MDG 8 has at its core a spirit of global unity and shared responsibility to ensure a high quality of life for each of the world’s citizens. It aims to increase aid to developing countries while easing their debt burdens, improving health care systems, and increasing access to information and communications technology. Only five donor countries in northern Europe have reached the UN target for official aid, which is measured as a percent of the nation’s gross national income, but more progress is possible in the next several years.
Few vehicles illustrate the collaborative spirit required to reach MDG 8 by 2015 more so than the 2006 film Babel. The film follows the stories of multiple people— Richard and Susan, a troubled married couple from California who are on vacation trying to work out their issues together; a Moroccan man who herds sheep to put food on the table for his wife and two sons; a Japanese adolescent dealing with the recent death of her mother, her burgeoning sexuality, a hearing disability, and modern life in urban Tokyo; a caretaker working in the U.S. who travels home to Mexico to attend her son’s wedding but faces problems upon attempting to re-enter the States.
Each of these characters, and, by extension, the communities to which they belong, are all connected by a single, tragic incident— Susan is shot by a random bullet while riding her tour bus through the Moroccan desert. This incident is the common thread among these seemingly unrelated stories, and evinces a complex picture of the interconnectedness of us all. Ultimately, through the dramatic tension of the movie, it is revealed that all of human is intimately connected and surprisingly similar.
In this sense, the spirit of MDG8 is embodied in the plot of Babel. Each action taken by a character in Babel has greater consequences for many more people than its original actor could ever have imagined. Similarly, aid and development assistance is not a unilateral force, nor does it only benefit its direct recipient: it affects entire communities, as well as the donor and his/her community.
Not everyone experiences our interconnectedness as global citizens as literally as Babel presents it. But every single person does share something in common with everyone else —their existence at this time on this planet, for one; and hopefully, a desire for transnational achievement of justice, liberty, empowerment, health, and quality of life. As world leaders discuss issues of global significance, hopefully they too recognize our interconnectedness, and work to ensure that we all do our part to achieve a high quality of life for all citizens.