We claim we care,
our democratically elected governments make the claim for us
when our best intentions falter, all the while a holocaust is
taking place on our watch as 30,000 people (mostly children)
die every day from hunger. Notwithstanding the brave efforts
of Millennium Summits and philanthropic NGOs, why are we unable
to convert best intentions into deeds? Or, allowing the facts
on the ground to report back, why don’t we care?
According to the
numbers, the gap between rich and poor is widening. The media
tells (tolls) on an almost daily basis of government getting
caught with its hands in the till, lining its pockets with exorbitant
sums of tax payer money, some of which has been designated for
aid. For all its grandiloquent gesturing and espousing of humanitarian
principles, the sum of deeds left undone by government speaks
to one irreducible fact: it doesn't care.
Communism was the
first serious attempt to break down the distribution barriers
that were erected and lorded over by capitalism. By legislating
out of existence poverty and private ownership (and God), Communism
empirically demonstrated that care could be implemented on a
large scale, that no one would be left behind. The result was
a rigorously uniform population of, alas, unhappy haves,
because human nature was recklessly written out the Marxist-Socialist
equation. It would take no less than 3/4s of a century –
in 1991 when the Wall came tumbling down – to exorcise
the spectre of Communism, and for disabused socialists to acknowledge
that nothing satisfies the human spirit like inequality.
So if the haves
are happy in their having -- that is blissfully unmoved by the
misery of the have-nots -- the fault must lie not in the stars
but in intractable human nature that always seems to get the
upper hand when push comes to shove, when dollars designated
for the dispossessed and dying end up in the purchase of jewelry
or second car (care spelled without the ‘e’).
Could it be that
as a species we are hard wired to care for only our immediate
family, and in certain instances extended family (uncles/aunts,
cousins), where care reveals itself as an unbroken continuum
of physical, emotional and financial sacrifices extended unconditionally
to a select few? In an earlier age, we also cared for members
of the tribe because it best guaranteed the tribe’s survival.
To be noted – with due irony -- that we, in the 21st century,
who pride ourselves in our science, technology and medicine,
personally cared for a greater number of people when we were
confined to caves.
So how can we do
better knowing in advance our best intentions are no match against
the imperatives writ in human nature that predict 999 times
out 1,000 we’re going to spend $1,500 on a flat screen
TV when that same money could feed and save the lives of 300
children (at $35/year) for one year?
Short of sending
ourselves into the heart and horror of the world’s great
suffering, at which point it becomes impossible to self-indulge
at the expense of human life, the only alternative is to engage
or activate a competing genetic disposition that will impose
correct behaviour. If we could collectively come to the understanding
that we risk perishing as a species if we fail to equitably
distribute the world’s wealth, you can bet your undonated
dollar that what has to get done will get done – that
the DNA driven fear and response mechanism will produce a result
that has thus far eluded what reason articulates is our duty.
the present from all preceding ages is the disproportionate
power wielded by the unelected and disenfranchised. Norbert
Weiner, in the 1950s, writing about the implications of the
then burgeoning globalization of the planet, understood that
when you arm yourself you arm the enemy. From terrorist activity
that has destabilized life and government in Iraq-Bagdad, Sri
Lanka, Lebanon, Israel, Mumbai, Pakistan, Kashmir, Madrid, Nigeria,
that insight has become a fact of everyday life.
But despite the
death counts, the message has not been granted its gravitas:
that the have-nots have had enough, and all the religion and
law in the world cannot guarantee their orderly conduct. Globalization
has assured their enlightenment -- the better life is attainable
before the afterlife – while the Internet provides for
their empowerment: instant how-to access to manufacturing and
detonating bombs; planning terrorist attacks; the nurturing
and setting loose of suicide bombers. What we haven’t
‘yet’ read about is the detonation of the chemical
bomb that will instantly and indiscriminately
kill millions of people and bring about a new world (dis)order
founded on the paralysis of conventional power.
To be in denial
entails the deliberate exclusion of facts and information that
would otherwise explode an unrealistic assessment or viewpoint.
In the fairy tale As the World Binges, the wealthiest nations
of the world have managed to hi-jack the term ‘globalization’
and spin it into an economic template of tidy consequences.
But the concept, as originally formulated by Marshall McLuhan,
means if we don’t concern ourselves with the unhappiness
of the Mohammeds of this world, they will become our problem.
Globalization is a quantum equation that describes the planet’s
interconnectivity where the single wag of any fibre optic tail
moves every dog. Which in concrete terms means the cause and
effect that link endemic poverty, terrorism and Armageddon is
not a far fetched gothic fantasy. The dirty bomb will soon be
a mere disconcerting click away. From the Philippines, Myanmar
to Thailand, there are more and more instances of the erstwhile
unrevolted have-nots breaking rank, refusing worship at the
altar of compliance and acquiescence.
In his Seven
Deadly Spins, Geoff Olson points out that what
characterizes the have-nots is envy, which can lead to anger,
and then revenge if our institutions fail to defuse that anger.
And when the dust settles and the have-nots are still denied
a piece of the pie, headlines are made. Non-entities cum terrorists,
clutching after any straw of meaning, desperate to preserve
what remains of sense of self, find their preservation best
safeguarded by an algorithm whose endgame is to bring the haves,
their culture and institutions, to their knees, and then some
-- where every means justifies the end.
So far, terrorist
bangs have been relatively small because the dirty bomb hasn’t
been exploded. But its day will come if the haves continue to
dwell in what can only be described as a state of surreal disconnect
that is tantamount to rolling dice with manifest destiny. As
Exxon, government and big banks fiddle, and our watchdogs are
being wined and dined by lobbyists, the age of the aggrieved
has snuck up on the horizon, its eyes and ire fixed on the west.
a pre-emptive remedy before the “blood-dimmed tide is
loosed,” it’s pedagogical. The wealthy nations of
the world can be taught that it is in their best interest to
level the playing field, that their self-preservation is best
assured by a deliberate and revolutionary redistribution of
the world’s wealth. Less then that, they are signing on
to a paradigm that will condemn them to living in post-modern
fortresses inspired by the medieval example of Carcassonne,
and burying the dead on a scale that will make the plague look
like a walk in the park.
Barack Hussein Obama
says 'yes we can.' I say,' we (the species) damn well better.'
Homo sapiens is decisively at the crossroads one big-bang removed
from the abyss where starvation, poverty, HIV and malaria have
become the breakfast of champions for the freshly minted radicalized
fanatisized of the planet.
The choices are
bleak: either Care Now or Apocalypse Now.
the Garbage and the Flowers
Food Games in India
Millennium Summit Report
Wealth Creates Poverty