Thursday, May 15, 2008

Golfing for Burma?

On Saturday May 17th, thousands of people will gather across the world to call for the international community to intervene in the humanitarian crisis in Burma. Demonstrations and vigils will be held to urge world governments and the United Nations to intervene by supplying aid to the 1.7 million people affected by Cyclone Nargis.

The Burmese military regime has consistently blocked the international community from providing food, water and medical supplies to the areas hardest hit by the cyclone. Hundreds of thousands of people are at risk of death through starvation, dehydration and preventable diseases such as malaria and diarrhea.

Burma’s rulers have turned a wholly humanitarian concern into a political issue, neglecting the very real needs of their citizens to meet their own political ends. Disaster relief specialists are waiting for access to the country, and thousands of tons of aid are ready to be distributed. It is only due to the government’s obstruction that a comprehensive relief effort is not currently underway. The international community must step up and take decisive action to save millions of lives that are currently hanging in the balance.

It has been a positive step that the international community has discussed the option of critical intervention, however this is not enough. Decisive action needs to be taken. Governments around the world need to make the vital decision to save millions of lives, by whatever means possible. Likewise, it is imperative for the friends of Burma’s military regime in the international community to initiate dialogue pressuring the junta to open the country’s borders for an international relief effort to get underway.

The above is taken directly from the web site. I learned of it through a Facebook group calling for everyone to change their profile pictures to the graphic above. I'm all for taking action either through direct protest or direct donation, though frankly, it's hard for me to believe that any of the money will actually get to these suffering souls in the form of meaningful aid.

The Facebook awareness idea seems a little silly to me, as do a few of the events taking place in the United States such as the Fund Raising Happy Hour at the Ultra Bar in Washington, DC. A happy hour? Really? UC San Diego will be selling wristbands, t-shirts and buttons to raise money. I hope they're not made in China. Haven't we as a nation been inundated with enough useless rubber bracelets and
catchy slogans on t-shirts? Probably the silliest event is golfing for cyclone relief in Michigan.

I'm not knocking the efforts of the people who have the best of intentions in organizing these events. Their hearts are truly in the right place. The point I'm trying to make here is this - why do we as Americans have to be enticed with recreational activities to donate money toward relieving the suffering of millions? Has our culture become so Romanized that unless we are stuffing our guts, participating in sport or trying to look hip with the latest sound bite plastered across our chests and/or wrists that giving to a cause just isn't worth our while? What's in it for us, right?

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