Friday, 21 January 2011

A final ramble

It seems to me that the opening sentence of almost every blog entry I've written refers to a length of time – sometimes looking back, sometimes looking forward. I suppose it shouldn't shock that, on commencing this final post, I once again feel the urge to talk about time. 4 weeks; one month ago today; the end of last year; All ways of expressing the same thing – the length of time since I arrived home from Amar Sonar Bangladesh.

Naturally, as I no longer live amongst the madness, I have no stories about cockroaches, discrimination, electricity, CNG drives/near death experiences, humidity or being bullied by an elephant. Instead I guess this post should be deeper, more personal, an opportunity to come to terms with a change in me caused by my travels from Drumshanbo to Satkhira to Drumshanbo again.

And yet, I have little interest in doing so. This blog has certainly drifted at times to my ramblings about the ups and downs of being a volunteer but right now I have little to report on that level. In fact the only thing to report is the concretisation of my views about global development.

As many of you know, we in Ireland are today fully consumed by political uncertainty, economic crisis, the worst effects of capitalism and the Rubber-bandits ( – check this out for some special Irish pisstaking). In such a climate, it has obviously been difficult to share my experiences of development with friends, family and strangers without getting the feeling that what I was talking about was, to those worried about mortgage repayments, cuts in disability support or unemployment, somewhat irrelevent.

And yet, I am absolutely convinced that experiences from the developing world are more relevant to the developed world today than ever before. If one looks at the causes of the crisis in Ireland - laissez faire capitalism, the politics of civil war, a lack of decentralisation, the damaging effect of cultural homogeneity, the corrupt power of elites, the absence of a separation of powers, democratic deficit, waste within the public sector, the marginalisation of dissent, the stereotyping of the poor, a disregard for climate change, the crisis on the left – one can clearly see the correspondence with factors holding back development in places like Bangladesh.

And herein, lies a point which I felt before I left in January 2010 but which I am certain of today: despite being so incredibly far away from places like Bangladesh (geographically, socially, culturally and level of development) I know that we, in western societies, are much much closer to our sisters and brothers in those developing countries than we dare admit. And I don't point this out for the sake of cultural enrichment but out of necessity.

The interdependence of countries today was once and for all proven in the most recent economic and global food crisis. And yet, many states still continue to go it alone; to adopt policies and make decisions which are simply unsustainable and inequitable on a global level. The challenge for development activists and the peoples of developing countries in this regard is clear: to get the people of developed countries to realize that their futures, their successes,their liberties, their jobs, their happiness are inherently linked to the local, national and global standards and policies on trade, investments, banking, the environment, human rights and democracy. It is my honest view following a year in Bangladesh and 4weeks in Europe that true sustainable development cannot be acheived nationally without sustainable development everywhere.

So that's it. I had hoped that 'Bangladeshi Times' would give readers a window into the situation in Bangladesh from the perspective of global interdependence. I didn't always manage to stay on that track, but, in any case, I've greatly enjoyed blogging through crazy, difficult, lonely, sad reflective and wonderful,moments...thank you for sharing those moments with me.

Bhalo thaken, Stay well.

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