Sometimes the shear power of numbers overwhelms me. For instance this blog has had over 11,000 hits. The human population upon the earth according to World Bank will exceed 7 billion before the end of 2011. According to the United Nations more than 2.5 billion people live in poverty and subsist on less than $2 per day. Preventable diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV which afflict a larger portion of the peoples of the developing world than the industrialized nations receive a fraction of the research funding of such maladies as heart disease and cancer. Heart disease and cancer have been linked to lifestyles of consumption which require vast energy resources that contribute to global warming.
I was ashamed to learn this week that countrymen of mine, members of the Tea Party, enthusiastically answered yes to the question of whether or not a man who was dying should be left to die if he did not have the required health insurance to gain hospital admittance. Considering according to the US Census Bureau the number of people in poverty and without health insurance in the United States has continued to rise and is somewhere around 50 million this is a possible human tragedy hinging on the fanatical politics of an ultra-conservative few who have gained a toe hold of popularity by preying on the fears generated during a time of national crisis.
Not to diminish the appalling lack of compassion and blatant inhumane ethic of the Tea Party proponents who would let a man die for lack of insurance, but is this any different than turning a blind eye away from the global tragedies occurring across the planet?
In Somalia foreign aid workers have been banned to go into parts of the country to provide famine relief because of threat of kidnapping.
In Dadaab, Kenya a half million people are starving in a refugee camp where rape and other forms of violence are rampant. The rains did not come last October and November to Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. The rains did not come in April or May. The soil blows in the winds.
In July in Malawi the government killed 20 protesters in a crackdown on protests in part due to energy shortages and poverty. Britain and the US have both frozen aid to the country. Forty percent of the total economy of Malawi is made up of foreign aid. The country is an agricultural country. New protests are scheduled for this week as President Bingu wa Mutharika appeals to the IMF and World Bank to unfreeze the aid. His government has been criticized for appointing family members to his cabinet and activists have been asking for an accounting of his wealth.
Much like Hosni Mubarek in Egypt? How many people suffered in the revolutions of last winter?
Three hundred and fifty four Libyan people were reported killed in Sirte yesterday. The Libyan interim government was unable to gain control of Bani Walid. The fighting goes on.
In Syria a purported 2600 people have been killed in pro-democracy protests. The UN five days ago named a three member panel of international experts to investigate Syrian crimes against humanity. Rights groups this week called for the Arab League to suspend Syria’s membership.
This is only a sampling of the suffering and violence occurring throughout the world. In 2000 at a United Nations Summit 189 countries adopted the Millennium Development Goals which include: halving the number of people who live without clean water and adequate sanitation, increasing the number of boys and girls who complete their education, decrease the rate of green house emissions, reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS, and halve the number of people who suffer from hunger.
These may seem like lofty goals, but as compassionate human beings can we allow ourselves to aim for anything less?
From my own reading one of the things that indicates a better outcome and higher standard of living for a population is the mean level of education in the area. Life expectancies, the rate of violence, the rate of disease– all the numbers go in directions indicating a better life for the people involved if a higher level of education can be achieved.
One person amongst our soon to be 7 billion who offers some hope is Sugata Mitra. He talks about the hope of education, how children will educate themselves, and how people together in simple acts can improve situations. His 200 British grandmothers, the Granny Cloud, are volunteering an hour a week across the world via broadband to make a difference by spreading love. He talks about bringing hope to areas where people do not want to go. Here is a TED talk in which he talks about his ideas: http://www.ted.com/talks/sugata_mitra_the_child_driven_education.html
In this time of global crisis will the cruel and callous few be allowed to bring poverty, violence, and spreading darkness? What number of people can we call upon to pitch in and create solutions and hope? One in either direction makes a difference.