What happens in another place affects you

2015-03-05 10:31

There is something which has always occupied me regarding how most times we live our lives in a bubble disassociating ourselves from things happening elsewhere. Do not think that because something has happened in a far off place you are not affected. With the inter-linkages which are now part and parcel of the society we are living in, something which might happen in a particular place in another city, country or continent has an impact wherever you are. I will take some recent high profile examples to illustrate my point.

Ebola epidemic

“There's a natural tendency in the news to focus only on things that can or do directly affect your audience. Sure, it's self-absorbed and reeks of navel-gazing, but that reflects reality. People care largely about themselves, and anyone else is just background noise” (Kleeman, 2014). The article which is referenced illustrates the ‘interest’ in the epidemic as measured by Google Searches and tweets in America over the period the epidemic set in. At the point where two missionaries returned to America with suspected cases, there is a clear spike in the interest…same as the recent case of the individual who recently returned from Liberia (who has unfortunately passed on). Even though more than 3,000 people have died from the virus- ‘concern’ in the matter heated up for the 3 individuals.

Collapse of the hostel at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) 

The collapse of the hostel at SCOAN (the church led by TB Joshua) brought about many different perspectives and opinions from people. Something which might not have crossed people’s minds at the time was whether it would affect them directly or personally.

Though this is something which had happened in Nigeria, the people who lost their lives in this incident were actually foreign nationals from other countries.I know someone who is in close proximity who is originally from DRC who lost an uncle (who was now based in Johannesburg) in that building collapse. The uncle had gone on a visit to the church. When something happens it might not be your direct sibling, cousin, relative or friend…but it might be someone who you know who is affected.

Sub-prime crisis

Being an economist, there was no way I would have left this example out. In the US there was a period whereby people who did not qualify for house loans (mortgages) increasingly obtained loans- even though they were high risk individuals. Banks then packaged these mortgages into products in a process called debt collateralization. These products where then sold to other financial institutions who then came up with other products i.e. products were derived from other products- thus coming up with derivatives (derived from). The process continued up until the products became extremely complex.

In the US house prices fell at a point where people started not being able to finance their mortgages. As they defaulted, the assets on the banks books lost value and this started a ripple effect to all the other financial institutions which had the derivatives on their books. Some large companies which had been in existence for many years ended up being closed and some needing to be bailed out.

To cut the story short, something which originated in the financial markets ended up spilling over into the real economy. Financial institutions were now risk averse and they reduced their lending. Manufacturers were no longer able to produce as much as they should have been able to and there was an economic downturn globally. Something which had started out in the US went on to affect everyone in the world.

There are many other examples which I can use but I think you now get the picture. If you are to pick up a newspaper now (on go to any news site) you will see different issues such as gang violence, accidents, conflict, release of economic news, looming changes in policies or legislation etc. Now when you read all of these, have a different perspective. Never dismiss things happening elsewhere as ‘it is their own problem.’ Whatever happens to others has a bearing on you. You therefore need to be conscious of this and take time to pray for whoever might be involved in the events which would have transpired.

Concluding remarks

Never live your life like an island detached from everyone else and the goings on in your environment. In all you do seek the peace and prosperity of the city/nation in which you reside (Jeremiah 29:7). Pray to God for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper. When you hear there is a crisis in one or other city or country don't brush it aside thinking its of no concern to you- have empathy.

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