Elif Shafak On Pluralism And Freedom Of Expression

Words have their own particular taste just like the food” world’s renowned novelist Elif Shafak informs the audience while delivering a Ted Talk on the topic “The Revolutionary Power of Diverse Thought”. She even tries to make the listeners taste how some words have different flavours to them. She connects this idea with the dream of creating a pluralistic world where people having different creeds, colours and identities can peacefully and harmoniously live together. With an unfathomable despair on her face, she laments that the world had for long been divided into two major domains—one solid and other liquid world. For the time being, she follows the belief of some scholars who believe that our world is living in the liquid times where uncertainty rules supreme everywhere.
According to her, this world has uselessly been fragmented into binary oppositions due to the absence of pluralistic societies. People living in the oxidant countries try to make the people having their roots in orient world feel inferior in all aspects of life. She mourns this bitter reality by recalling her own personal experience when an American scholar came to her and malevolently asked that feminists were supposed to exist only in the countries like that of Turkey. Shafak says she was mind-boggled to know the imaginary division of world into two camps.
Moreover, she resents the rulers or politicians who more often exploit the emotions of the ruled for their personal gains and that sadly the academia of the world has yet to explore the importance of emotions which make up a large part of our being. Living under the suffocating conditions and feeding the people with nationalist ideas leave a considerable impact on the lives of the young ones too. When she wrote a book for children, Shafak had to visit a lot of educational institutions for promotional purposes. She recalls that young minds were very eager to become writers in the future. But as soon as they turned teenagers or adolescents, they had given up even the idea let alone becoming writers.
In the end, to give a notion that how to coexist with the people different from ours, she quotes Khalil Jibran, a Lebanese writer, who once said, ” I have learned silence from the talkative, toleration from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind”. She concludes with once again reminding the audience of the taste of words. This time she says writers and storytellers have a Homeland they can call their own and that is “Storyland”. It tastes like freedom.

Time To Curb The Global Covid-19 “Vaccine Apartheid”

The world we live in always remained divided in terms of race, tribe, nationalism, slavery and economy. Economic apartheid, being the most common, has always remained a bone of contention among groups of people. However, a new form of apartheid has come to the fore that not only shook the humanity but also gave a new dimension to nationalism. The covid-19 vaccine being seen as an elixir of life is said to have all the strength one needs against a common global enemy. But the irony is not that the world is facing a common enemy but the unequal division of power to defend against it.
This asymmetry is further augmented by a difference in economic power. Today, Britain retains enough vaccines to vaccinate its population thrice while poorer countries are still waiting to get their fair share of vaccines. While countries of the global south struggle to provide basic health care to their population, countries in the global north are projecting to normalize soon.
Element of greed as said by Boris Johnson has overshadowed any notion of human right and collective responsibility. Where rich countries have bought vaccines bypassing international bodies meant to ensure fair distribution, global financial institutions like IMF have played their roles in further tightening the fiscal space of already choked countries, reducing their chances of survival to a dismal level. It is said that if the vaccines were equitably distributed, 70% of the global population could have been vaccinated ending the crisis logically and conclusively.
Global financial institutions and affluent countries should play their long due part to gain collectively. They must understand that virus in any part of the world will remain a global threat.
Fragile states must be given due importance as a developed nation gets for vaccines distribution. It is the right time when financial institutions have cancelled debts of weak states so they may be able to finance their domestic health care and social system to strengthen their base and avoid preventable deaths. Debt cancellation will allow them to finance small and medium businesses that form a backbone of the economy. This vaccines apartheid must be seen as a human rights violation and must be reversed or else humanity will remain stuck in the menace of this crisis.