With Leonardo DiCaprio staring in the soon to be released movie Blood Diamond, a lot of negative attention will probably be brought on various African nations (CNN story on blood diamonds). In reality the problem of a few people exploiting natural resources while the rest of the country suffers is nothing new. But the few commercial successes that have helped make changes on broad (national scale, even though some of these nations are small) represents at least some chance for optimism. I’ll site two recent examples.
This article from CNN about how Botswana did a deal with DeBeers to mine its diamonds and now offers free education (all the way to a doctorate), AIDs drugs, and general healthcare, to its entire population is pretty uplifting. I also like the discussion of building a culture of trust (my term). I think this is a very important concept. If you ever want a true democracy and to order through the rule of law I think this is critical. (Which is why I think perjury is a very serious crime and the lack of attention to it in our country may eventually weaken the entire justice system. But that’s a rant for another day.)
The second event (article from CNN) that I think is great in this regard is the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank. I think the microcredit (micro-finance) model of the Grameen Bank is very powerful on many levels and has had a clear impact in Bangladesh and beyond. Not only does it enable people to help themselves, it also creates an incentive for people to work together and help each other be more successful. It helps and inspires them to build a culture of trust. What Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have done is brilliant and I hope it sees wide adoption. I think helping people be successful, develop themselves, help each other, and to find dreams, are the things that can end poverty and terrorism. For a long time I have been somewhat cynical about what could be done to actually encourage that, but the fact that Grameen Bank has figured out a way and it has been successful I’m excited about the possibilities. Congratulations on the Nobel Peace Prize!