February 14, 2004 | Peter

Reality for Some

The other night I watched on SBS (where else?) as a mother buried her child. It was in Sudan. She and the child had been chased for weeks around the burning deserts of Sudan by the Sudanese army searching for its elusive enemy. The child, a six-year-old boy, had died of exhaustion and malnutrition. The mother buried the boy’s body in a shallow grave in the dry dirt and placed a scrappy branch of thornbush over it to keep scavengers away. She stood alone, staring at the grave.
There was a strange look on her face, controlled and almost inscrutable. The message seemed to be, “If I do not keep my expression still, I will just die of grief.” She was beyond the sort of emotions we would understand.
This black woman has known misery that would kill most of us. She is just as human as any of us, and as much as we do not wish to think about it, we have a relationship with her. We could have saved her boy. Furthermore, we can make sure such a thing never happens again. If we want to.
One half of the world’s population – men, women and children – live in poverty (less than $2 per day); one quarter live in absolute poverty (less than $1 per day). Of the next 2 billion people to be born on this planet, only 50 million will be born in developed countries.
This inequality must be dealt with. We must reallocate money from military spending to aid (we spend about a trillion dollars on arms, about 50 billion on aid). We must rethink our immigration policies on a global basis. We must develop a global population control strategy. To begin with.
This predicament of most of the world’s people should be the biggest issue in all elections, everywhere. John Howard and Mark Latham should be arguing over how Australia – one of the richest countries in the world, perhaps the richest – can best contribute to saving most of humanity from grinding poverty and misery.
That’s what should be happening.

Posted by Peter at 4:17 pm | Comments Off on Reality for Some |
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