Finding the Human in Humanitarian
I don't know if I was dropped on my head as an infant or if I was just exposed to way too many microwaves growing up, but I've always seen the world a little differently. I never see just the good when everyone else is applauding, and I rarely write something off as completely bat shit crazy or evil when everyone else is up in arms. It's both a gift and a curse. Maybe it's just how Chinese people think? You know, a little bit of yin in every yang, and vice versa.
Case in point, Typhoon Haiyan rocked southeast Asia and devastated parts of the Philippines. Thousands are reported to be dead or missing, though the specific figures will no doubt change in the months to come. But that's just it; in the months to come, will humanity still care? No, we won't. Most of us will have moved on to something else, something no doubt stupid like twerking.
Am I being an asshole? No, I think it's a very tragic event but it will be removed from our global (aka WESTERN) consciousness in a matter of weeks. Why? Because the Philippines don't have anything over-industrialized nations can fight over during the rebuilding process. We'll interfere for months, YEARS even, in areas of the world where there's some resource to exploit; THAT will dominate airwaves in the long term. We'll still bring up Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, and so forth because there's something to be gained but the Philippines will be a distant memory in no time. Why? Because the Philippines were already gouged by international "saviours" centuries ago. Everyone seems to forget that it's called the Philippines because of Spanish imperialism and that the United States once "liberated" and then added the Philippines as it's first real overseas colony. It didn't last. Hoardes of Filipinos left in the aftermath to make up some of the earliest "Asian" immigrants to the Americas. THESE people will still care months from now but the rest of us won't.
When was the last time you heard a progress report about the 2008 Sichuan earthquake in China that killed almost 70,000 people? Or the relief effort in Haiti? Darfur? New Orleans? Does anyone care about what's going on in Burma with regards to the Rohingya? Government response times and "concern" seems to vary according to where they can gain traction. Due to a very sizeable Filipino population, particularly in Toronto, Canada vows to match donations dollar for dollar. Are we similarly looking to "relieve" the "Natives" suffering as a result of the Lake St. Martin flood? Is the Canadian government's tardy response time dominating headlines right now? No because aboriginal issues make us uncomfortable; they point to the reality that we shoved these original inhabitants of our country into the fringes where it ... floods! Not to mention the government let the town flood to "save" the more important city of Winnipeg. No one likes to be reminded that they live on stolen ground; hence, why Canada stays out of the Palestine issue and the Gaza strip. It's simply better "PR" to be one of the leading nations in sending "humanitarian" relief to places where the international community can't question our very own humanity.
By all means, send money; it is a tragedy. But don't forget the people suffering in our own backyards. I don't think it's right that we have people living under Third World conditions in our supposedly wealthy First World nation. We had enough money to spend over $1 BILLION dollars on a shit show for the G20 Summit, a summit where they donated a mere fart in the wind by comparison towards the social improvement of women and children, and yet you can't give our own refugees more than $4 a day? In fact, the vast majority of the nations involved in said summit are the leading consumers of trafficked women. Does Canada or the United States pursue the disgusting pedophiles that frequently visit the Philippines for "sexual tourism"? These leave a far more long term impact on social health than any typhoon, particularly in a region of the world that should be used to dealing with these events. But I forgot it's "global warmings" fault, right? Let's spend more money at a summit talking about shit that's too late to do anything about. Let's not bother moving people in anticipation of the how the world will look twenty years from now.
We're only human for as long as there are benefits to appearing as such; then it's just back to jockeying for position and interfering where it best suits our long term needs, however near-sighted they may be; that is, unless we happen to have relatives to worry about.
Yes, I'm an insensitive jerk.