The responsibility of global citizens

Ethan Zuckerman, who for some misguided reason I’ve only just started reading regularly:

I mourn the deaths of everyone killed on both sides of the current conflict in the Middle East and I pray for a speedy end to the conflict, followed by negotiations that lead to progress, not a resumption of conflict. But I also pray that elections go smoothly in Congo, that they augur progress towards stability… and that somebody outside of Africa notices.

I believe that it is a responsibility of all global citizens to read the news, to discuss issues and to be knowledgeable about global events. But I wonder whether people are a bit too knowledgeable about the Middle East. That if we heard fewer opinions, less analysis, less constant rehashing of every event, we might view situations like the current conflict with new eyes and see different possible outcomes. Far be it from me to suggest that anyone stop reading the newspaper. Let me suggest an experiment instead:

When you read a story on the Israel/Lebanon conflict, assign yourself some homework: a story on the ongoing conflicts in northern Uganda, DRC or Sudan. You won’t find many on Google News – you’ll need to lean on AllAfrica.com or Global Voices. If you find yourself interested in the role of minerals in the DRC – critical to understanding the situation, IMHO – I recommend Global Witness’s reports on the region. You’ll likely find the news confusing, complicated, incomplete and unhelpful in forming your opinions about how Central Africa can move towards a peaceful future. And that, oddly enough, is a useful first step.

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