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  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 8, No. 2, 2009
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
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Bernard Dubé
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David Solway
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Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Marcel Dubois
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Pico Iyer
Edward Said
Jean Baudrillard
Bill Moyers
Barbara Ehrenreich
Leon Wieseltier
Charles Lewis
John Lavery
Tariq Ali
Michael Albert
Rochelle Gurstein
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward



Of great riches there is no real use, except it be in the distribution;
the rest is but conceit.
Francis Bacon

Every time you spend money,
you’re casting a vote for the kind of world you want.
Anna Lappe

© Mia Farrow

Mia's drinking water right
Darfur drinking water left

They cared, they came, they came to conquer: world poverty. Only to learn that most governments and donating institutions had reneged on their promise to help the planet’s desperately needy.

Michaëlle Jean - Gov. General CanadaCanada, for example, had pledged seven cents out of every hundred dollars, but contributed only half of its promise. What do we call a promise unkept? A lie? It costs only $32 to keep one person alive for a year. To that child who is no longer with us, a promise unkept is a death sentence. To be marked in our calendars, every single day there are 32,000 unnecessary deaths through starvation, malnutrition and disease -- most of them children.

“We don’t have the money,” the bottom-liners (Ministers of Finance, CEOs) protest, flashing a Disneyland of numbers conjured up by the modern day equivalent of the medieval magician -- the chartered accountant.

Activist Jeffrey Sachs begs to point out that the global economic crisis refutes that mother of all excuses: when money is wanting to subsidize greed (banks gone bad, a sclerotic auto industry), trillions can be raised on a dime. Which means the billions (not trillions) needed to alleviate poverty are there. But alas, we live in a world where the willing and caring are in chronic short supply, which is why Montreal’s Millennium Summits, whose stated goal is to eliminate world poverty by 2015, are so important.

Daniel Germain - Summit FounderYears ago, summit founder Daniel Germain had a dream, that he would dedicate the rest of his life fighting for a more equitable distribution of the planet’s wealth. Out of that dream and commitment, The Montreal Millennium Summit was born, and has become a major player in the uphill battle to eliminate world poverty. Thanks to Daniel’s drive and determination, his project has been endorsed by the world-esteemed Bishop Tutu, Roméo Dallaire and Bill Clinton.Mia Farrow

In his opening remarks for the 2009 version of the Summit, Germain reminded us (especially the narrow minded celebrity asperser), that without the major participation of Mia Farrow, Nick Clooney, Val Kilmer, and Sarah Ferguson (Duchess of York), who volunteer their celebrity in order to redirect our misplaced awe to aid those who cannot help themselves, the agency that energizes the summit would be significantly less forceful. He also exhorted us not to be cowed by the intimidating results obtained by exceptionally gifted humanitarians such as Peter Thum, who raises millions for safe drinking water, and Dominique Corti, whose family turned a 30-bed dispensary into one of the best medical centers in equatorial Africa (Uganda). “If we all do what little we can, it will quickly add up to something big, which can be the difference between life and death for thousands of children.”

Never before in the history of human affairs has the challenge to rise to the occasion of ‘caring’ for those left behind been so pressing -- a theme that will surely be on the agenda for the next Summit.

Duchess of York - Sarah FergusonWhat distinguishes the present from all preceding ages is the disproportionate power wielded by the unelected and disenfranchised. From terrorist activity that has destabilized life and government in Iraq-Bagdad, Sri Lanka, Lebanon, Israel, Mumbai, Pakistan, Kashmir, Madrid, Nigeria, we now know that if we don’t concern ourselves with the world’s wretched of the earth, they will become our problem. The real clash of civilizations is not between Islam and the West, but between the haves and have-nots, where the latter have finally had enough, such that all the religion and law in the world can no longer guarantee their orderly conduct (their passivity). 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 there is a direct cause and effect that link endemic poverty, despair and terrorism, and we, the haves, are directly implicated. Long gone are the days when doing nothing meant nothing. With the world’s rich and poor so intertwined, indifference is now tantamount to not caring, which creates the bloated category of the not-cared-for, who cannot and will not be simply wished way.

Inserting themselves into this epochal struggle were the 3,000 strong who attended the 2009 Montreal Summit; they wanted to make a difference, they wanted to bring hope and dignity to those short-changed by the men in hats (ir)responsible for the distribution of the world’s wealth. Thanks to the 3,000 who came because they cared, six thousand children will live to see another year. Best said by Daniel Germain: “These (anonymous) volunteers sans noms, upon whom Millennium Summits depend for their remarkable results, are the world’s best hope. To which I add: May their numbers and influence grow as willing and wide as the world.

Report filed by Robert J. Lewis
Photo Credits: © Marcel Dubois

2007 Millennium Summit Report

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