Why the bias?

Walking down an icy sidewalk of Highland Street before the sander has been out this week reminded me about the importance of what we choose to pay attention to and what we take for granted.
It’s easy to ignore what’s right in front of us when the path is clear of challenges. We don’t need to be concerned with the consequences of conscientious thought when there isn’t the potential for harm to oneself. However, when a path has a myriad of hazards, it’s easy to take a slip and have your world turned upside down.

Like most people, it’s been stunning to see and read the news lately.
Seeing columns of Ukrainians in civilian clothing, standing in front of a convoy of Russian military vehicles, obstructing their movement to a nuclear facility, or the damage to residential buildings, with gaping holes where apartment windows used to be before a volley of missiles tore through steel and concrete and glass, is difficult to process. Is this because it is in a city that doesn’t look starkly different to the places I grew up and frequented? Or is it the greater potential for the loss of life in an end of the world scenario that’s been projected, if Russian president Vladimir Putin escalates the situation to something out of the worst result of the Cold War, with a nuclear response? Why don’t we feel this way about images from Africa, Asia and the Middle-East?
Ukraine’s democratically elected president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has assumed a heroic stature in the world through sound bytes and memes, conveying resoluteness in the face of overwhelming odds. He remains a target, as he holds up in the city of Kyiv despite offers of escape. Does this come down to a narrative people can identify with rather than ignorance of the world?

I am not innocent in this. I am guilty of consuming the news and not reacting the same way to places that look differently to a western city as seeing the conflict unfold in Ukraine. I don’t have the answers for others except to speak for myself and believe it’s a western bias of if it’s a happening there then could it happen here kind of thing. They look like us, live similar lives, right?
It’s a slippery slope we’re on when we forget the numbers represent people. I wish it wasn’t that way, but it’s playing itself out with news about conflicts in the “other” countries.
Not to downplay the seriousness of what is happening in Europe, but to raise questions, there are other conflicts around the world that have displaced people, separated families, orphaned children and killed. In fact, there are three other conflicts (Nagorno – Karabakh, Kurdish – Turkish and Israeli-Palestinian) and six civil wars (Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Libya and South Sudan) that continue. After seven years, there is an estimated 250,000 people that have died as a result of the Yemen conflict. It’s being considered the greatest humanitarian crisis in the world. And, yet, we don’t hear much about it.

With 1.4 million people, Canada has the third largest population of people of Ukrainian descent, so why wouldn’t we help our neighbours and friends of friends? I just wish we offered the same help to all people … our fellow humans, who deserve our compassion like the person down the road.
How we see the world is a reflection of how we see ourselves.
Maybe the answer is within us and, if we don’t like the answer, it’s up to us to change that. We’re seeing how a united world can act, whether it is through the sanctions and the efforts to collect donations for Ukrainians like with cottager Ola Carreira. Without unity, what kind of world do we have and can ever expect to live in?
Source: Information on conflicts is sourced from the Council on Foreign Relations, which is an independent, non-partisan membership organization think tank and publisher.