First World Problems

Meghan Oliver

Do you know one the top headlines under the “World News” subheading on CBC’s website? It’s “Lotto fever grips U.S. as Mega Millions jackpot hits $1B”. Other Canadian headlines on the same day under world news include: “How much weed was sold on Canada’s legalization day, province-by-province”, “Russian charged with conspiring to interfere in U.S. congressional elections”, and “Trump said without evidence that Democrats are supporting ‘caravan’ of migrants”, from Global News Toronto, CBC World, and Global News- Politics respectively. These are some of the most interesting “breaking news” items for the entire world today, according to Canadian news sources.  However, are these really the most mind-boggling and shocking events that are happening over our entire globe today? A recent Doctors without Borders article has the following subheading: “Since 25 August 2017, a massive exodus of over 706,000 Rohingya people have fled Myanmar.” Another article, from UNICEF, is titled: “In Yemen, millions of children could soon be without food or water as economic crisis deepens and Hudaydah violence drags on”.

Just think about it for a second: Canada could be spreading awareness about issues such as these problems happening everyday, in so many countries across the globe but instead, our news  emphasizes topics like the American lottery system, an election scandal, and President Trump’s most recent decision. These are significant in their own right, but when compared to statistics of starvation and deaths in Yemen, their significance is diminished.

In Canada, one of the main issues that has made headlines over past years has been the debate about legalising marijuana. Meanwhile, in a country like Afghanistan, where the oppressive Taliban force towers over its people, citizens are robbed of their simple right to speak their opinion and girls are prohibited to go to school and yet, many still speak out even though countless have been killed for doing so. In India, around 163 million people, 4.5 times the entire population of Canada, are living without safe or sanitary water.  Though our country’s national “crises” such as fighting for the legalisation of marijuana, though important, pale in comparison to non-first world countries’ crises of fighting for freedom of speech or access to clean water.

“How can we improve the world?” This is a big question that is constantly on our mind but for which the answer to is often frustratingly ambiguous and out of reach. I believe that we, as first world countries, must take responsibility in answering this question. I understand that Canada does have important national crises that actually need addressing, such as the current subpar conditions on many Indigenous reserves, but a lot of our country’s “issues” involve simply trying to achieve more comfort and support for our already relatively stable and safe nation.

If our news shifted its focus a little bit to shed some more light on legitimately shocking events happening around the world today, maybe our country could spend more resources trying to improve those situations so that the differences in equality among the nations could balance out a bit more. In result, I hope that we could see more gratitude spread across first-world countries as well as see the need for these headlines about millions of children starving and thousands of refugees fleeing a conflict-torn country gradually start to disappear.