Sunday, July 31, 2011
Somalia: Failed State, Famine, Forget it?
I woke up at 5AM on Wednesday, July 20th and read the news that famine had been declared in Somalia. The reasons for the famine are being debated and discussed. But, because this is a tragedy of, largely, human making, does that mean we are absolved of the responsibility for caring for those affected?
Can we simply chalk this famine up to the policies of a failed state, wash our hands and walk away? What, realistically can they expect? Our own governments are struggling with debt; we have less disposable income than we did ten years ago. We have our own natural disasters to contend with, we can't help everyone, all the time.
That may be true. But, if you have $20 that you can spend on leisure activities then you really can make a difference and you can save a life. We hear much about how we are living in a "global community," with a global economy. I guess it's great to say you're part of a community and it makes us feel better to be connected with our "brothers" and "sisters" around the world but if we turn a blind eye to them when they're dying what kind of a community are we creating?
Yes, Somalia is complicated. No, there are no easy solutions. But, this is not the time for debate about "why" this famine has occurred. This is not the time to find blame. This is the time to "do to others what you would have them do to you." So, the question you have to ask is: if you were starving, what would you want someone having bbq steak do for you?