to a new site was inevitable.  I suggest that any study of Gaborone today will reveal that the explanation for its inability to manage its natural environment rests with a mindset that has been incapable of change.

Thirty years after its population exceeded its natural historical limit, Gaborone, unable to move on, is without water and exists in an environment which it has totally ruined.

Editor's Comment
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