By Roger Diamond
When resources get tight, people go on the warpath to extirpate those who they are told do not deserve to share a slice of the pie. All countries have, to some degree, targeted people with an otherness and eradicated them so that those in favour can supposedly enjoy a greater share of the natural bounties of the earth. From a psychological point of view it is questionable whether enjoyment can be had after such behaviour, but the discussion of propaganda and mass psychology we will leave for another time.
The Rwandan genocide of 1994 saw extremely irrational behaviour where people who had been fellow citizens, neighbours and colleagues for years, suddenly become mortal enemies to the extent that many many people were killed. The small country of Rwanda had reached breaking strain with overpopulation and the genocide temporarily eased the demand on natural resource consumption.
Uganda is a much larger country than Rwanda, but is similarly highly populated and perhaps the recent homophobic developments are a similar symptom of a dwindling resource base and increasing population and consumption levels. Poorer countries are less able to temporarily boost natural yields (eg. through inorganic fertiliser use) or substitute natural yields through fossil fuel derived ones (eg. LPG substituting firewood as a natural fuel), as their currency does not easily buy barrels of oil or processed goods such as fertilizers.
Targeting a real minority group, such as LGBTI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex) people, if it does lead to killings, is not likely to result in a huge population cull if limited to this group, however, it may be a pivot point whereupon those against will find offence not only with the target group, but also any supporter of that group. Or perhaps, and more likely, the targeting of such a minority group reflects that the population pressures on natural resources are not yet as extreme as in the Rwandan case and hence hatred is not needed on such a scale.
As oil supplies dwindle and natural resources as placed under greater strain with increasing populations and consumption levels, competition for resources is going to increase. The US’s targeting of oil-rich countries populated by people with an otherness to the suburbia of America, is a good example of how this is already playing out on the world stage. How different is the US’s ar against terrorism versus Uganda’s war against LGBTI people? Sure, there are differences and I do not imply that LGBTI people have anything in common with the Taliban, but what I would like us to see is the ease with which hatred and fear is instilled.
So as much as I encourage people to reject the Ugandan government’s attitudes, do realise that ultimately, unless we cut our energy consumptive lifestyles and our burgeoning population, we may be seeing a lot more of the “bad” side of human nature. Those who argue with cases like Singapore or Switzerland to show examples of highly populated and peaceful countries do not realise that those countries buy in their resources from elsewhere and are therefore making abundant use of fossil fuels (via transport) to substitute for their own lack of natural resources.
Mass hatred and genocide are simply a symptom of overshooting sustainable behaviour.