Sunday, June 12, 2005

All on a Sunday Morning

The millions of Africans who die young and the hundreds of millions going hungry are not victims of fate. They are the consequences of U.S. policy.—Jeffrey D. Sachs,”Africa’s Suffering is Bush’s Shame,” Los Angeles Times June 12, 2005

There is evil in the world. I have seen it up close. But nothing, nothing, comes close to Rwanda. –Leroy Sievers, former executive producer of “Nightline.”

It is criminally obscene for us to let one child go hungry for even one night in our country. Surely in an era when we have multiple bidders for million-dollar homes, we can figure out how to feed a malnourished child.--Douglas MacKinnon, Los Angeles Times June 12,2005

These young homeless just don’t want to work—Rush Limbaugh

(Toying with his car keys)
I can't enjoy anything unless I ... unless
everybody is. I-you know, if one guy is
starving someplace, that's ... you know,
I-I ... it puts a crimp in my evening.

--“Annie Hall” by Woody Allen and Marshall Brickman

My friend from Pennsylvania, who has access to the inner halls of government workings through his business, once told me the United States could feed the entire world. He said the financial and technical means to do it exists, just not the intent.

I used to think that the complaint in Annie Hall about somebody starving putting a crimp in Alvy’s evening was sarcastic and not sincere. Now I realize it was defensively apologetic.

The embarrassment of the homeless in America is compounded by the percentage who served their country in the military:

…the VA estimates that more than 299,321 veterans are homeless on any given night. And, more than half a million experience homelessness over the course of a year. Conservatively, one out of every four homeless males who is sleeping in a doorway, alley, or box in our cities and rural communities has put on a uniform and served our country—The National Coalition of Homeless Veterans

All these hungry groups have one thing in common, as MacKinnon says in his op-ed piece about the homeless: “…virtually nobody really cares about them. Nobody.” When Don Cheadle’s character solicits help in the movie Hotel Rwanda, he is informed that the entire world will turn its back on Africans because they are Africans. The frustration lies in the fact that solutions are abundant and available, and these remedies are not being ignored or overlooked. The biggest institution or bank with the most money in the world, that could do the most to alleviate hunger on planet earth, the United States Government, spends its precious giant resources on wars and military extravagances.

But the suffering referred to by Sachs as Bush’s shame is more than that—it is the shame of us all for not plunging in head first to insist that our tax money be spent on saving lives around the world, and in our own backyard. If enough voices spoke out, those who want to remain in power via the almighty ballot, regardless of the special interests lining their back pockets, would listen.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main… any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.-- From "Devotions upon Emergent Occasions" (1623), XVII: Nunc Lento Sonitu
Dicunt, Morieris. John Donne

John Donne wrote that he was involved in mankind 382 years ago, before TV, the internet, and satellite communications. He was intuitive and eloquent, and we have no excuse for not getting the message.

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