Wednesday, February 13, 2008

What a Rape in Africa Means to Me

We have a President who takes a month off for vacation every summer. What could be done during that month is concentrating on an area of the world that needs more help than most, and more understanding in order to provide that help. Africa has gotten some attention from celebrities like George Clooney and Don Cheadle, who take a real interest and spend major time and money of their own to bring the modern holocaust that is happening to media forefront.

But this attention doesn't last. In case you've been sleeping the last few months, you must notice that the headlines are consumed with the US presidential election, which is still 9 months off. Once in a while a natural disaster or world political event usurp the election coverage--not to mention the obnoxious and journalistically immoral targeting of an obviously clinically-sick Britney Spears--but the events of Africa easily seep onto the back-burner due to the distance, and complexity, of the issues.

Darfur, in the Sudan, has reached a level of public interest due to Clooney, Mia Farrow and others drawing the public eye to the debacle of misplaced thousands of people from their homes, murders, and atrocities committed on women and children. The Chinese conveniently don't want to ruffle international feathers, so by standing by their allies who run Sudan, who are believed to be the cause of the strife, today's news was that Steven Spielberg was backing out of being artistic adviser to the Beijing Olympics. That ought to send an intense message to the Chinese that we mean business here--and therefore, to the whole world, that us Yankees won't cotton to mistreatment of our fellow human beings anywhere, anyhow.

I don't aim to detract from Spielberg's act and motives, only that the rest of us "yankees" really don't measure up to any kind of sentiment over the realities of what's happening on this planet. The biggest news today was Roger Clemens testifying in congress about using or not using human growth hormone while pitching his way to utter greatness in major league baseball. While 150,000 US troops are sweating it out in Iraq, and millions of Africans are being killed and raped, and in our great country millions of people have no health insurance, thousands live in homeless shelters, and everything isn't quite right everywhere--whether or not a big league pitcher used exotic and bizarre drugs to increase his performance levels shouldn't be the most important issue on our collective minds. At least not all the time.

Here's my reality: Darfur is now the tip of the iceberg--it seems that the African continent houses strife beyond what is imagineable in our cozy American minds. Unicef claims rape is a weapon of conflict across Africa, and this is about our fellow human beings from age 2 to 82. Now look at Hillary and Obama criticizing each other and think about what's important to you. And according to Newsweek, Somalia's situation is worse than Darfur.

Cabinet member and friend Henry Morgenthau reluctantly went to President Roosevelt about the killing of Jews in Europe during WWII, and asked Roosevelt do something. We look back in horror today at what was not done and the immense injury and death that might have been avoided had something been done. And we don't want to repeat those mistakes. But part of the new problem is more than forgetting the past and repeating it, as George Santayana said. It is that we are being so distracted and "numbed up" by a ratings and profit-motivated media bombardment of non-reality news issues, that we miss the point of our common existence.

And we really need to know that our brothers and sisters, homeless and under-compensated in our own country, and beaten, raped and murdered across the world, are as close as our real neighbors next door, and in fact as our own true family.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments signed Anonymous will not be published.