Globalization of social issues

1. Globalization is more than the flow of money and commodities; it is the growing interdependence of the world's people through "shrinking space, shrinking time and disappearing borders". This offers great opportunities for enriching people's lives and creating a global community based on shared values. But markets have been allowed to dominate the process, and the benefits and opportunities have not been shared equitably. The "breakneck" speed of globalization is also making people's lives less secure, as the spread of global threats to well-being outpaces action to tackle them.

2. In the first place a possible misunderstanding has to be eliminated. Recognition that the "social question" has assumed a worldwide dimension does not at all mean that it has lost its incisiveness or its national and local importance. On the contrary, it means that the problems in industrial enterprises or in the workers' and union movements of a particular country or region are not to be considered as isolated cases with no connection. On the contrary they depend more and more on the influence of factors beyond regional boundaries and national frontiers.

Therefore political leaders, and citizens of rich countries considered as individuals, especially if they are Christians, have the moral obligation, according to the degree of each one's responsibility, to take into consideration, in personal decisions and decisions of government, this relationship of universality, this interdependence which exists between their conduct and the poverty and underdevelopment of so many millions of people. Pope Paul's Encyclical translates more succinctly the moral obligation as the "duty of solidarity"; and this affirmation, even though many situations have changed in the world, has the same force and validity today as when it was written. In fact, if the social question has acquired a worldwide dimension, this is because the demand for justice can only be satisfied on that level. To ignore this demand could encourage the temptation among the victims of injustice to respond with violence, as happens at the origin of many wars. Peoples excluded from the fair distribution of the goods originally destined for all could ask themselves: why not respond with violence to those who first treat us with violence? And if the situation is examined in the light of the division of the world into ideological blocs a division already existing in 1967, and in the light of the subsequent economic and political repercussions and dependencies, the danger is seen to be much greater. (Papal Encyclical, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 30 December 1987).

(J) Problems under consideration