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General Interest

THERE IS A BETTER WAY

If you want to know how somebody feels when something terrible happens to them or is done to them, just remember how you felt when bad things happened to you. That's how they feel. They might seem different to you, maybe they're the opposite sex, maybe their skin tone is different, or the clothes they wear seem odd to you or they practice a different religion than the ones you're used to. Maybe they live in a nation far away and seemingly completely very different from the place where you live. How can you possibly know how such a person would feel?

Simple. People are people, and they haven't introduced any new models lately. What you feel, they feel. What you want, they want. How you would react in any given situation, they react the same. In many respects they are just like you. The differences between any set of human beings anywhere are minimal, our similarities far greater. When we forget that, then it is easy to hurt others or to do nothing when they are suffering. That is how we justify war and that is how it came to be on this bountiful planet that 36,000 people die every single day from starvation.

Every 2.4 seconds somebody somewhere on this earth succumbs to starvation, a slow and agonizingly painful death. By contrast, the brutal act of warfare is merciful, death coming swiftly and without prolonged suffering. Yet when we wail and gnash our teeth about man's inhumanity to man, it is almost always warfare we are talking about. While war is a horrible state of affairs, there has never been one in all of our history that has killed 36,000 people every single day, not even World War 2 with its forty million killed in six years. At 36,000 a day, in six years 80 million perish, without a single army mobilized, one bomb dropped or a shot being fired in anger and rage. This is passive warfare, and the death toll is 1,414,000 per year forever if we do nothing about it.

How can this change? Do the huge numbers involved numb our senses to this disaster? Are we somewhere in the back of our minds convinced that the people who are dying are somehow "different" and thus not worth saving? Well, you and I are different too, from somebody. Does that mean you're not worth saving? Most starvation victims are children under the age of 5. How different are they from our own children? Don't they like to run around and play and tease each other like other kids? Don't they look to their parents for love and protection? Don't their eyes light up at every new discovery in this fascinating world like children everywhere? Isn't the death of even one of our magical children a tragedy beyond words? To allow it to happen 36,000 times a day is far beyond cruel, it is simply monstrous.

And yet we are not monsters, we are people, the great majority of us good and decent and loving people who would never intentionally do harm to another human being, nor would we stand idly by while one among us withers and dies for lack of food. And in America, that simply never happens anymore. It used to, though. Before President Lyndon Johnson introduced Food Stamps and other social programs to help our nation's poor, there actually were starvation deaths in the United States of America, as hard as that is to fathom in a nation so blessed with nature's bounty. But before we could share this bounty with our poor people, we had to change our perceptions of who they ware. It turned out they were us; our brothers, our sisters, our precious children. We changed our hearts and changed lives.

So one way to change the fate of the world's starving masses is to change our attitude towards them. They are our brothers and sisters and children no less than our immediate neighbors. And we have, and many other nations have, plenty of food to go around. But America has to lead by example, start sending in the Peace Corp instead of the Marine Corps to troubled lands. Huge swaths of Africa is the American Midwest waiting to happen when it comes to farming. They have the climate, the water and the fertile land. The Peace Corps can teach them how to farm that land and feed their people, this year and every year.

In India and China, where half the world's starvation victims live, the same help should be offered, no matter how repellent we consider their governments. Trade with these nations should be tied to the how well they treat our fellow humans within their borders. They have the resources to feed them, but their governments have other priorities. Both of these nations export food while millions of their citizens starve until they die horribly.

When a government puts other priorities above their own starving children, they are no government at all, merely a power structure in place to benefit the powerful few. The international community needs to recognize this and treat those governments accordingly. If everyone is a citizen of the world who just happens to be living with one nation or another, that changes our perception of who those people are and forces us to insist that their governments take proper care of "our" people. There should be no "internal matters" or inviolate sovereignty when it comes to nations killing their own citizens either actively or passively.

The United Nations needs to stop breaking the balls of Western Democracies and instead start picking their brains. It's no accident that Western nations have no starving people in them. It took hard work, planning, insight and caring deeply about the welfare of their citizens to build societies that don't bury a large percentage of their populations every single day because no one would feed them. These are the nations that must show the staving countries generosity, not only with food but with education, expertise and training. There's wisdom in the cliche: "Feed a man a fish, feed him once. Teach him to fish, feed him for life."

Donate to one of the thousands of charities who fight starvation and its root causes. Investigate their track record for effectiveness first, of course, so you're not throwing your money away on a fraudulent charity. Go to www.CharityNaqvigator.org to see which ones do what they say they will do. Also, let our American government know that America needs to do more to end this passive genocide. We need to fight no more wars, gain no territory or global advantages. America is in good shape food and money wise, even with all the failures of the past 8 years. We are still America, and we still stand for something good and beautiful in this world. And if anyone should understand "different" peoples, it is Americans, since our nation was built on people from every other nation. If we want to lead the world again, let it be in an area everyone can respect; feeding the starving, giving life where there has been so much death and defending the defenseless. Let's feed those hungry kids and let their smiles and their wonder-filled eyes be our reward.

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