chapter  12
14 Pages

Epilogue: Harm and Well-Being: Cultural Practices and Harmful Global Practices

In the uncoordinated global effort to repair and improve our damaged and imperfect world there is no central wise authority to lead the process. The programs of ameliorative and development action are as various as the viewpoints that have gained traction and followers, each fraught with internal contradictions and reinterpretations as the participants engage, argue, take separate paths, or fight with one another. The World Health Organization and the United Nations and its many component organizations, for example – although cultivating expertise and organizing consultative meetings to debate problems and coordinate or authorize action – are hampered by the disparate national interests that member states are guided by, resulting in un-ratified or unenforced agreements. The international organizations are in some years denied funding from the U.S. for domestic political reasons, for example, as was the case with the UNFPA in the Bush Administration. Or they are insufficiently supported to address crises and emergencies emerging in our increasingly chaotic world. The Ebola epidemic, coping with HIV/AIDS, inadequate infrastructures for urban population growth, wars, refugees, human rights, poverty, climate-related disasters – not one of these can be addressed in a coordinated way, due to political conflicts and disagreements on what needs to be done or who should be responsible for changing anything. And when the problems are of enormous complexity and consequence – as is the situation of global climate change due to human actions that are enormously difficult to modify – the prospects of coordinated action seem truly elusive.