So, tomorrow which is only about two hours away for me is United Nations Day. What exactly does the UN do to make our world better? Promote peace? Disarmament? Work towards eliminating world hunger and poverty? Safeguard individual freedom through prevention of slavery and elimination of human trafficking?
I went to the UN web site and looked up the subject index.
- Africa, Children, Civil and Public Service, Crime, Cultural Diversity
- Decolonization, Economic Development, Education, Environment
- Health, Humanitarian Assistance, Human Rights
- Indigenous People, International Cooperation, International Law
- Multilingualism, Outer Space, Peace and Security, Population
- Science, Social Development, United Nations, Volunteers, Women
Well, I didn't do so badly, considering that I touched upon some of the important issues, but I'm surprised to have forgotten about the endangered languages of the indigenous people, world health, and volunteers. Maybe I feel that little can be done for these languages. There are seven billion people on Earth now and, according to Ethnologue http://www.ethnologue.com/ethno_docs/distribution.asp?by=area there are 6909 languages....of which 473 are nearly extinct according to UNESCO http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UNESCO . With languages becoming extinct, related cultures and lifestyles are also lost. Half of the remaining languages have only 3000 speakers and will probably be extinct in the next fifty to a hundred years. Then what? There will still be 3000 or so languages left and maybe that's more than enough diversity for our descendants. Why not just allow these dwindling communities to be absorbed by their more linguistically dominant neighbors? Some two million speakers of Esperanto worldwide have chosen to learn an artificial language over a regional one. Who needs Irish, Catalan, Basque, Welsh, Gaelic, Cornish, Manx, Guernesiais, Galician, Maori, Berber, Ainu, etc. etc. ? What are the benefits of reviving threatened languages and making them sustainable? Personally, I'd say, let people speak the languages they want to speak and be multilingual. If the language loss is due to political oppression or economic decline, perhaps UN has a role to play in stabilizing threatened communities. Needless to say, the impact UN has on the world will be much smaller without volunteer efforts. Incidentally, International Volunteer Day is coming up on December 5th, (but I won't go into that right now) and it is probably timely and appropriate to mention that UN does much to improve the world's literacy with the help of volunteers. http://www.unv.org/en/perspectives/doc/bridging-the-literacy-gap.html Anyway, I'm jumping onto this bandwagon in the spirit of giving and making my Kindle e-book Three Rhymes for Young Poets Age Five to Twelve http://www.amazon.com/Three-Rhymes-Young-Twelve-ebook/dp/B009G9ZMDG/ref=... free for 24 hours starting at midnight Pacific Standard Time to add to the celebration of this international holiday commemorating the anniversary of the Charter of the United Nations.