Sunday, January 09, 2005

A Tidal Wave of a Rant

By now, everyone knows about the horrible tragedy that hit Asia a couple of weeks ago. Over 150,000 dead, as many as a million people left homeless. It's tragic, it truly is, and as unsympathetic as this rant is about to turn, I really feel horrible for the people who were affected by it, but....

Seriously, am I the only one who is SICK of hearing about this on the news, SICK of seeing the Canadian and American governments pouring tens and hundreds of millions of dollars into reliving countries filled with people trying to kill us? It goes beyond that though, the whole situation is just insane. I agree we should do something to help them out, but let's remember one thing when all of us are rushing to donate money as individuals to the people over there:

Charity Begins at Home.

Maybe I find it a bit hypocritical that the same yuppies who are donating $ 50 to the Red Cross, Unicef and other for-profit charities to help the people left homeless by the tsunamis are the same people who would step on a homeless person in downtown Toronto before they would give them a buck for a coffee. Of course I feel bad for the people who lost their homes and their families, and even their 10 cents-an-hour job with Nike as a result of the Tsunami, but at least their homeless dont' have to battle -30 winter nights like the homeless in Toronto do.

That being said, it's clear that some people would rather do more for people halfway around the world who they have never and will never meet than their own neighbor. Some people feel guilty for living in a industrialized, prosperous, western superpower. I sure as hell don't, but some people do. And with that guilt comes some idiotic sense of responsibility to need to help those who weren't as lucky as us. And they're idiots too, because there are far more important and devastating crises affecting the world right now that do not make the nightly news ever, let alone every day. And no one's holding telethons to raise money for the people affected by these crises.

Over the next decade, 30 million people will die of AIDS in Africa alone. That's the equivalent of the entire state of California being completely wiped off the face of the earth over the next decade. They will lose three times as many people in one day as we did on 9/11. Every two weeks, they will lose as many people as the tsunamis killed. The African countries affected by this disease are too poor to be able to educate people about AIDS prevention or afford American drugs to stop AIDS. Why are the same governments who are pouring money into the Asian crises by the tens of millions being stingy with helping the African AIDS epidemic? How can Pfizer dump $ 30 million in cash and medicine in Asia but they can't lower the cost of their AIDS drugs so African nations can afford them?

I'm sorry people, but it's time for a little reality check here. While it's certainly commendable that your hearts and prayers and money are going overseas to a bunch of people you've never met, it's hypocritical to do so while you remain completely ignorant and unsympathetic to the problems of people in your own backyard, as well as people who are suffering far more in other parts of the world. Even sadder is that the level of sympathy you have for a crisis is dependent on the amount of media coverage it receives because without that media coverage, you'd have no idea what the hell is going on in the world you live in or how you're supposed to feel about it.


LL said...

Wow, your tidal wave of a rant really hit home for me. Sometimes I think we get so caught up in this world and the "showy display" of ourselves, we forget who and what is really important to us. Are we living our life to impress the ones we don't know or are we remembering not only our neighbors but our loved ones. Its important to not get caught up with the worlds selfish behaviours.
I love your writing Bill-E-boy.

6:21 PM  

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