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Sunday, May 4, 2008

Sunday Offering #55: It's Time for America to Care.

Where is the justice of political power if it executes the murderer and jails the plunderer, and then itself marches upon neighboring lands, killing thousands and pillaging the very hills?
Kahlil Gibran

Time for Americans to care about others

04/05/2008 05:02:00 PM GMT

It’s past time to care – about treating people as lesser humans, poverty, wealthy hoarding, and the environment.

It’s past time to care about treating people as lesser humans, about poverty, the environment and educating people.

By Paul J. Balles

The United States is the most powerful among the technically advanced countries in the world today. It’s influence on the shaping of international relations is absolutely incalculable. But America is a large country, and its people have so far not shown much interest in great international problems. – Albert Einstein.

It's an atrocity what is being perpetrated as punishment on the people in Gaza. It's a crime... I think it is an abomination that this continues to go on," - President Jimmy Carter, during his recent visit to the Middle East.

Who cares? Certainly not Americans, who have been bludgeoned by the propaganda that shouts that “Hamas does not recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounce violence”.

Then there are the details of what an Israeli did and saw others do as an enlisted soldier in Hebron, reported by Donald Macintyre in the Independent:

They are certainly criminal: the incidents in which Palestinian vehicles are stopped for no good reason, the windows smashed and the occupants beaten up for talking back – for saying, for example, they are on the way to hospital; the theft of tobacco from a Palestinian shopkeeper who is then beaten "to a pulp" when he complains; the throwing of stun grenades through the windows of mosques as people prayed.

Who cares? Not the Israeli settlers in Palestine who are stealing Palestinian land with the support of the military might of both Israel and the USA.

One-third of the world barely survives and dies in poverty. With the rising prices of basic staples, the poor are getting poorer. According to the UN, 1 billion people are living at the margins of survival on less than 1 U.S. dollar a day, with 2.6 billion – 40 per cent of the world’s population – living on less than 2 U.S. dollars a day.

Who cares? Not the governments that busily pour the wealth of nations into war machines to satisfy the hunger for power of the wealthy and their emperors.

Ice sheets in Antarctica have been breaking up as the ozone layer becomes thinner from the effects of pollution of the atmosphere and global warming.

Who cares? Not the corporate moguls of the biggest energy wastrels in the world who would have to invest in energy-saving and environmentally-friendly technology. Let's be honest. If you've read this far, how much have you really learned about greenhouse gasses, climate change and the other threats to the environment? How many realize or care that America is the major contributor to climate change and the poor countries and communities will bear the brunt?

Reporting on U.S. government interference in Latin America, investigative journalist John Pilger has written:

...the world's dominant power is waging a largely unreported war on another continent – Latin America. Using proxies, Washington aims to restore and reinforce the political control of a privileged group calling itself middle class, to shift the responsibility for massacres and drug trafficking away from the psychotic regime in Colombia and its Mafiosi, and to extinguish hopes raised among Latin America's impoverished majority by the reform governments of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

Who cares? Nobody but a few Latin Americans and those in the U.S. government responsible for the interference. Where does this carelessness originate? New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has commented on what the educational system in America has contributed to uncaring Americans, saying:

Ignorance in the United States is not just bliss, it's widespread. A recent survey of teenagers by the education advocacy group Common Core found that a quarter could not identify Adolf Hitler, a third did not know that the Bill of Rights guaranteed freedom of speech and religion, and fewer than half knew that the Civil War took place between 1850 and 1900.

Who cares? Obviously not parents, the educational system or the government.

About American's lack of interest in international problems, Einstein concluded,

This must be changed, if only in America's own interest. The last war has shown that there are no longer any barriers between the continents and that the destinies of all countries are closely interwoven. The people of this country must realize that they have a great responsibility in the sphere of international politics. The part of passive spectator is unworthy of this country and is bound in the end to lead to disaster all round. – (in an interview in the Nieuwe Rotterdamsche Courant, 1921).

It’s past time to care – about treating people as lesser humans, about poverty, power hungry warriors, wealthy hoarding, the environment and educating people.

-- Paul J. Balles is a retired American university professor and freelance writer who has lived in the Middle East for many years. For more information, see This article appeared in Redress Information & Analysis.


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