Development: More than just a moment in time

Development may be complex, but together, the possibilities are endless

“I have learned you are never too small to make a difference “ - Greta Thunberg, 15-year-old, Climate Activist, COP24, 2018.

“I have learned you are never too small to make a difference “ - Greta Thunberg, 15-year-old, Climate Activist, COP24, 2018.

 

Development - a word we can instinctively make a connection with. Yet, if tasked to explain it, each person would have a different take; based on experiences, education, motivations, and country of origin - among other factors.

Personally, I find it very confusing; and that’s before adding the terms like “International”, “Global” or “Sustainable” to the mix. In fact, one of the reasons I’m studying an MA in International Development is to try make sense of all these big “fancy” terms; the same ones that promote inclusive “development” while simultaneously using language that discourages the participation of a key change agent - the layperson.

Lack of understanding can result in the formation of a personal, or societal, defence wall which opposes change, or difference. The world is complex, but it shouldn’t be feared; we should be taught to embrace the beauty of diversity.

I often wonder at what point we get side-tracked from the joy of the world. Have you ever paused for a moment to watch the fascination on a child’s face as they watch a butterfly float by them; or the roars of triumph from a team as they celebrate the ball rippling against the back of the net. Did the colour of their skin matter then? Does it now?

How about when a baby takes their first steps? We are all so excited to watch them, as they slowly build up enough courage to push off from the sofa; and we stand-by waiting, to catch them if they fall.

We support them, every step of the way. But then, we release them into a society, full of “responsible” adults who, often (un)consciously, tear people down. Not all adults, of course. But enough.

It doesn’t help that in today’s digital world, our minds are being starved of nutritious information - which is poisoning our young people. More protection - legislation, awareness campaigns, leadership - is needed; to combat “fake” news and hold people accountable for ill comments.

Somewhere along the way we’ve lost our sense of community - where is the “céad míle fáilte”?

We’ve been distracted - by self-interest, monetary gains, or the latest fashion trend. We’ve tried to take on this world alone, feeling invincible; but these past twelve months have reminded us all that we are no one, without each other.

Today, we should be attuned to the Irish proverb - “Is fearr an tsláinte ná na táinte” - your health is your wealth. As a country, we will emerge from these disorientating times more self-aware, and humble, I hope.

Our current situation is more than a moment in time; it is a huge wake-up call for humanity. The world needs leadership, equality, peace, and solidarity. Ireland, and its citizens, have a role to play - and I, for one, want to be part of it; and you should too.

We all have an equal responsibility to set an example for those who look to us for guidance - at all levels. So, let’s practice critical thinking, learn to become more self-aware, and continue to support each other, when we fall.