Where to start? I'd rather do this as a world wide round table but the blog will have to suffice. Absolute Vanilla recently posted about the atrocities taking place in Sudan. We are all aware of them, unless you've been living under a rock for the past 10 years. The increasing number of refugees (although still very small by comparison) in Australia are testament to the problems there. We're all cogniscent of the plight of Zimbabwe and remember the awfulness of Rwanda. We abhor human rights violations in China - where they make the families of execution victims pay for the bullets that kill their relatives for Christ's sake. We are constantly remined about the treatment of the Tibetans, corruption in India, and as a citizen of a country that is part of the Coalition of the Willing - no matter what you thought of Saddam Hussein, his country is in a worse place now thanks to our baseless and ill-informed invasion.
I haven't even touched on third world farmers who are being ripped off whilst growing tea, coffee, cotton and cocoa or the poverty in Brasil or the constant subjugation and mutilation of women in third world countries - dowry bride murders and female circumcision - or the hundreds of bloodlust conflicts all over the world that will be fought . . .lost . . .then drizzle into the 'what was that all about category' (Ireland, Serbia, Croatia, Vietnam, Cambodia, East Timor) and I'm a pathetic geography student so I'm sure there are more. Even our own Aborigines live in third world poverty, stricken with conjunctivitis, deafness caused by untreated ear infections, glaucoma and malnutrition, damned to a life of endemic chroming, petrol sniffing and physical and sexual abuse. We have homeless people, abused children, impoverished elderly in a so called welfare state. Yet our trainee doctors, occupational therapists and physiotherapists would rather tag their regional studies onto an overseas holiday and spend 6 weeks in an African village drinking cheap beer or go surfing in the Solomons. With little intention of returning to do some real good. Although massive kudos to Thommos daughter for asking for pledges to the Moshi Disabled Network and Tuleeni Home for Orphans in Tanzania instead of 21st birthday presents. Love you for it Strawberrygirl.
So, feeling shameful that I don't do enough beyond the odd donation to the Make A Wish Foundation or sponsoring a child through Care Australia, or paying for the odd guide dog for the blind, Australian Conservation Foundation, Cancer Council and Heart Foundation . . what do we do about these bigger world conflicts? One of my favourite - no - oft used sayings is "Good people do nothing while bad things happen". I know so many 'good' people. Those who genuinely yearn for world peace, an end to poverty and war but how can we contribute in a meaningful and genuinely helpful way?
There must be something positive we can do. Amongst us are eloquent writers, political commentators, military men and women, angry youngsters with the energy to follow through. We have a collaboration of talent, youth, experience and realism so why can't we collaborate and form a useful, noisy and productive united front.
There are those who are afraid to give money to war-torn nations for fear that their donation will simply educate and raise another little suicide bomber or machete toting anhilator. Those who believe that 'charity begins at home' and use it for an excuse to do nothing, those who throw money at the plethora of charities that ring them each night just around tea time out of guilt rather than philanthropy. Those who knit blanket squares and woolly jumpers for children in Mongolia who are freezing in the winter, those who make up food packages for sunami victims in Indonesia and Sri Lanka. Others who support their Church charities to bring help to third world nations. Hell, I've even sent clothing packages to Fiji for children who can't afford a school uniform (although what the fuck that matters I don't know). Indeed, I am one of these fairweather philanthropists but is my contribution really making a difference?
The conundrum is where to start. There are a zillion organisations, charities, good causes . . . what we need is one . . . it used to be called the United Nations. It used to have the power to embargo, the power to make a difference, the power to intervene but has become a paper tiger. Now there are countries where it's representatives won't venture. Then there's Medicines sans Frontiers . . . even they have no go-zones although the work they do is simply amazing. This isn't a lecture, this is a plea . . .I want to help . . . I want to contribute . . . but beyond just throwing money at corrupt governments I don't have an answer. I don't know how to stop the bleeding, the hurt, the heartache, the abuse, the murder, the brutalisation, the separation, the marginalisation. I often feel guilty for moaning about my own situation, guilty for being happy, healthy, educated and most importantly safe.
My kids call me a snob and on the surface I guess I am. Asians can't drive, Abo's can't dance or sing and Lebos scare me shitless . . . but comedy aside - I want to make a realistic and meaningful contribution. I now have time on my hands and time is free right? I can't afford a big financial contribution but I can do some service. I just don't know where to start . . .It makes me weep. DrummerBoy may have it right . . humans are a virus dedicated to over consumption, slowly killing the planet, not with carbon but by sheer weight of numbers, cruelty to each other and will be the shortest living organism in evolutionary history - it's a self-fulfilling prophecy of destruction and decimatio thanks to the obscene consumerism and materialism of western culture. He's even reviewing whether he would like to have children and he's only 20 years old!
But in the interim . . . if anyone has any ideas of how we can contribute to really help, not just soothe our egos or feel better that we are making a difference, please let me know. I started today with Amnesty International but it means a blind kid won't get a dog this month. !