It might seem strange when nearly October to cast an eye back to events of February  but the memory brings things into one’s head at strange moments and whilst watching one of the appeal adverts for aid needed in yet another disenfranchised part of the world I was reminded of Comic Relief.  When I watched it on the BBC earlier this year, as I always do, I found many of the films moving, disturbing and tragic, they highlight the utter injustice of a world that simply doesn’t give enough of a shit about itself and for that to show no signs of abating after thousands of years of human existence is a tragedy indeed.  For a disease like malaria, as but one example, to still be the killer it is must surely be regarded as one of the most damning indictments of our age and makes mockery of any pretence that we are any closer to being civilised society then we were 10,000 years ago.  I heard a statistic once that claimed malaria has killed more people throughout human history than all the other diseases put together.  I don’t know how true that is but when you consider how many millions die in the developing world from it and have done for centuries it doesn’t seem especially surprising.  What is surprising is that it is still allowed to proliferate with such ease when measures to prevent it are so easy and so cheap. Were they not to be so we would of course be suffering from it a great deal more in the Western world.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not so churlish as to say that the efforts of those trying to make a difference are not worthy of some appreciation, any assistance is better than nothing but to see people like Bob Geldoff and Bono cosy up to the same politicians who preside over the arms trades, the exploitative capitalist investments, the punitive interest payments, strikes me as either gross naivety or the most profane hypocrisy.  I’m afraid I suspect it is the latter.  It smacks to me a little of the Princess Diana argument, the populist media that portray what a philanthropic saint the woman was when in truth one would like to think that given a situation where we do not need to worry about a day job to provide accommodation, food on the table, education for our children or scrimping and saving for the scraps of holidays that we might all make an effort to do some laudable work with our time.  Diana found contrast in that the taxpayer has been paying vast sums of money to keep these out of touch freeloaders for generations.  And don’t you dare try to talk to me about the tourism angle, France gets tourism because of it’s efforts to remove its blue-blooded parasites.  But I digress.

Comic Relief sought to raise £5 million for 1 million mosquito nets which would massively reduce the potential infections of malaria, they achieved the desired amount ten-fold.  This is clearly a drop in the ocean but it is valid to try to at least do something for if it is not done people continue to die.  What this should highlight now is the hollow promises and lies our politicians have made in recent years with regard to alleviating the African poverty problem.  Herein also lies another problem, it is not just Africa where malaria is such a threat, though it is the area of the worst concentration, Central and South America, the Indian sub-continent, South East Asia remain areas at risk and where densely-populated regions of extreme poverty will provide easy pickings for diseases that thrive in conditions of malnutrition, dirty water and a lack of medical expertise and drugs.

Diseases such as smallpox that directly affected the developed world have been eradicated and a great many others such as Polio, Measles, Mumps, Rubella, Tetanus and Tuberculosis have vaccines that have led to the diseases becoming effectively a thing of the past, except where conditions of poverty remain.  Hygienic sewerage systems and drinking water have lessened the spread of cholera, typhoid, diphtheria and dysentery which is why these diseases also remain in the areas that have not had suitable investment to provide such infrastructure.  It is clear therefore that diseases that can affect ‘us’ here in the West have a great deal of money spent on finding cures or at the very least on their containment and neutralisation, so I am at a loss as to see why even as part of that strategy more money is not spent on the containment elsewhere because it stands to reason that the efficacy of measures here are undermined by the lack of measures elsewhere.

The fact is that whilst people feel guilty-bound to give something when it is graphically shown on the television on nights such as Comic Relief they do not marry the effects they are seeing with the causes of the problem.  Therefore any action, however well-meaning can only ever be fire-fighting as if our healthcare system were looking solely to cure disease that have already happened rather than trying to prevent them in the first place, oh wait a minute…!  Africa is seen as a country that is either too poor, too barren or too corrupt to sort out its own problems.  The reason it is poor is very much to do with the wholesale removal of much of the mineral surplus by unscrupulous trans-national corporations and the selling off of assets under the instructions of the IMF and World Bank that are often bought up by the same TNCs. The too barren argument might well be true in the middle of the Sahara but there are a great many areas that with irrigation and access to supplies could at the very least make the population of that area self-sufficient, and this would be a monumental step-up from where these people are now. When it comes to the last allegation of corruption one has to take this with something of a pinch of salt. Corruption in this context is news-speak like, it means “not on our side” for there are a great many corrupt and despotic leaders across the planet who are not labelled so and not denied money accordingly. In fact a great many of the most corrupt play into the hands of the Western powers as they spend a great deal of any money they get their hands on on the military budget buying expensive weapons systems and planes in order to subjugate their own people. As long as the corruption is in this format there is little complaint from the world community, could it be because too many powerful people are making vast sums of money from such “corruption”.  Cynical?  Who me?

So we continue to make little inroads into the problem when ordinary people with little individual power stand in solidarity and give a little of their opulence to those for whom opulence is a mythological concept.  Is primarily to do good or is it to assuage our guilt, I don’t suppose the people whom it is helping would really care either way but perhaps if the former were more prevalent more people might pressure their representatives to do something about it.  The rise in attacks and hatred towards “economic migrants suggests that we prefer the poor to be out of sight and living off the handouts we deign to give them when we feel magnanimous enough to do so and not to get ideas above their station and come over here to get the crumbs from the table before they are stale and after governments and officials have picked the choicest scraps already.  To hear people talking about human rights as if this is somehow destroying society as we know it and allowing unacceptable erosion of our living conditions is more than merely nauseating it is an abject disgrace and blight on the period of history by which we will be judged in future generations.

Up to now I have been focusing on the plight of those far away as if somehow we have creed a fortress of sanctuary within which we have a harmony we do not wish to have disrupted but again this is simply not true.  The evidence of horrific brutality to children in our own country is perhaps more worrying than anything else.  That is not to say it is less important than trying to fight cancer or help people with long-term medical conditions or research into cures and vaccines, nor that we treat children specifically to the way we always treat adults, merely that our treatment of children should really highlight something deeply disquieting about ourselves and be contrary to our basest instincts as human beings.  The damage we are doing is not something that will only affect those far away from us, it is not even something that will only affect those in the future, it is something that should chill us to the very bone for we are shaping a generation, that which will have to look after us, in a way hardly conducive to them doing so with any great compassion.  Those who may be uncaring and also happen to be atheists might say ‘so what, as long as I’m alright why should I give a damn’ but for those who believe in a final judgement whether on the world in toto or individually at death there participation in this abhorrence seems mind-bogglingly short-sighted.  I suppose though if you cannot see the innate inefficiency of what you are doing in your lifetime how can you properly look beyond it to that which is supposed to come beyond.  I believe it may have been Alexander Poppe, an atheist, who said that if he were to find that God existed upon his death and had allowed the world to function as it does he would spit in his face for such a God is not worthy of any respect.

Amen to that.

Song Of The Day ~ Sensational Alex Harvey Band – Next