Crunch, Mmm, the peanut chunks trapped in delicious caramel tastes oh so good. You bite and are rewarded with a mouthful of inticing caramel and nut flavors – all of a sudden that deliciousness is tainted by an odd sourish, crunchy, mushy apple flavor. What? Where did this apple come from, I like the outside best. This is the caramel apple of globalization – the outside is so delicious and appealing, but once you hit the apple and core, the fun has ended. Granted this all matters if you run with the majority and toss aside the age-old wives tale of eating an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Too many of us see this doctor everyday – there is no escaping this doctor because all too often globalization is used for ill, just to get the caramel and nuts, not the healthy fruit of the free market, fair trade, and multi-lateral agreements.
Globalization is seen as the harbringer of much ill in the world and the truth of this idea is undebatable. All one needs to do is visit a small community in a ‘developing’ country and the negative impact is obviously seen. Globalization, being a negative, can, if used properly, be a positive and can lift poverty from oppressed peoples. Some of the caramel of globalization’s apple I have seen firsthand in my travels of Uganda and Ghana. Trash, more specifically plastic, has created a scar on the beautiful African landscapes sought by all. This trash is piled, burned, and thrown anywhere. The great evolution of plastic was an amazing invention, but has created problems elsewhere. This goes along with the ‘quest for the west’. The Western pop culture permeates everywhere. This an odd development if you ask me because the cultures evident in African societies are so strong and have such beautiful histories and traditions. Maybe the youth in those societies do not think so, that must be a youthful commonality – rejection of old tradition. Terrible western hip hop is loved, most everyone is walking around campus with their earphones in and MP3 players out – you would almost mistake this for an American campus, but for the heat and the obvious difference in setting and language. The love of technology and having a piece of technology is great. Many places we visited, the youth asked us if we had headphones to give them. This interest in technology could also develop into a positive of globalization. There is also the adoption of the word term ‘fastfood’ at typical Ghanaian food stands. Let me tell you, at least in Ghana, there was no such thing as fast food.
Globalization is defined as the sharing of ideas, technology, inventions, thoughts, education – it is an idea as old as the world itself, so why in recent years has it become such a harbringer of ill and a harsh word to the ears? Globalization brings in an international influence that can be seen as an extreme negative, but in some places international involvement is important to foster a strong economy. The idea is to make the right decision so that exploitation of people and resources does not happen. The economist, Joseph E. Stiglitz, attempted to write a book to explain this idea of ‘Making Globalization Work,’ I would recommend the book, but also look into other perspectives. Globalization can be used for as much good as it is used for ill. The important thing is to use the idea of globalization wisely, as with everything else at your disposal for power. I see the crises of black gold and other important resources in African countries ripping the people and governments apart. Globalization does not have to be the end, globalization is the means.
Index of blog post series on Ghana.