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Saturday, April 14, 2007

BREAKING NEWS!

Some people think that they* hate us because of our freedoms.

I always found that too simplistic and would say that they hate us because our cultures are too dissimilar to handle rubbing sharply pointed elbows in an ever shrinking world--that is, neither culture has an easy way to deal with the cultural eccentricities that make each group culturally dangerous to the other. On one side you have puffed and secular public life (relatively), fried pig skin, boobies, and binge drinking; on the other side you have misogynists, unquestioned rule by Koran, no public boobies to speak of, and tremendous xenophobic leanings. Honestly--and my flip attitude aside-- our differences are very real.

Luckly, though, I’ve found the real problem. It seems to be that some of us eat so darned well that the poor, luckless bastards just can’t help but hate us.

While the world’s elite dine on sumptuous meals courtesy of the White House, the number of hungry people in the world continues to increase. Tell me again why they hate us?

By Adem Carroll, April 9, 2007

On April 7, as the world around us continued to burn, the White House issued an Immediate Release: the Easter Dinner Menu. I am sure you will be glad to know that after a hard day of work the President and First Lady look forward to a Texas Grapefruit, Avocado, and Mozzarella Salad; Fire-Glazed Ham; Green Chili Cheese Grits Soufflé, Roasted Orange Molasses Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus, Brazos Valley Cheeses, Fresh Yeast Rolls, with Coconut Cake and Blue Bell Ice Cream to wash it all down.

We hope the President and First Lady had enough to eat. At the same time, 854 million people across the world are hungry, up from 852 million a year ago. Every day, almost 16,000 children die from hunger-related causes-one child every five seconds, according to the World Food Program.

Hell, I’d been thinking this whole situation was about something serious, and now I find out that our problems would be solved if we just send all the hungry people in the world a nice, roasted duck and maybe a decent creme brulee. Because that whole cracking open browned sugar layer is so fun that it will distract them from the urge to blow shit up.

So, people, for the sake of all that’s important to our world, put down your food, wrap it up, and send it to a hungry person. STOP THE HATE! STOP THE WAR! NO BLOOD FOR COOKING OIL!

Don’t think that I dismiss the problems of hunger in the world, but another person’s hunger isn’t caused by my caloric intake. Hunger is largely the result of failed economic and trade policies, intentional strategies to marginalize opposing political and tribal power, and the kind of educational deficit that leaves a country’s infrastructure in a constant state of decline. Whether the leaders of any of the Western nations never eats Lemon Carnaroli Risotto with Asparagus Tips again, the leaders of countries like Zimbabwe will ensure that a giant portion of their citizens stay hungry.

What Adem Carroll is trying to say with this kind of tripe, though, is useless. Global success is not a zero sum game--depriving the President of his Blue Bell ice cream might make Carroll feel better, but it won’t do a damned thing to feed another man, woman, or child in the world. Indeed, there is a strong argument to be made that constant food aid shipments from the West have helped create a permanent reliance on that aid in some third world countries. I’ll need to break out some statistics when I have a bit more time, but if memory serves there are a number of countries where the number one economic driver is foreign aid--that is, international welfare.

While I could use a slimmer me, a few less hamburgers in my stomach this year won’t salvage broken economies or miraculously make an uneducated populace in a third world country capable of caring properly for a small engine to run the pumps that might help them have clean drinking water. What they need is to set up educational systems, reasonable social safety nets, basic health care programs, and plans for reinvigorating collapsed systems of infrastructure (not to mention governments that rely less on corruption and graft and more on addressing public needs) more than some misplaced sense of either guilt or judgement that comes with eating dinner.

The people who hate us enough to bomb us don’t hate us because of our culinary delights; they hate us because our way of life is in direct opposition to theirs in public, political, and private aspects of our lives. Asking people to give to help feed the hungry is understandable; blaming our current conflicts and our cultural differences on the fact that some people eat well is idiotic.

* They, in this case, are extremist Muslims who believe that the world should be ruled by strict--ie, their--interpretation of religious law and that killing is a grand way to achieve the goal. The cat who wrote this article seems to think that pretty much everyone in the world who isn’t eating glazed parsnips and young carrots is in the camp of “they hate us”; I prefer to stay focused on the ones who actively work to blow us up. Apparently the others are just too weak to strap on the bomb vest.

A somewhat related post: Aid to Africa. This post of mine from 2005 touches on some of the same topics.

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