Lately, idealism has begun to feel like a form of rebellion, a subversive act to push back against the rising tides of cynicism and fear.
As centenary commemorations mark the end of the ‘Great War’, the catastrophic hatreds of old feel worryingly contemporary. Rising economic precarity threatens so many people living at the margins as they struggle to hold on, their fears seized by populist politics and essentialist discourses. Seventy years after the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, inconceivable wealth coexists with abject poverty, while closing borders reveal how the universal guarantees for dignity and inalienable rights are accessible only to a fortunate minority. Meanwhile, the crisis of climate change continues unabated, waiting for decisive political leadership and individual consumer will to at last halt its rapid advance.
In such bleak times, hopelessness would be the easy answer. Yet for those of us lucky enough to still have so much, the urgent and compelling moral imperative is to contribute to alleviating suffering and to reducing global harms. The Myth of International Protection: War and Survival in Congo – just published by the University of California Press—is my contribution to the systemic revolution our world needs now more than ever. Based on a decade of work as an international protection actor and ethnographic researcher in the DRC, this book is my testimony of the denial and dysfunctions of the international aid system.
Rather than adding one more cynical critique to so many others, my intention is to offer the space for critical and honest reflection among the legion of international aid workers, development policy makers and humanitarian practitioners who are committing their lives to making the world a better place. To join the conversation, please apply to write a guest blog at www.claudiaseymour.net.