If I ruled the world: Sayeeda Warsi

Set up a national cultural exchange scheme
April 13, 2017

These days we’re more connected than ever through technology. But the more connected we are, the less we seem to really know about each other. So if I ruled the world, the first thing I’d do would be to set up a national cultural exchange scheme. This would mean everyone at some point would spend a month living with a community or group of people that he or she feared or even hated.

Sometimes it seems like we’ve become so polarised, so obsessed with our own point of view that we fail to understand people different from ourselves. But the only way to truly connect is to walk in somebody else’s shoes.

Once you do that you might come to recognise that someone else may face problems that you might not have known about—prejudice or discrimination, perhaps. Unfortunately, in the current climate of anti-Muslim populism, I see some apparently reasonable and intelligent people rationalising racist views. My scheme would be a good way of unpicking all that. Since I would be a world ruler, this scheme would spread across the globe. It would be great to do something like this between Indians and Pakistanis or Israelis and Palestinians.

Warsiland would also have a special portal that would filter out fake news. We would only have unpoliticised, ideologically unbiased and factual accounts of what is happening in the world. Much of the conflict we are now seeing has been fuelled by disinformation, whether that be in the traditional media or on social networks. All this means is that we’re feeding the beast of division. As ruler I would decree that if a newspaper or media outlet writes something which turns out not to be true, then they should print an apology that is as prominent as the false allegations originally made. Give a front page to fake news and you should give a front page to the correction.

People make the mistake of thinking fake news is the preserve of the alternative media. If you look at the tabloid papers, though, especially the number of times that complaints are upheld about the false or misleading use of statistics, you’ll see the problem is spread widely. I accept that we all have biases. But at the moment with the tabloids it’s almost a case of—let’s push our bias as far as we can.

The opposite of hatred is love. Under my rule, everybody would be free to love whoever they wanted to. Having the right to spend your life with the person you choose is incredibly important. Although we have made great progress, there are currently certain societal or cultural pressures that restrict people’s freedom. In many countries that even extends to laws forbidding their relationships .

To be forbidden from loving the person you want to love is one of the harshest things you can do to a human being. As world leader I would say: let people be with who they want to be with.