20 July 2011

Feast or famine

UPDATE: The United Church has launched an appeal for help for Africa. Please donate. Either there, or with another reputable charity.

I don't know why I'm such an idiot. I keep reading comments on news stories. I think I must subconsciously want to get mad. I am so infuriated about the lack of response to the famine in Africa. I see so many asshole comments like, "We have our own problems. We can't help them." WHAT?! Seriously? They're literally starving to death and your problem is what? That you can't afford a latte every single day, but only every other day? Yes, we have homelessness and poverty, but we have food banks and shelters. They're not a solution, but they're something. These people have no back up plan. No safety net. It's not a matter of there's no money to go to the grocery store. It's a matter of there's no grocery store. There's no garden because there's no rain. There's NO FOOD. We are obliged to help them.

It's a colossal lack of understanding, I'm sure. Oh sure, there are some apathetic asshats, but I think mostly people simply do not grok the situation. I mean, money flows when there is a disaster like an earthquake or tsunami. We get natural disasters of that sort. But famine? That's so far out of our realm of comprehension that there seems to be a collective head-in-the-sand approach to it. I actually heard someone say, "This is just par for the course for Africa." Um. Okay. I think people here think they can just adapt, or that because this is nothing new (it is though, because of its severity) that people will somehow get through it. I know, it wasn't sudden or unexpected, which can truly make things worse, because there's no time to do anything (like get to refugee camps where they could still starve) or fly in some food and water, but at this point, there's nothing more they can do. They're at the end of their options. It is on the rest of us as human beings to help. There's not a religion in the world that doesn't have some version of the golden rule. We must help.

So... further to yesterday's saga of me losing my mind trying to look after the kids without help, now I'm sure He's screwing with me. :) After I wrote my epic whingefest, I went to pick the kids up. Pop started crying for a bar (sunbutter bars are his favourite thing ever). We were out. I looked up at the sky and said, "SERIOUSLY?!" Told Pop sorry, and then put him in his car seat. And promptly found a bar, still in the wrapper, between the two seats. HA! Then, Pop refused a nap, but went to sleep at 7 last night and slept through until 6, at which point he nursed and went back to sleep until 7:30. Crackle went to sleep at 9 and slept through until 8. I got to go to bed super early. Then, this morning, I got to go sit in that quiet cathedral and just do nothing. It was glorious.

So, having been raised with a healthy dose of Catholic guilt, I've been feeling terrible about how I have so much and people are literally starving to death. I've also been feeling terrible about how overwhelmed I am, given how much worse things could be. Well, I got a little answer on that one. Have you ever been burned? Like a small, first degree burn? It hurts like hell, right? Does it hurt less when you think "Well, I could be scalded all over. I should be grateful that I'm not". Hell no it doesn't. It still freakin' hurts. Same deal.

Now, I know, I'm being a bit inconsistent, because earlier I was mocking someone else's first world problems. But I don't care. There's a difference. My being overwhelmed by my first world problems don't prevent me from donating money to help. I'm not hung up on my need for wealth so much that I can't give to others. In a nutshell, I don't think anyone has a right to be part of the privileged class. If your biggest problem is that you might have to give up some of your luxury for someone else to have their necessities, that's pretty petty. And that's not a burn. That's a cool shower instead of a hot one.

I think this is why I'm so very angry: greed is making the plight of the people in Africa so very much worse. We could alleviate their suffering but we choose not to. We're part of the problem. And that just utterly infuriates me.