Questions about the “world” status of countries

The readings we had for yesterday’s class led to discussions around the “world” status of countries – first world, third world, while also looking at articles on economic development and development as freedom.

After last night’s class, the following two questions were still in my mind:

1. If Canada is considered a ‘first world country’, then why are there communities in provinces where people do not have their basic needs being met?

2. Why are we so eager to help people in “third world countries” when there are people right here at home and in our communities who need our help?


Photo Credit: Charlie O’Hay via Compfight cc


I posted them on Facebook and received a few responses from fellow teachers, peers and even professors. Here is what they had to say:

That’s always been a question in my mind! But I’m told the answer is that “have” countries are suppose to contribute to “have not” countries in the same way that the provinces do.

I like both questions but second one is mine too.

Great questions. In my mind a response to the first leads to some possible reasons for the second. It’s always easier to feel compassion for the ‘other’ when at a distance. If looking closer to home it forces one to start thinking about one’s own complicity.

Very interesting, indeed. Bishop Hunt from Newfoundland came to our school on Monday to talk about missions in Canada, which was along the same thread as the questions you are posing. I can’t offer solutions, but I do wonder about it too.

Precisely! Both very relevant questions. We do need to address the issues here and in the global south. For the first question, we need to consider for example, where does the government prioritize their funding. Monies allocated to buying war ships, airplanes, subsidizing major corporations (tax incentives) could be diverted to the critical issues faced by many marginalized and minoritized groups in Canada. For the second question, it depends on our own understanding of what it means to be human and humane and our inter-and intra relational understanding of ourselves as all being global citizens.

I was grateful that those I know contributed further to our class discussion and that I was able to think about different ideas and perspectives.


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