It’s A National Disgrace But Who Cares? Not Too Many It Seems!
Sometimes I wonder if anybody really cares anymore – to be honest, some days I wonder if I care anymore or if I’m just tired of banging my head against the wall of indifference.
I was looking back over some of the articles I’ve written over the past couple of years and all the news stories I’ve collected and not much has changed. The things we used to divide ourselves before are the things we use to divide ourselves now.
I watch the media twist and spin news rather than simply reporting it – the more negative the better and when it isn’t actually negative I watch how they scramble to find a way to make it appear as if it is. Just the other day, the media were reporting that a third of Canadians wanted to either reform or abolish the Canadian Senate. The real story is that an overwhelming majority of Canadians (2/3) continue to support the Senate the way it is. It just made for a more provocative headline to report the negative.
Politics which has always been an unseemly profession at best has become a disgusting orgy of self-indulgent sanctimony with too many acting like pigs at the trough, with gold plated benefits, convenient ethical standards, charging fees just to speak to Canadians or attacking each other with false and distorted accusations.
Meanwhile real people in this country and around the world suffer and their suffering goes unheralded much beyond the odd story that merely pays lip service to the real struggle to survive they face every day.
According to the World Hunger Project here are a few simple facts that we ignore as we line up, hands out for free birth control, free tuition and other free entitlements we borrow money to finance.
The world population is almost 7 billion of which, almost 1 billion (870 million) don’t get enough to eat every day.
Two thirds of the world’s hungry live in just seven countries: Bangladesh, Indian, China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Indonesia and Pakistan. More than 50% of those who go hungry are women and the majority of the balance is children.
More than 2 million children die every year from malnutrition.
It’s easy to dismiss those numbers as being the result of political practices and harsh realities in far away countries but it isn’t as easy to dismiss what is happening right here, next door and down the street.
In Toronto alone, there have been four children murdered in the past month with another murder just this week. In the United States, children are being gunned down on a weekly basis. When asked if this was a growing crisis, Dr. Alok Mukherjee, chair of the Toronto Police Services Board, replied “well I would hesitate to use the word ‘crisis.’”
It makes me wonder how many have to die before it becomes officially recognized as a crisis.
Five children are killed every day in North America, the majority by members of their family and that number is increasing. Since 2006 more than 800,000 children in the United States and 60,000 in Canada have gone missing.
Children are not just being abused and murdered, they are being abused and murdered in horrendous, barbaric ways: scalding, asphyxiation, shot, stabbed, burned, beaten to death, starved, dehydrated, whipped, battered, smothered, drowned and drugged. Thousands of others are physically and sexually abused or bullied into committing suicide.
Every year, in Canada and the United States, 1,000 children in the protection of government agencies are ,murdered and the number is growing in Canada.
Countless more Canadian children face abuse every day. An RCMP officer and his wife stands accused in Ottawa of having chained their son in the basement where he was alternately abused, sexually molested and undernourished. When the child escaped and was found wandering aimlessly through his neighbourhood, he was dazed and gaunt and looked like he had suffered through famine in a third world, developing country.
More than 2.5 million people in Canada do not have secure access to food and many of them are children. Think about that for a moment and then think about what’s on the political and activist agendas these days.
There are plenty of folks, including celebrities prepared to chain themselves to the White House fence to protest an oil pipeline but not too many who are prepared to do much about child abuse and poverty.
It isn’t one of the glamour causes.
In 2011, a Winnipeg church closed its food bank because it was attracting too many poor homeless people and that was making church members uncomfortable. How unfortunate that poverty offended their sensibilities and how very Chrisitian that their solution was to close the door on helping the poor. But then, we seem to be a society that is more concerned with how ‘their poverty’ make us feel than we are with what their poverty is doing to them and to our broader community.
How does free birth control, free tuition, full-day kindergarten, arguing over pipelines or spending billions on light rail, failed green energy programs or building new casinos help the poor? The simple truth is that it doesn’t. It helps those who have a vested interest in those programs and projects and no one else.
How does any politician justify rallying to the support of a fraud like Theresa Spence and her charade of a hunger strike while ignoring children in this country who are eating far less in a day than that petty charlatan? How do they justify the time and money they squander on things like trying to evict a mayor from office when children down the street from where they meet are going to bed hungry for lack of initiatives from those same elected officials?
The Liberal Party of Canada is holding a leadership campaign to pick its next federal leader. None of the candidates are seriously presenting programs or policy initiatives to address poverty or child hunger in one of the richest countries in the world. Instead they present stuff and nonsense like the Trudeau bromide about getting more involved in provincially mandated education without actually interfering with provincial jurisdiction. The contradictory stupidity of a statement like that not only demonstrates an even fundamental lack of understanding of this country’s constitutional division of powers but a complete lack of priorities or true concern for the welfare of our most vulnerable.
Mr. Trudeau bats his eyelashes and reaches out to the middle class because they can vote. He is charmed by how charming people find him and offers his popularity up as a solution for both the party and the nation. Like most politicians, however, he recognizes that the truly poor, especially children, cannot or do not vote and so they become irrelevant to the political discussion. He wastes his popularity on petty politics instead of using it to fight for those who have no voice to fight for themselves.
He’s in good company. The great Liberal Leadership campaign is about beating Stephen Harper, sustainable energy, legalizing marijuana so it can be taxed, carbon taxes and the usual blather about engaging Canadians for “the great discussion”.
And this is the party of compassion – spare me from the sanctimony.
Meanwhile, real people – people just like you and I along with their children just like our children and grandchildren live in poverty and go to school and to bed hungry. We routinely throw away more food than that to which they have access.
Canada isn’t a third world, developing country. It is part of the G8, a world economic leader and it is a disgrace that we have so many who live in shelters and who think that going to the food bank is the same as going grocery shopping in a very small store where they don’t get to make the selection of what they will get to eat. They take what they’re given and are to be damn thankful for it, if you please.
We were highly offended when we were chided by the United Nations for the level of hunger in our country. Perhaps it would have been more accurate if we had been chided for our sanctimonious hypocrisy.
Sure we provide social assistance but compared to the real cost of living in this country, it is pennies in a world that costs dollars – and even at that many think we provide too much.
The number of food banks is increasing and the number of shelters would be as well except municipal governments always find a rationale for cutting funding for them.
It’s small wonder.
We don’t care anymore. We argue about Liberal/Conservative ideology as if it really is more important than hunger, poverty, child abuse and abduction. We recognize that our children, even those not living in poverty are exposed to ever-present danger on the Internet but fight tooth and nail against any regulation which might make it a safer environment for them.
We demand more entitlements for ourselves that are bought with borrowed money our children’s children will have to repay because we don’t care how much debt we’re leaving them. And if we don’t care about them; why would we ever care about children we don’t know living in poverty today?
We have mortgaged the future of our children and grandchildren to give ourselves a lifestyle we haven’t earned and all the while we not only tell ourselves that we are working to leave a better life for them but continue to ignore or pay minor lips service to those around us whose lifestyle is merely trying to survive and get enough to eat.
We aren’t even content to let those organizations that actually do care get on with their business. Instead we criticize them when they receive piddly amounts of government funding to assist them in their work as NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair recently did with Crossroads.
We mock their religious beliefs and turn our backs on their work. We criticize the poor contenting ourselves in the knowledge that if they had any self-respect, they’d get a job and look after themselves. We do this even as we ignore the fact that Canada currently has an adult unemployment rate of 7% but we’re decent enough not to blame children who live in poverty for being unemployed – we merely ignore them because they don’t fit our convenient narrative.
Those children are dependent on us and their circumstance is made all the more vulnerable because we just don’t care anymore. On our scale of priorities, they are somewhere on page 5 or 6 of a very long list.
Every day I see hundreds of tweets and Facebook posts about politics. I read countless articles in the mainstream media and on blogs about all the terribly important things going on in our nation and I wade through the endless arguing and accusations. I seldom see demands that government and society in general address child poverty, child safety or a willingness to take the necessary steps to help children at risk.
Does anyone think or care about Amanda Todd anymore? Does anyone care enough to want to do something to prevent it happening again?
Another shooting occurs or another suicide; we cluck our tongues, fire off a few tweets, repost some picture or other of a flower or a cross or a candle with a greeting card sentiment on our Facebook page and then get back to haranguing each other over the same stuff we harangued each other over two years earlier.
It’s all so self-serving and pointless and does nothing for those who live in fear, in poverty and in hunger. Many are born into that life. It wasn’t a choice, it was an accident of birth but we don’t care. We’re busy with important matters and quite frankly, the welfare, the safety and the proper nutrition of children just isn’t one of those important matters.
We’re more concerned with their sex education and whether or not ‘our’ children will get extracurricular activities once the teachers’ disputes are resolved.
We’ve been given so much opportunity and we do so little with it.
We can blame our politicians, the media, educators, social services amd, in truth, they all share some of the blame but the real blame is ours because we just don’t care to do something and to demand that they do something as well.
Maybe when we get all the free stuff we’re demanding for ourselves and there is nothing more we want, we will turn our attention to those who have nothing – not even enough to eat.
Maybe, but I doubt it. Greed isn’t the sole purview of the wealthy and callous indifference isn’t something only found in those with whose political ideology we disagree. It’s become part of all of us now but we have become so jaded, we don’t recognize it.
But even if we did – personally, I don’t think we’d care.. For all our talk, we’re much better at making excuses than we are at caring.
© 2013 Maggie’s Bear
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