Lack of knowledge about international issues problematic for United States

By Alex Pinsk || Opinion and Editorials Co-Editor

As Hurricane Irma beelines for the coast of Florida, news sources are erupting with articles including details about the force of this major Category 5 whirlwind, the damage it will generate, and the people who will be affected. This appalling natural disaster certainly deserves the deliberate attention and surveillance that it is receiving from the media, specifically because it is likely to cause serious damage to towns, cities, homes, schools, and, most importantly, people. Our people. The people of the United States.

But what about the typhoons that occur all too frequently in China, the recent earthquake in Mexico, or, on a different note, the recent shooting in Tanzania and the ethnic cleansing in Saudi Arabia? Should the people of these countries enduring these hardships not be given the same air time – or at least half the amount that circumstances affecting our own nation receive? Are the people of China, Mexico, Tanzania, and Saudi Arabia not our people too?

I do not think there is a doubt in anyone’s’ mind that  Hurricane Irma is worth our time and awareness; it is worth any aid and attention that we are capable of giving. However, because it is occurring in our native country, one might argue, it has garnered far more attention than similar events happening worldwide. In theory, the US needs to sort out it’s own issues before handling those worldwide. In practice, however, the only way to develop as a nation, to understand the disasters that occur, and to become true allies with other countries is to care about international issues, and, by association, to give them the media attention that they warrant.

It is true that the United States, being the egomaniacal country that it is, tends to refrain from bringing awareness to issues until they face US citizens. For example, the Ebola virus, while discovered in 1976 with over 28,000 cases in Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia alone (https://www.cdc.gov), was essentially only brought to the attention of the United States when US citizens were affected more than 30 years later. Same goes for similar disease outbreaks, wars, and even certain mass genocides across the globe. Do we just not care?

I would not be so quick to criticize the people of the US as I would be to criticize news platforms. While some sources, such as BBC and the New York Times, do a good job of highlighting international issues and supplying news stories about other countries, many other news sources still struggle with this. Regrettably, rarely does an international story make the headlines unless it directly affects the United States or important citizens within. Even news sources that supply international news give it dramatically less attention.

While I believe that our ignorance of international issues it is not solely the fault of us, the people, I do believe we have a say in how much we learn about other countries. We can dig for information, read articles, listen to the worldwide breaking news. We can find the information if we want it, although it may not be as easily accessible as it should. Perhaps if we take it upon ourselves to become more internationally concerned, the media will eventually cater to us, and provide us with the information that will help us understand and reflect on the events in other countries so that we can begin to help.

We should all be looking out for each other, as a human race. We are each others’ people, and just because something is hard, does not mean it is not worth our time and attention.

Hurricane Irma is a huge natural disaster. We should be made aware of it, understand it, and be of service to the people affected to the extent that we are able. For the Chiapas earthquake in Southern Mexico, we should do the same.

Sophomore Alex Pinsk is the Co-Op-Eds Editor. Her email is mpinsk@fandm.edu.

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