Invisible Victims: Ending The Ignorance of Slow Violence

Deforestation,the depreciation of natural resources, capitalism, all of these things encompass slow violence; a topic that Rob Nixon explains and attempts to bring light in his book,Slow Violence, Gender and the Environmentalism of the Poor. With each day, our environment suffers as a result of climate change and the destruction of forests which results from corporate and private greed. These changes, though dramatic, are often only noticed in hindsight, which causes a present lack of concern from the general public. This along with lack of media coverage and a diffusion of public responsibility has led to a sensation of world wide indifference for those effected from environmental disasters (which is referred to by Nixon as slow violence).

Capitalism causes people to be more concerned with short term gains than long term global conditions. For instance, the people that live in California are very well aware that we are in a drought, but instead of trying to conserve what little water we have left, they continue to overuse water to benefit their appearance. The cost of their appearance is more important to people than the long term effects of the drought. Donald Trump doesn’t even acknowledge that global warming exists he believes that it is made up. He is sadly the person in control of our country and he is doing nothing to put an end to global warming. Our entire world is suffering because of global warming and our president refuses to believe that it even exists. As the sea levels continue to rise due to the melting of glaciers, the people of Maldives are losing their land. Eventually they will be overtaken by rising sea levels and the world will be faced with environmental refugees for the first time in its history. Our president, Mr. Donald Trump states openly on his twitter account that “This very expensive GLOBAL WARMING bullshit has got to stop. Our planet is freezing, record low temps, and our GW scientists are stuck in ice” The ruler of our nation refuses to believe that global warming exists and is not going to do anything unless it is proven to him that it is indeed an issue.

We need to continue to have social movements, such as the Green Belt Movement, where a hundred thousand women in Kenya, worked to plant thirty million trees. We have platforms like social media to initiate change, we get all of our information about what is going in the world today, we need to utilize it to show slow violence. Why is slow violence slow? Because no one is aware that it is even occurring. We can use social media to make the world aware of what is happening. We can use social movements to make this change, we can make it look interesting to the public, like the president of the Maldives. Mohamed Nasheed, held a cabinet meeting underwater to desperately reach out to the world about Maldives islands. President Nasheed’s underwater meeting was a desperate attempt to catch the world’s attention, to add dramatic urgency to a process that, however disastrous, occurs over a period of decades. This desperate attempt to save the islands of the Maldives worked to catch the public’s attention with the help of social media.

Unfortunately, the people that are being affected by slow violence are often rarely the ones capable of preventing it. Most of the time, they aren’t even the ones causing it. The people who are suffering are doing so because of the actions of big businesses and indifferent consumers. For example, Coca-Cola has been accused of dehydrating communities in third world countries, sapping farmlands, resulting in the loss of agriculture for the affected communities.The company admits that without water it would not have a business at all. Coco-Cola is exacerbating water from communities that already are suffering from a lack of water resources. Coca-Cola established a bottling plant in the village of Kaladera in Rajasthan at the end of 1999. Rajasthan is well known as a desert state, and Kaladera is a small, impoverished village characterized by semi-arid conditions. These people probably don’t even drink the product and do not have the capital to stop it. This is slow violence in its purest form.

In the end, we need to continue to spread awareness of slow violence by continuing to have social movements like the Green Belt Movement to overall put an end to this suffering. We need to reverse the damages that already have been done and stop the damage to our environment from continuing. Our planet is beautiful and supplies us with natural resources and humanity is destroying every last bit of it. With the current rate of destruction, there will be nothing left to destroy.