As grotesque photographs of the devastating Ebola outbreak in Liberia filter through my newsfeed, I find it difficult to transcribe my reactions. My feelings are a sadness-stricken medley confused with a dash of relief and a hint of anxiety. Why do I feel these strange emotions toward something that is occurring thousands of kilometres away? And why am I further astonished to understand that many people don’t seem to care about these events?
A couple weeks back, I listened to a TA suggest to the class that foreign news coverage is pointless for Canadian news-watchers, and that headlines of significant relevance to readers are the only items that should concern them. After all, it doesn’t apply to me. I shouldn’t be interested in Hong Kong’s umbrella-battle for democratic liberties, when I’m safe at home with a smile on my face and a Charter of Rights and Freedoms to soothe me to sleep.
Growing up, the idea that I would someday be interested in global current events was unfathomable. My father’s six o’clock ‘click’ to Global News only supported the fact that Middle Eastern struggles or violent European protests bored the hell out of me. Thankfully, a solid education, curiosity, and a little procrastination now have me skimming sections of Al Jazeera and The Guardian, and realizing the true importance of reading up on world news.
Through global events, I understand we all fight for survival in a precarious world of uncertainty.
Foreign news gives me a sense of my place in the world as an individual, a citizen, and a human. Yes, it seems selfish and ironic to suggest that I read up on global events to understand myself a little more, but this is the fundamental reason that our access to world news exists. In learning of the ongoing battle against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, I begin to understand my own position as a citizen in my own country.
I am able to reflect on current situations surrounding me, and relate them to foreign situations. I analyze a snapshot of myself to discover my own fortunes or misfortunes, as compared with those of other individuals or states.
The Ebola outbreak saddens me because I envision myself in that Liberian world; I empathize with those coping with loss. Though, I’m relieved to not live in that position, but I’m also anxious that I could some day be struck with such a deadly virus. Through these emotions I come to comprehend that we are all people fighting for survival in a precarious world of uncertainty.
As Canadians, we relate with national events more directly, but global awareness is the gateway through which we come to see our broader situation. World news stitches us together in a tapestry depicting not only collective struggle and turmoil, but happiness and prosperity. This is something we can’t afford to bypass or ignore.
Pragmatically speaking, yes, Ukrainian civil unrest does not affect us Canadians directly, but it allows our nation to learn from others’ mistakes and to reflect these learned lessons back to the world as responsibly as we can. So think twice about your lack of interest in the world news section — through it you may find a sense of balance.