Thursday, June 05, 2008

Who can take care of everything?

35 comments:

change-man said...

Ouch - both in the nature of comparing the lack of concern for tragedies overseas with simple houseplants, and the title - as though our responsibilities to both are comparable.

I have enjoyed your ways of juxtaposing ideas here, and am thankful that you bring this situation to attention. I'm certainly not one for intervention everywhere, but as the sole world power left standing, I think we do have responsibilities (and not just where there’s oil – Kuwait vs. Darfur).

Cartoons like this one make the comparison more closely - corn for ethanol, which is an environmental mistake anyway since it takes more energy to produce it than itself produces (http://www.organicconsumers.org/articles/article_461.cfm), but choosing that over food for those who need it. http://editorialcartoonists.com/cartoons/BensoL/2008/BensoL20080416_low.jpg

Another facet to this is explained in this Freakonomics article on altruism, and compares giving to overseas vs. national disasters.
http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/05/13/how-pure-is-your-altruism/

Part of this problem is the complete lack of awareness, let alone compassion for others outside our borders. One of my favorite jokes is this: What do you call someone who can speak two languages? Bilingual. What do you call someone who can only speak one language? American.

Sure, water your houseplants. But also take the time and energy to educate yourself and your children about the larger world and those who may not look exactly like you. Altruism, including giving money toward these causes, can actually benefit yourself – wonderful how we’re made like that.
http://tierneylab.blogs.nytimes.com/2008/03/20/yes-money-can-buy-happiness/

Frank Sands said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Frank Sands said...

@ change-man: As soon as I read "but as the sole world power left standing, I think we do have responsibilities", I wrote a whole lengthy rant about how the world is doing just fine and doesn't need any more intervention from the US. That teaches me to read someone's comment to the end, as a matter of fact, that's why the comment above was deleted.

I think it's very good for everyone to know what's happening outside your country, but I would just say that the US *does not* have a responsability with the rest of the world, I mean, not in the way that is promoted by the Media. If the US wants to help other countries there are proper channels for that, albeit they're used so scarcely.

I think that being a Brazilian, I really get pissed off with all that "American" thing that I don't buy till today, let alone the rest of the US propraganda.

Brent said...

This may be my favorite one you've ever done -- and that's saying something. This says an awful lot in only a few words.

change-man said...

Thanks for your feedback Frank. I appreciate the perspective from outside the borders of the USA.

I agree with you that what the USA most often exports are our values, not only our help. Please don't confuse me with someone who supports our current foreign policy of strong handed intervention. I'm speaking to when there are situations like these current tragedies in Myanmar and China, and the USA offers little in terms of relief support, letting politics get in the way. We are not responsible to push our values on others - I'm not saying that - YIKES, considering what we have done and continue to do in many parts of the globe, I'm not all that proud to hold a US passport.

However, I do think the the US as well as others, are responsible to reach out. I think this article (from 2004) points out the false idea that the USA is generous with aid overseas. My bet is it has gotten worse since then.

http://www.boston.com/news/world/asia/articles/2004/12/31/global_analysts_dispute_perceived_us_generosity/

For those who won't read the link, here's a brief quote about aid to tsunami relief effort as of December 31, 2004:

"As of yesterday, the amount the United States has pledged is eclipsed by the $96 million promised by Britain, a country with one-fifth the population, and by the $75 million vowed by Sweden, which amounts to $8.40 for each of its 9 million people. Denmark's pledge of $15.6 million amounts to roughly $2.90 per capita.
The US donation is 12 cents per capita."

phila said...

Your post title is the #1 reaction to news from the developing countries (I don't like the term 3rd world, that makes it sound like we are something better)...

Bla said...

Oh...

change-man said...

Nice comment Phila - yeah, I don't like 1st world or 3rd world - developing world is so much better.

And now thinking some more, the title and content compares "taking care" of plants and the developing world. Instead of seeing the USA as the gardener or housekeeper of the plants (and developing world) which too often we become with spraying our poisonous weed-kill (our cultural values, products, ways of life...), I think it would be more effective to see us as members of a larger ecosystem, one in which when one suffers, all can suffer, even if we don't connect the dots so quickly as Will Hunting.

Look to 2:44 in this clip -
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnp8VDc8MEc

Josh said...

holy crap. good one jessica, but all you commentors...blah blah blah blah. and even more holy crap to phila and change-man for their discussion on using the term "developing countries" instead of "third world." you two are some of the most righteous, benevolent motherfuckers i've ever read...reminds me of this blog post: http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/2008/05/28/101-being-offended/

Taylor said...

I think it works better as social introspection.

Paul said...

not cool at all

BS said...

I think it's hilarious. And I am from the 3rd world.

Ben said...

To be honest, the term "developing" is no better than "3rd World." "Developing" implies that the only way to achieve a healthy and flourishing civilization is through industrialization - a very Western ideology.
I'm not condemning the use of either term; they're a necessity of language when it comes to discussing world politics. However, to say that one is better than the other is naive. Yes, "developing" is more politically correct than "3rd world," but they essentially imply the same idea: that the West still views itself as the ideal model of civilization.

Ryan said...

That one really cuts to the quick. Perfect.

platkat said...

Am I a total asshole for laughing at this?

Nathan said...

Wow, what an excellent site. Have you read confessions of an economic hitman by John Perkins?

His opinions are a little inaccurate, but the facts are accurate. His newer book that just came out is absolutely required reading for those that prefer revolution over illusion.

poorman'srihanna said...

ummm, change-man, i think you missed the entire point of this post, but if you had stopped and thought about it for a second i guess you wouldn't have had the opportunity for the long-winded rant.

I don't think this was about "American responsibility" but about the media (i.e., "News").

Anyway, this was a great post!

Chaz said...

http://elitist-idiot.blogspot.com/2008/05/indulgence-by-proxy.html

(x, why?) said...

Just an addendum:

That 12 cent per capita donation from the U.S. was from the federal government alone and doesn't include the millions more donated directly from the American people.

Anonymous said...

zune

Nirav Kanodra said...

Sums up the way Americans view rest of the world.

But again rest of the world might not need America to sort out everything (and may be spoil it further, remember Afghanistan, Iran vs Iraq war, Vietnam??)

Suzie said...

Nicely done. Sums it up, pretty much!

Anonymous said...

Great post. Thanks for an excellent site.

OnlyMatthew said...

haha ouch, dry and witty.

wei yen said...

Hey, not all of us are brown! Sheesh.

Some of us are yellow too...

Death (a.k.a the "Grim Reaper") said...

This one was very clever. Nice work.


http://death-sentences.blogspot.com/

THE HIVE said...

marry me, marry us

Christian Melgarejo said...

Well I'm from a 3rd world country, and i have to say that news from "1st world" countries are exactly dead, ignored and brown to me...

When will people come to realize we are ALL in the same piece of rock cruising in the space? dangit...

Anonymous said...

I do agree that its all semantics. I mean, if you really think theres something wrong, maybe you should actually do something about it. Or maybe you do, I don't know. I mean, I guess "doing things" only works when there's something to be done. I have no idea.
But I have to say, Josh provides an interesting commentary on the discussion.

de-adiction said...

Wonderful to read this blog

nutmeg96 said...

This is the most poignant index card I've ever seen. Regardless of the motivation/reasons/etc. so lengthily detailed in the first comment, the card is still true. As is the title.

Onny Chatterjee said...

Could you please put this one on a shirt?

chiya said...

This one made me laugh. Not because it's funny or anything, just because it's true.

The Fat Girl Inside said...

dang!

Music said...

What do you mean?

 
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