Anwer Sher at PostGlobal

Anwer Sher

Dubai, UAE

Originally from Pakistan, Anwer Sher is based in Dubai and writes for Gulf News, Khaleej Times and Emirates Today. His varied career experience includes banking, consulting, and real estate development. He has a Masters degree in International Relations. Close.

Anwer Sher

Dubai, UAE

Originally from Pakistan, Anwer Sher is based in Dubai and writes for Gulf News, Khaleej Times and Emirates Today. His varied career experience includes banking, consulting, and real estate development. He has a Masters degree in International Relations. more »

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Beware the Coming Intolerance Epidemic

The Current Discussion: How can we reduce our vulnerability to risks posed by global interconnectedness - from swine flu to financial contagion to terrorist threats? What risks do you see on the horizon?

We are often reminded that we live in a fragile world. At any moment, any of the nuclear armed countries could simply destroy all that is known to exist for humankind and take us back into the Dark Ages. That remains the greatest threat to human progress and determines how nations, societies and people make decisions. The pressure on countries seeking nuclear weapons has increased, but the willingness of existing nuclear states to seek disarmament has decreased.

The moral argument that some states are mature to possess nuclear weapons and others are not is nothing but social snobbery and conceit. We should actively seek total disarmament from nuclear weapons for ALL states. As Utopian as that may sound, the presence of nuclear weapons has actually increased limited wars and conflicts since 1945. Armed conflict has engulfed societies in a more fundamentally damaging war of attrition between nations, societies and religions. This battle for the minds of the next generation is being fought not on the streets and in the trenches, but on the Internet through the quiet subtle manipulation of the minds of young people. This has brought more intolerance to the world, whether right-wing fanatics in the U.S. or Israel or Kalashnikov-toting fanatics in Afghanistan, Pakistan or many countries in Africa.

The fragility of our world is determined by the way greed has subverted the financial system. Criminals who pillaged the banking system are strong enough to seek and get public funding to correct the ills of their misdeeds. They leave in their wake an economic crisis whose proportions defy our intelligence to fix the problem. Governments throughout the developing world have no clue as to how to solve their crises; their corruption and mismanagement add to the misery of the people. Indeed, the social fabric of our societies is under threat, not from the outside, but from the inside. An implosion is brewing in many of our societies. The risks that we face are actually more societal in nature today than political.

The biggest risk on the horizon has to be the breakdown of our collective will to foster peace and prosperity. This manifests itself through intolerance, which then emerges as terrorism, countries imposing their will upon others, and the gradual gnawing away at the will for peace. Some would argue that the "clash of civilizations" is the biggest threat, but we forget that the civilization of Humankind must be put first. Casting stones at each other even when we seek solutions will bring about the biggest threat: Intolerance. I mean intolerance from all sides: the American government, which cannot see the Middle East other that that which they carve out; the Islamic fundamentalists, to whom social acceptance means only their brand of Islam and no other. We need to end the intolerance between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Both are guided by hate and moral superiority rather than a common recognition that they have no choice but to seek a way to live together.

If this intolerance becomes an epidemic - and I don't believe it yet has reached this level - then all the different aspects of social and political turmoil will emerge again, mostly out of frustrations. I'm talking about terror attacks, armies rolling across borders, social subversion - all are risks that a fragile society cannot bear. Only by educating people and reducing the risks of intolerance we will bring about a more positive global interconnectedness; a failure of this will only mean more turmoil and social and economic dislocation.

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