Sunday, October 09, 2016

Making my peace

The list is endless.  A list of countries with humanitarian crises.

Yet, the reality show candidate from the "family values" party has managed to make the year-plus long campaign all about him and his penis.  Nero playing the fiddle is, by comparison, a much more empathetic act!

A couple of days ago, the New York Times had these photographs of refugees..  Fleeing from a number of countries in Africa because of the chaotic conditions there.  So chaotic that they were willing to risk it all, by attempting to cross deep waters while crammed into boats.  Crammed enough that some died merely from the conditions in the boat.  In one boat that had about 150 people, rescuers found 29 bodies--10 men and 19 women.

Yet, we continue to be focused on the candidate and his penis.

Have we no sense of shame and decency?  Have we become so devoid of empathy, and so captivated by one man's penis show?

In an interview with National Public Radio, the photographer who took those photos had this to say:
the number may never go down if we as a Western society, we don't do something to stop all this conflict and war in their countries. We have the responsibility of what's happening there because maybe we don't help or we - you know, there is something that we could do better to help this situation.
What is that "better" that we can do?  I know one thing we could have done better--we could have made sure that we brought forward a candidate who would not put on a penis show.  That itself could have helped us think about, and discuss, some of the global priorities.  We could have attempted to understand how the candidates differ in their understanding of the issues and the policy ideas they have.  Instead, we have had nothing but a pornographic political theatre.

I have to make my own peace in all these.  I made a donation to my favorite humanitarian group--Doctors Without Borders.  In the grand scheme of things, my donation will not make a damn difference.  But, a man has got to do what a man has got to do.

And, even though a stranger mocks me in her email--in response to my latest newspaper column--all I can do is wish for world peace, fully recognizing my insignificant place in this political landscape.


Ramesh said...

Tip my hat to you for making that contribution to MSF. One of the most noble organisations in the world.

Exploring a bit on what is causing this migration. Wars and poverty have been afflicting Africa for many decades now. Relative to say, ten years ago, it is somewhat better now (the operational word is relative). Congo is less of the horror it was. Rwanda and Burundi are peaceful. In the West, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Cote D'Ivoire and Mali which all saw awful conflicts are more stable. Northern Nigeria is still unstable, but as stable as it has been for many years. On the east. Ethiopia and Eritrea are not famine struck. Kenyan election violence is a thing of the past. South Sudan simmers, yes but somewhat less so. Its in the north in the Arabian sector of Africa that there is greater instability, especially in Libya.

So what is making people migrate in such unprecedented numbers. I think its the communication revolution. The internet and mobile phone have made people aware of the better life they can have in Europe. Hence they go. Human nature being what it is, we mostly ignore safety. Disasters happen to other people and so unimaginable risks are bring taken.

Another dimension is that the migrants are the rich amongst their respective societies. Only the rich can afford the costs of the people smugglers. So the real victims of the war - the poor - have no option but to stay and bear the consequences.

We can help. One by declaring war on the people smugglers. They are the true vermin of society. Secondly by enabling economic development in these countries. Economic upliftment will trump war. Much of the onus of development is on the citizens themselves - each country needs a Deng Xiaoping (or even a Kagame; although I know that you will brand me a war criminal for saying this). But all of us can help. With capital and technical and managerial assistance, much like the Hong Kongese did for China. But then the world everywhere is turning inward. So fat chance of this happening.

The real problem is Asia - in the Middle East. Syria, Iraq ..... Alas !

Sriram Khé said...

I am pretty sure that I am in agreement with almost everything you have written ... especially about the people smugglers. But then it is also thanks to the smugglers that quite a few have been able to escape death and reach safe havens in the countries that accept them.
The only place where I really disagree is where you write about the "need" for Dengs and Kagames. No thanks. I don't ever understand why you are always in praise of those dictators despite their atrocious freedom-crushing policies that have also literally killed people :(

Mike Hoth said...

Doctors Without Borders is a fantastic group. It's a shame we don't ask our presidential candidates for their ideas on humanitarian causes, but then again I'm not sure I want to hear the clowns talk about how great they are when it comes to helping others. Instead we hear about how many great things Hillary or Trump will do for us "poor" Americans. The first charity worker who runs for office will get my vote, but they're too busy digging wells and building hospitals to spend 18 months bragging about themselves.

Anne in Salem said...

Economic development seems a wise direction, but will assistance from American or Western companies be welcome? From companies considered Christian (or at least non-Muslim)? Wouldn't foreign companies setting up factories or to bankroll/advise entrepreneurs be considered economic colonialists? I'm not trying to be difficult or negative, but I struggle to envision implementation of an excellent idea. I can see baby steps to improvement, such as through organizations that resell crafts handmade by local women or children to supplement meager farming income, but it would be difficult to scale such a program to be helpful to thousands of people.

Agricultural improvements to attempt to meet even minimal nutritional needs will take years if not decades. I know projects are in place, but will they succeed quickly enough?

Sriram Khé said...

There is an old saying in the old country, Mike. The saying conveys the idea that the average person's life is not affected that much whether it is god or satan who rules the kingdom. While that is an exaggeration, the reality is not far from that--we think the office of the president if way more powerful than it really is. And over the years, presidents have been all the more eager to make use of that illusion and increase their powers--especially in waging wars.

Anne, it is in agriculture that we have indeed seen some spectacular improvements--despite the atrocious governments all over. If that is the metric that you look for, then that is evidence that you are vastly underestimating the pace of development.

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