Posted by Deirdre Oakley, BARCELONA, SPAIN --Last week on Face the Nation former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright bluntly summed up the current state of our national and international crises as such: "To put it mildly: the world is a mass". She went on to discuss globalization as one component of the problem by causing growing nationalism and hatred across country borders. You could see some of this in Barcelona, a city which continues to feel the effects of the 2008 housing bubble crisis with persistent foreclosures and a youth unemployment rate of about 40 percent. Protests erupted in May as Senegalese immigrants were kicked out of a warehouse long established as a social center for those without housing. This was done by city hall to make room for another park. You could also see not-so-artistic graffiti in Gaudi's Park Güell demanding that tourists go home. And of course, the Catalan Separatist movement is alive and well albeit peaceful and with legitimacy.
However, broadly speaking none of these issues are new or directly caused by globalization -- nor are the current upheavals in Gaza, Ukraine, or the detention of Central American children at the U.S.-Mexico border. And we most certainly cannot blame the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on globalization, even though many ignorant Atlantans aren't happy with two patients being transferred to Emory Hospital (note: the virus is not air-born like Tuberculosis). Ebola aside, what we can blame these stubborn conflicts on is blind hate and greed-- something that seems to have expanded exponentially in the 21st century. This isn't because of globalization as much as because of greedy people profiting off of angry media outlets absent of facts, as well as by increasingly polarizing conservative movements -- movements that put hate first and ignorance second.
But life on the ground endures and people continue to be gracious to one and other. I saw this side of Barcelona first hand. I was even pick-pocketed -- my tourist status apparently obvious -- but treated kindly by strangers (one native Barcelonian lady even hugged me) as well as by the Barcelona police who managed to get my iphone back. I wish American police were that helpful. Perhaps if world leaders, other politicians, and corporate mega chiefs could take their lead from ordinary everyday people, the world would be a better place. Perhaps even the polarization and the hate going on around the world now would stop, or, at the very least, subside some.