Speaking of action…

By | March 12, 2008

If the March weather puts you off tramping up and down O’Connell St, try this instead…

Yes its Lent. I didn’t give up anything but I did put the Trocaire box on the (now compulsory in a modern Irish kitchen) Island Unit. M has a habit of leaving his change scattered there and it gets in my way when I start my neurotic polishing of the horrendously expensive granite worktop. SO, Trocaire benefits because instead of transferring the change into my purse, it goes into the Box. He protests occasionally and rifles through it for toll money. Needless to say I guilt trip him about STEALING money from the poor Africans. He suggests I put in some of my own. I contribute online I tell him. Oh, and the lectures have started to my boys about poor people and how we are rich and have to give them money and clothes and food. J asked “and do the boys and girls in Africa have Mammies and Daddies?” I said yes. Even though they don’t. He is sensitive and would worry about them. I want to be aware but not upset. He’s collecting toys to give them. Sigh.

ANYWAY a core part of Trocaire’s annual lenten campaign is Political Action. (though everyone only copped onto this last year when the BCI banned their ad for the FIRST time ever as it was political, but it was also about wimmin..muttter mutter). So, go here send the email and let them know we care about something other than pylons and high rise buildings and Centres of Excellence every 50 miles of the road…..

21 thoughts on “Speaking of action…

  1. Gerry

    children in africa don’t have mammies and daddies? what are you talking about? a lot of what we teach our children about africa and were thought ourselves is really quite damaging and hard wires the notion of of Africa as the basket case we give spare change to. Literally. be sure you are giving them a rounded picture – not just the picture on the side of the trocaire box. well meaning but i think it probably does more harm than good.

  2. Joseph

    I agree with Gerry that Trocaire does more harm than good [ In the long run and in the big scheme of things] as do all these charity corporations [such as goal etc ] plus all the other small charity business/industry enterprises.

    However the comment about getting a rounded picture seems odd to say the least.I mean are you suggesting that Africa is not a basket case? perhaps you feel Africa is a continent with many role model nations and a spearhead of human progress and enlightenment? I beg to differ as despite all available and massive evidence to the contrary you might be right and I could be wrong. [Fat chance!] for I am rarely wrong!

    I either don’t know enough on a subject [in which case I limit my assertions] or I am invariably just right! or at least closer to the truth than the sheep who don’t take the trouble to inform themselves of enough facts.

    Well in order fix a problem one has to be able to see it for what it is. In the case of Africa it is indeed a huge disaster zone. Use any human indicator and you can see soon enough how wide is the gulf between Africa and the rest of the world and in particular the first world countries of the west etc

    As for the reasons for this and the reason history has brought us to this reality? Well that is a huge debate in of itself and the answers are not pretty! or encouraging. Then when it comes to the solutions? Well again that is another huge debate. What I would limit myself to saying now is that we have more than enough evidence that all the methods and approaches used thus far have failed miserably when see in totality. Just as the war on drugs is a failure and as was prohibition so too has the creation and growth of the charity industry to an obscene extent.

    Whereas before we had the religious industry fulfilling this role [and still do] plus the perpetuating of the cycle of backwardness and human tragedy now the CEOs of the big charity companies and the various NGOs and vested interests make a great effort to continue on with their disastrous strategy.

    In short while it is good to teach kids right and wrong and make them aware of how lucky they are that they happen to live in a rich country. Having them continue the cycle is not the way forward and of little use to either those we would like to see doing better or themselves. If EVERYONE simply made an effort to be that bit nicer to those close to them then indeed the world would be so much a better place.

    As for Africa? Sadly it is doomed but then again so is humankind ultimately. The tragedy is that as Africa “comes here” along with the rest of the world it will all end up in a mess anyway eventually. [“here” being the first world richer countries]

    Sterilization and eugenics may eventually save the day but by then we may have had to lose so much of our humanity that it will be too late and irrelevant. Of course I don’t mean this will happen any time soon but it is only a matter of time. Give it 50 years or even less and the scale of human disaster and tragedy will become all too apparent.

    Suffice to say I would never support the likes of Trocaire no matter what, for as the saying goes. THE ROAD TO HELL IS PAVED WITH GOOD INTENTIONS

  3. Alan Whelan

    Africa needs a lot more than charity. It needs better trading conditions – Ireland as part of the EU is complicit in stopping Africa from making progress on that front. We can exercise a modest influence by arguing for better trade deals for African countries.

    By contributing to increasing carbon emissions, we are partly responsible for climate change which is causing increased flooding and drought in Africa. We can do something about this too by reducing our carbon emissions.

    Yes African corruption is partly responsible for its problems. Poverty breeds corruption which breeds poverty. But the West also aids corruption and exploitation by facilitating the transfer of money to dodgy swiss bank accounts or allowing Western companies to exploit oil or diamonds in African countries without much benefit to the general population of those countries.

    By closing our eyes and ears to our role in this and our potential to do something about it, we do more harm than good.

    Charities have not and cannot solve Africa’s problems. They can raise awareness of some of these issues and their programmes can contribute at a micro level to improving the lives of some people. Its better than nothing. Sure, some charities are good, some are bad. Sometimes they get it wrong, sometimes they get it right.

    But when people assert that Africa is ‘doomed’, I wonder do they forget the economic and social conditions Europeans lived under little over half a century ago – when most of us had no electricity or water or education.

    Change is possible and we can contribute to it.

    Re Gerry’s comment. I think Sarah was referring to the millions of African children who have been made orphans by AIDS – i would suggest the sentence was not to be taken literally.

    On the disclosure front, yes, I do work for Trocaire and i’m proud it of it.

  4. Sarah Post author

    I was thinking about the AIDS orphans. An entire generation has been wiped out in some areas and grandparents are rearing the grandchildren. It’s a huge problem: the able bodied generation is decimated.

    As for charity, if someone is hungry, you can’t start lecturing them on the macroeconomic disasters that have put them in their position. You have to feed them.

    Trade is the way out and the EU, China and US aren’t helping there e.g. putting tarriffs on processed goods but lower ones on raw materials.
    Finally, where do you think those corrupt African dictators stash their money? Switzerland. Home Of Davos.

    I have to say, I am inclined to agree with Naomi Klein on this one: Bono should be outside the gates shouting instead of inside the gates legitimising the politicians and billionaires who help the bastards hide the money.

    sigh. back to marching again then…..

  5. Joseph

    I laughed when I read the stuff about carbon emissions and then aids and all manner of red herrings. then there was Europe so many years ago etc etc? Well that is all beside the point.

    Lets see floods and drought? That is the least of the problems for Africa. It is one of the most fertile places on the planet! As for aids and Sarah talking about the terrible loss of life etc? That is an emotional reply and though understandable on a certain level it is the very sort of nonsense which totally misses the point.

    Why do I say this? Well lets just test out this crazy notion about poor Africa losing all those people to Aids blah blah [ I so bore of this] or even famine blah blah blah.

    yeah there was live aid and there was this aid and that aid and who knows what is next aid blah blah blah eh How come there is STILL a population explosion? Tribalism that is rampant! Kenya being the latest tragic example of the sort of savagery which is too often frequently the norm when things get a bit heated. And Kenya being the rare model of progress by comparison with the other African nations. But hang on there is one successful economy plus society – sort of. yeah South AFRICA and yet even there we find that aids is about 22 percent and it is the top country [or one of the top three or four] for murders rapes and who knows what else .

    Oddly enough this seems to work along racial lines too! [which is a pity but sadly so true] And weirdly enough it is not the “white/pinky people” who are mostly the victims etc etc Nah again it is poor Black people doing what Black people tend to do in Africa. Now it would be easy to blame the “White man” and trawl through history and a portion blame.

    This may be true and fair to say but it will not change the reality for the poor Africans now living with the legacy. then again when Africans complain now about the west etc etc they do so in the knowledge that when they were ruled by the Europeans they probably were better off, or at least as the White Europeans became ever more enlightened and civilized or progressive then this might have also been reflected back in how they treated the natives. they might have been able to bring Africans along top the point that there was nothing holding back Africa or Africans from realizing their potential.

    Instead it has all gone to hell and has no prospect of getting back to any path of progress? Solution? Well sterilization and population control. Direct fascist/totalitarian rule for a while a re-molding of the people centered on education and instilling values and ethics which at least aspire to the western standards we aspire to.In other words direct rule by the west with a view to eventually bringing real and worthwhile meaningful civilization and standards.

    Yes it is draconian and there will be many problems but in the long run, just like the “Soviet” people were first serfs and very backward in too many areas of their society so to can and evolution take place which will transform into something truly progressive like a good democracy and proper society.

    It seems so harsh it is true but in the long run it may be best for Africa and the Africans themselves.Order and stability not chaos is what is required to save Africa. Eventually this will lead to real equality between nations and races and we wont be side tracked down blind alleys and cul de sacs which hold no true prospect of success.

    So lets stop with the charity crap and start with the sterilization programs and devise ways to engineer a way to create a society strong and idealistic enough to start to some sort of new imperial standard. Imperialism that cares! Imperialism thats is practical and in the long run will benefit all. Those countries who can actually function properly we support through trade and those that don’t we take over and run. We are creative enough to create all manner of pretexts for such a process so it becomes politically ok.

    One thing is for sure, the net misery and general bad from such a course would be a lot less bad than the current course of human history.

  6. Tom N

    Too much focus on equality…Africa is not a black hole…best thing we could is support real democracy and change. However in the meantime Trocaire is a wonderful organisation.

  7. Joseph

    “Trocaire is a wonderful organisation”

    Actually no it is not! It is in fact the very epitome of what is wrong. It is a self perpetuating company and organization which is a major player in the “charity” industry.

  8. Tom N

    Are you advocating tough love? The problems facing many parts of Africa are very real and very immediate. If you practice tough love, some people will die before your eyes. Are you advocating that they should be sacrificed? Also this non charity approach will only work where it can be guaranteed that investment to improve lives won’t be misappropriated by military and militia. Very hard to do.
    We’ve heard it all before.
    If Aids is a problem, why don’t they spend just 1% of their military budget on condoms and education? Poor drinking water causing disease? The cost of putting in a clean water system, even in the remotest parts is still only a fraction of the cost of one helicopter gunship. There is a perpetual supply of solar energy. Solar energy generators could easily power sanitation in villages, irrigation of crops etc.
    All very valid points, but while we discuss these people are dying so get over yourself. Trocaire, like so many organisations does excellent work. Many sub-saharan countries need military intervention. But they also need charity.

  9. Joseph

    Wrong Trocaire and their like are part of the problem! yes it is tough and yes there will be misery but as I say the NET misery will be so much less if we get rid of the whole approach of the last x amount of years and ever increasing charity industry and business.

    Simple question At what point do you suppose any charity biz will say something like ah yeah fair enough our work is done here!

    Thats the real point it is self perpetuating and ultimately holds back Africa and its people. let Africa fend for itself which INCLUDES NOT SELLING ANY ARMS WHATSOEVER

  10. Tom N

    “Net Misery will be much less”….are you saying that by removing charity, they will somehow magically follow modern economic philosophies? Sorry Darfurians, but in order to restore economic balance it’s tough titties for you guys. Certainly the economic cost of burying a few thousand of you will be less than than that of keeping you alive. Then when you are dead, I will sleep soundly knowing that stability has been brought about by reducing your dependence on charity. And after years of trying to get them to stop, arms dealers in the west will realise the error of their ways.
    BS what you need to realistic incrememntal change, brought about with help of other nations and NGOs like Trocaire. Key is sustained growth through education and investment. Couple with righteous military to protect the weak. No one group has a solution, but laissez faire economics does not work either. I am an out and out capitalist, but you only reap rewards where you invest.

  11. Tom N

    To answer your question: the charities will never stop and say enough, because it is a problem without an end.
    However that does not mean that you try to incrementally improve things.

  12. Joseph

    More rubbish! Thinking in just economic terms.

    Lets just get out of Africa and stop interfering in all manner of ways, not least of which is charity nonsense- an ever growing industry which has given birth to countless offshoots.

    I say yes there will be chaos and all manner of human tragedy but LET IT BE! It is not our problem and unless the west is willing to take complete control of the running of these mickey mouse states then just leave them to it and make sure nobody sells any arms to anybody in Africa.

    Then after all the bloodshed or problems it will sort itself out or continue on for as long as it takes. All charities are a disgrace and an affront to human dignity and progress. It is inned a case of tough love so lets stop all the dishonest and hypocritical charity crap.

    Take a look at the homes of John O Shea and the Arnold guy and u know all oo well it is not about charity but about jobs and careers subsidized by the guilt of the sheep that pass as the great Irish public.

    No it is not nice to have to admit the harsh reality but there you go! Just imagine for a moment I am right? Well that would be very uncomfortable wouldn’t it?

  13. Tom N

    That’s analagous to saynig that the internet is a bad thing because it is full of porn. It is also full of great resources, medical information, wonderful websites like this. Nobody disputes the fact that some people have done very well out of it. I hate “chuggers” when trying to do some shopping and being guilted simply cause I bought something expensive. It drives me mad. I also agree that some people get guilted into giving away too much money, to their own detriment. However, where I suggest drawing a line in the sand, you seem to be suggesting that you should not give a penny.
    If all charity were to be pulled out of sub-Saharan Africa it would go to hell in a hand basket. It would eventually recover, but not in my lifetime, or yours. A few hundred years down the line maybe? In the meantime it needs help.

  14. Joseph

    In the meantime you prefer to prop up whole system and mindset which by its very nature may have well meaning aspects/intentions [most certainly does really] but ultimately does not to alter the reality or long term prospects.

    You are right to mention long term as opposed to short term issues. I agree it wont be in my lifetime but so bit! Let the chips fall were they may EVENTUALLY things will either right themselves or they wont. But at least it will have a chance to evolve and become whatever it is meant to be. A curious example might be the following:

    Before the “White man” ever went to OZ there was a place inhabited by the Aboriginal people. They have been there for thousands of years yet no Beethoven or Bach or Proust Joyce etc etc.

    Nothing wrong with that? It just is as it is. They have their own kind of civilization born of their own environment and circumstances. One could say they were neither better or worse than what the White man and other more advanced and sophisticated societies were. Just different albeit far more backward in relative terms of technology and civilization. No chance of them inventing a radio or putting a man on the moon,but fair enough perhaps we place too much stock in these things anyway? Still the tragedy is that the white man being not nearly as concientious as nowadays and a lot less advanced than nowadays, he goes in and basically plunders the whole land over time and in the process virtually destroys all things aboriginal leaving them marginalized and more or less irrelevant to what goes on in the whole land.

    Morality having little to do with it. In other words the Aboriginal people get screwed! Similar tale in the whole of the Americas with the distinction being that in what we know as the USA and Canada the native population almost gets wiped out, at least in the S America the Europeans mix with the native indians and so a significant number of indian native people survive as a section of the population.

    It is all a very similar pattern from history and in the case of Afica too it was so huge and wild it could not be colonized, at least not in any great way. The sole exception being perhaps S Africa which managed to build up a population of Europeans to create real wealth etc etc.

    I could go on but u get the picture and see where this is going. Nobody says it was right that history and human civilizations developed as they did,but the realty is there. it would have been so much better had there been NON INTERFERENCE DIRECTIVE but there was none available and so we liv e with consequences of different levels of development etc etc

    No matter how much I might like Africa to be rich a successful, the sad fact is that it aint never gonna happen, At least not so long as we have this charity business . Take that away and they may grow up and out of their circumstances and develop a far better model for us to follow?

  15. Tom N

    So all you need to do to solve Africa’s problems is to get people like Sarah and myself throwing a couple of euros to concern so a village can buy a water pump, or chalk for a blackboard?
    If we eliminate these misguided good intentions, what is the next logical step?

  16. CG

    Tom I think Joseph’s next step would be to let 90% die of AIDS or starvation or the civil unrest that such circumstances would undoubtedly create.

    Joseph I know you probably think your philosophy (which essentially boils down to ‘survival of the fittest – the brown people are essentially inferior animals and we successful white folk don’t owe them anything!!’) is terribly new and creative of you. But it’s as old as the hills. If they were our equals, we wouldn’t be able to dominate them? They haven’t produced a Beethoven, so obviously they are totally different to us? What rubbish.

    For a start, your history is total balls. Plenty of the cultures European empires crushed were far more ‘advanced’ even by our standards. The Aztecs had the largest city in the world, but hadn’t got round to gunpowder. The Incas were conquered because of momentary internal political unrest – if Pizarro had shown up ten years later or ten years earlier, the history of South America would look VERY different (probably more like China). Oceania and North America were colonised millenia after Europe was so how can you possibly say that being in a different place, technology-wise, makes them backward (and that IS what you’re saying, for all you fall over yourself to say that oh, it is what it is, you’re just stating facts).

    South Africa succeeded because of the white people in it??? Are you mad or what? MOST African countries had a similar population of white people – were those white people lazy or what? S Africa became a wealthy country because of a favourable climate and a shitload of diamonds. Nothing to do with the fact that it clung to white rule a few decades after the rest of Africa had done away with it.

    At the end it boils down to two facts – Europe has succeeded because she has a fantastic climate that can support a dense population – which most African countries (and Australia) lack. She was colonised early and said dense population encourages a more rapid growth of technology etc – necessity the mother of invention and so forth.

    The second fact is that Africa is trying to deal with an economic and political system that was placed upon it by outside forces less than 200 years ago. Said systems had centuries – millenia even – to develop gradually in Europe. And even then their adoption caused a LOT of unrest. To make matters worse, Africans did not even have any control of these systems until the past 60 years or so – much less in some countries. Your solution ‘sure leave them alone, let them develop their own ‘civilisation’ without us’ comes far TOO LATE. They HAVE our systems – Europeans gave them (and Ireland is as culpable in this as the bigger nations, the Irish and Scots staffed the British Empire’s army and civil service abroad cos the English took the plum positions at home). Acting like it’s a sign of inferiority that they don’t grasp them as well as we do is moronic. They are in a totally different situation to Europe – a situation that WE have put them in.

    And we still keep them there! Sure Ireland is the CAP’s biggest supporter. When do we EVER hear, in Ireland, about the terrible damage it’s doing to farmers in Africa? People are dying because of it and we never pay the slightest heed. It wrecks their economy.

    We OWE these countries. WE have f’ed them up. Saying sure what do you expect, they never produced a Beethoven is about the stupidest way to look at things I can imagine. They never produced a DJ Carey either! God, aren’t they useless altogether, let’s just abandon them to die of starvation, disease, and genocide.

    ….and I really don’t know why I bothered doing this, since its something virtually all sensible people already know, and I have a strong suspicion Joseph is just imitating Crewser. But, whatever.

  17. Joseph

    Actually u are the one with some weird and factually incorrect notions and ideas. All you have done is twist and distort anything I wrote to project and reduce your own small and blinkered view of reality.

    Your comment about the aztecs etc being most apt – it is the same line we here about the noble indians and how all was fine before the white man arrived- they were somehow all great peace loving people of the land.of course we now now that this is just fantasy and the picture was far more complex. As for the Aztecs and the other S American indians. it is hogwash for you to try imagine them as being more advanced than the Europeans. their faith was sealed once the Europeans decided to go a roaming. They were screwed and were always going to be screwed! Your suggestion of anything different is laughable. It has nothing to do with white people being superior or inferior. Races [if such a thing can really be said to exist] are all equal as we are all human.

    What is not equal are the circumstances and forces which propel regions, civilizations and cultures to flourish and develop. The upshot is that the world has been dominated and shaped by the Europeans period. This hardly means they beyond learning from other cultures and civilizations or that there are many areas in which they would have been behind. What matters is that at the end of the day the totality of European dominance triumphed and sadly at the expense of natives in places all over the globe.

    As I said had their been NON INTERFERENCE DIRECTIVE then perhaps the world would have been spared the down side to all the European progress – and BTW the USA is merely an extension of Europa

    As for the Beethoven reference well sure we also have produced any amount of shite like J Carey but the enlightenment and the renaissance are still a fact. that no such thing has happened in the less advanced cultures and civilization. This has little to do with superiority or any stupid suggestion of survival of the fittest but rather sheer luck of the circumstances etc that allowed for the huge disparity in development from one place to the next..

    The point in relation to Africa is that you cannot reverse history and in trying to deny the reality and artificially try to drip feed Africa and treat it as an endless funnel in which to waste resource after resource.

    As for aids? actually 100 percent fatality would be ideal! As it would eradicate the virus all together. Ultimately we can not beat nature completely and it is only a matter of time before there is a pandemic of one sort or other which will wipe out hundreds of millions globally. However in the case of Africa the cycle of death is outweighed by the huge population increases anyway! So for all the tragedy Africa does rather well in the overall scheme of things! A net increase in the population! I am sure germany japan and Italy are jealous.

    As for the truly stupid comment about whites in Africa? Well there is no place else other than S Africa in which large scale and sustainable white colonization took place. Exception being Zimbab…. and Botswana Curiously Rhodesia done rather well until it became zimbab… while botswana is the next richest state after S Africa just do the research and compare the stats.

  18. Joseph

    The aztec were so great they were into human sacrifice! And they did not have anything like the largest city in the world

  19. CG

    Ah yes, everything black and white and good or bad. With everything Europe did great of course and everything those ignorant brown people did useless.

    Methinks you are definitely a Crewser now. I waste no more time on someone with such a little hold on spelling, grammar, and sanity.

    Except to point out that Tenochtitlan did indeed have a population of over 200,000 people, making it larger than any contemporary European cities – although the maize-based agriculture which supported it was very unreliable and the size of the city was certainly at the expense of the surrounding hinterland… hence the violence… the central point, that Europeans have by no means the monopoly on ‘civilisation’ even by our own narrow standards still stands.

    Anyway, enough of this stupidity. There’s nothing more boring than someone who thinks that his point is terribly original because it goes against the mainstream. The Victorians tried your approach Joseph, and it was abandoned for a reason.

  20. joe

    You can’t really have this debate without mentioning Jared Diamond’s books eg “Guns Germs and Steel” and “Collapse”. He deals in detail with the collision between the new and old worlds. The primary factor was the introduction of disease by europeans which ravaged the new world populations. This in turn was due the fact that eurasians had been exposed to domesticated animals and their diseases for millenia. For the reasons Diamond explains there were few domesticated animals in the americas.

    Another interesting case is easter island. Today some easter islanders blame the arrival of europeans for the collapse of their civilisation. In fact their civilisation collapsed all by itself long before europeans arrived. Essentially this isolated population cut down ALL of their trees in order to build bigger and better giant statues. Famine and war followed.

    Back to today. Africa needs more investment and less aid. Investment requires that decent institutions (legal, regulatory etc) exist. When the institutions there are strong enough (as in the case of South Africa) investment follows. I don’t see how the hoardes of guilt-tripping mid-life crisis westerners on african aid safari are advancing the cause of african prosperity.

  21. BarryBostwick

    Me thinks that CG has not only lost this debate, but also that he is the main culprit in the wrting rubbish stakes. Little of what he writes is sound.

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