Ryan commented on a few conversations that he had regarding the idea that people who faced tragedy or poverty got what they deserved due to their lack of faith in God.
Comments I made on that post elicited a few questions and I will try to support my comments here rather than derail Ryan’s thread.
Leisure travel is by nature a function of wealth and an exercise in subjugating a place and people. Poor people cannot afford to travel for purposes of leisure. Poor people also are locked into service ‘industry’ (that keeps them poor) through several capitalist mechanisms. The first of which is the system of transnational capital practiced by the IMF and WMF whereby local countries provide free trade zones where foreign companies can come and set up shop without having to pay much of any kind of tax back to the host country. These companies use cheap local labour to extract significant profits while putting very little back into the local economy. Most importantly they locate and fix the indigenous population in place – drawing them to employment in these FTZs. The wages people receive are not enough to support them and they often must work many jobs to survive and they remain in poverty.
Here is a recap of the questions presented in Ryan’s post…
are you suggesting that tourism is evil because it encourages people to migrate to coastal regions where they could be killed by a tsunami? should we perhaps move these hotels inland provided they are not near a fault line or a volcano? or is it evil and selfish because it removes them from their subsistence way of life? is it evil to travel because you might indirectly influence someone to change their current vocation from one of farming to one in the service industry? should we barricade western culture from other cultures in order not influence them?
Answer to the first question:
Tourism is not intrinsically evil but the practice of tourism has significantly subjugating consequences one of which is that due to tourism there were generally more people in the areas affected by the Tsunami than there would have been otherwise. We also know that in the aftermath of the Tsunami wealthy foreigners were significantly advantaged in accessing help – but this is just obvious. We know that the poor suffered more than the wealthy did in this tragedy…
Answer to question two:
As I have already stated the damaging effect of the leisure travel/tourism are evident without them being in the direct path of an impending disaster. Moving the location of the hotels only transplants the problems.
Answer to three and four:
Like I said earlier, the economic systems that drive the tourism industry lock people in place and reduce the options available to them in order to provide for their families. This is what is so insidious since on the surface it seems that people are making a decision between subsistence and service industry employment. But let us not forget that it was not the locals decision to have foreigners come and lounge on their beaches and traipse around on their ancient ruins. And local peoples do not have the power to kick transnationals out of the country.
Answer to last question:
There are aspects of western culture and values that have created significant problems globally. There are other aspects that have the potential to provide significant opportunity to improve the well-being of people around the world. Barricading western culture from the rest of the world is not only impossible but just silly. Cultural exchange is valuable when reciprocity is mutually available and balanced. But when the cultural values of one dominate another problems exist (Unless it is somehow possible to prove that Western culture is just that much more superior to other cultures – in which case subjugate all you want!). Western cultural values hold a place of privilege and authority in the world. As such it is important to address aspects that might be damaging.
Finally, (to try to connect this back to Ryan’s post) when western ideological perspectives and consequences are endorsed through faulty logic couched as Christian values – then repentance is needed. If western Christians think that their advantaged position is somehow an endorsement by the Almighty - they are getting it wrong. If they think that poor heathen people get what they deserve when disaster strikes – they are getting it wrong. If westerners can’t recognize that their practices bear significantly harmful consequences, both overtly and covertly, they are getting it wrong.
I think that there are ways to enjoy the marvels of God’s creation in different countries. I’d be glad to entertain ideas from any of you who bother to read this as to how this might be possible…