Members of the G8:
Taro Aso, Prime Minister, 日本国 Nippon-koku (Japan);
Stephen Harper, Prime Minister, Canada;
Barack Obama, President, United States of America;
Nicolas Sarkozy, President, République française (French Republic);
Silvio Berlusconi, President, Repubblica Italiana (Italian Republic) (Chairman);
Dmitry Medvedev, President, Россия (Russia);
Angela Merkel, Chancellor, Bundersrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany);
Gordon Brown, Prime Minister, Great Britain.
Members of the +5 Emerging National Economies:
Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, President, República Federativa do Brasil (Federative Republic of Brazil);
Dai Bingguo, State Counsilor, 中華人民共和國 Zhōnghuá Rénmín Gònghéguó (People’s Republic of China);
Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister, भारत गणराज्य (Republic of India);
Felipe Calderón, President, Estados Unidos Mexicanos (United Mexican States);
Jacob Zuma, President, Republic of South Africa / IRiphabliki yaseNingizimu Afrika.
These illustrious lady and gentlemen are representing the greatest economies from all over the world. They are meeting in L’Aquila, Italy to discuss matters that could shape our lives for decades to come, everything from global warming to the world economic crisis, from nuclear disarmament to intellectual properties.
One must wonder how President Obama will fare in the company of other world leaders. One must ask oneself, with all the education and life experience this man has had, will he be seen as a man with an incredibly uphill battle toward recovery of the U.S. economy and worldwide reputation, or will he be seen as the bearer of hyperbole and charm alone?
This is a different era than in World War II when the craggy elder statemen lined up to take the offical photograph as leaders of the free world. As surprising as it may sound, President Obama is not the youngster in the crowd. President Medvedev, at forty-three years old, is younger by five years than the U.S. leader.
Four of the eight are merely in their fifties. (Incidentally, Chancellor Merkel will turn 54 on my birthday, July 17, which I found entertaining to know.) Prime Minister Aso of Japan, at sixty-eight, is second eldest and the Chairman of the summit, President Berlusconi of Italy, is the eldest at seventy-two years old.
The average age of the G8 leaders is 55.8 years old.
Are our leaders getting younger, and by extension, less experienced? Is this going to impact the future of our planet?
It could be that President Obama can join the party in a very real way with innovative ideas, surrounded by other starry-eyed dreamers, waiting to create a new vision and vitality for our countries and our world.
This is what concerns me. Are these young upstarts idealists with little ability for follow-through, or, rather, are they insightful people who have allowed pragmatism to play a part in their development? In this VH1, media-based, technology-ridden culture, everything points to transiency and immediate gratification. Can long-term development still be a part of the ruling culture?
We will see.
I am hopeful; however, the world is in its current condition at the hands of these young whipper-snappers.
Let’s all keep our fingers crossed.
The world economy and me. Isn’t this how we all perceive what is going on with the world economy? Everything from Chinese exports to the value to the Euro to the ludicrous increase in the cigarette tax in California. If you are anything like me, you are asking, “Why is this happening to me?”
The challenge is, of course, that as deeply affected as we all are at an individual level, it would be impossible for those in Washington or at the G20 conference to know each of us by name and consider our individual lives.
Yet, here were are, in the midst of an economic situation similar to that of the one our parents and grandparents talked about during the late 1920’s and early 1930’s.
What did they do? Because of their work ethic and sense of personal responsibility, although frustrated and sometimes feeling fairly hopeless, they dug in . The kept looking for work, the continued to make sure their families had something to eat, and they supported those in their communities who couldn’t take care of themselves.
Is that what we are doing today? Is that how we are approaching things? No. The truth is, we are thinking, “How can we keep our 2,500 square foot home with all the luxuries to which we have become accustomed? How am I able to buy my children the latest fashions when I can’t afford gas for the car? Why can’t I keep swimming in my heated swimming pool all winter?”
We must accept the accurate assessment of where we are and take action to improve our situation as best we can while still remembering that we are part of a community.
Are we built for that? I’m not really sure any more. I would love to believe we are, but the evidence is dwindling in some ways.
I see the television where wonderful people are collecting clothes, toys and non-perishable food items for those who cannot afford them. They give me hope. Even something as simple as buying someone a meal, encouraging them get out of the house once a month for some entertainment helps.
We are hopefully compelled to remember others in this very difficult time and not look solely at our own situation. I suspect that through community and compassion, we will get through this time together.
And, for those who say that I am being a bleeding heart liberal, I say, you may be one who is receiving a bonus from a company who just got a huge bailout, or have always paid your own tab and not someone else’s bill. To you, I say, your perception about our situation counts, too. You, too, are a member of this society and we all need your participation, as well.
This is not a condemnation of anyone; just a simple reminder from a simple man who is living in the world as it is, hoping to see us be the people I know we can be.