Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blog Action Day 2014: INEQUALITY

The Brooding Cynyx are proud to participate for the third
consecutive year in the annual
“Blog Action Day”
This year’s topic is “Inequality” and it seems even more appropriate
a topic given some of the realities of today.

(Thursday October 16, 2014, NY, NY, USA) Inequalities abound; they have come to define these first 13 years of the 21st century but they have long been with us.  The crises of the rampant scarcity of clean water, global hunger, gapping disparities in the quality of life from one country to the next are simply too big to ignore. Our world today is an intricately woven tapestry with each strand of yarn connected to several others and so on.

 In our world rife with bloodshed, oppression, warfare and a host of other ills, if they could all be summed up in a single word, that word is “inequality”.  The world of today is so complexly interconnected in every way that all the inequalities are all well-known, documented, and reported in the media.  Inequality comes in many guises and insidious forms just as it comes in grossly obvious manifestations.  Inequality between groups is at the root, the very core of so much that ails our world that it is often overlooked, it is the grinding tectonic force often obscured by the dense curtain of geopolitics, international commerce and finance, in a Darwinian conflict that have exceeds that between the “haves and have not’s”.   

In America talk of inequality these days is a debate about wealth and how it is consolidated in just one percent of the population.  Calls for a “distribution of wealth” represents a facet of this truth that is more an enigma than a problem seeking solution.  Here, too, we have deep seated racial inequalities that remain a stain on the soul of America despite over 70 years of efforts to eradicate this disparity.

But then we cast our eyes outward, beyond the shores of our America and learn what true inequality is; the scale and scope of it is enormous and leaves no corner of the globe unaffected.  Some of the most profound inequalities are masked by ethnic and religious animosities some that originated in antiquity. Oppression is a weapon used to reinforce inequality.  Whether it is the grotesque oppression of the Palestinians by the Israelis, the genocidal practices of warring factions in Iraq and Syria where small, ancient Christian sects are being threatened with extinction, or the bloody civil wars that have ravaged some of the most remote swathes of Africa, where ever there is oppression there is inequality.

As we seek to understand the genesis of some of this venomous hatred, an event arises that, at least for the moment, changes the topic and serves as a stark reminder of not only our interconnectedness and inequality, by also the depths of both. 

From some of the deepest, darkest corners of sub-Saharan, western Africa, an ancient nemesis has emerged and emerged with a vengeance.  The worst outbreak of Ebola virus disease (EVD), (formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever) is blazing a trail of horrific death from Guinea, Liberia and through parts of Sierra Leone.  The death toll is reportedly approaching 5,000 but due to the remoteness of some of the impacted villages and a public health infrastructure that is for all intents and purposes non-existent, the mortality rate is climbing while any opportunity to employ the tried and true tactics of “locate, isolate, quarantine and treat” has long since passed.  The reasons for this are many and varied; some the result of the conditions and circumstances within these countries, others, may be traced back to an initially tepid response by the international health care agencies including the World Health Organization (WHO),  United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and other non-governmental organizations (NGO’s). The corrupt practices in those countries have at times impeded getting donated supplies meant for the outbreak sites have been stolen by tin pot despots and local thugs demanding ransom. In an outbreak of this nature to say time is of the essence is a cruel understatement.  Reports of overrun jungle clinics, a scarcity of even the most basic medical supplies and rotting virus-laden corpses in the streets while those able to flee are running in fear from  their native towns and villages racing away from a virus they may  have already contracted but  has yet to show its tell-tale symptoms.

As we are finding out viruses do not respect borders; they have no nationalistic loyalty.  Their primary function is to replicate within a host and do lethal, fatal damage and move on to the next person.  However, the Ebola outbreak serves to underscore some of the most pervasive and disturbing inequalities among people today.  Over one billion of our fellow world citizens have no access to clean potable water or hygienic sewer system.   Almost as many barely make enough to sustain their families and, as a consequence a billion people are malnourished and susceptible to infections.  In some “Third World” “developing” countries upwards of 27% of new born children die within the first four years of life from simple Pneumonia and diarrhea while millions more succumb to relatively benign pathogens that children in the western world easily shrug off.  Polio and malaria remain at epidemic proportions in Africa and the Asian subcontinent while they have been virtually vanquished from the United States. The saddest element of many of these inequalities is that there are relatively cost effective fixes available.  What is lacking is the political will of the western world.  The United Nations proves its profound uselessness when it comes to seriously addressing inequalities as do the former colonial powers who exploited the natural resources and people of many African countries for centuries. 

Inequality is the direct result of prejudice; of the “divide and conquer” mindset that becomes a self-perpetuating organism that grows more malignant over time.  My religion is the “true” religion; my ethnicity is superior to yours. These thoughts are at the very core of some of the worst inequalities. 

There is an enigmatic component to inequality in that it appears that by our birth right, by simply being born into the environment that we are determines our fate.  How is it in a world with so much wealth that so many people long for clean water and reliable sources of food?  If anything these questions have assumed a greater sense of urgency now that our interconnectedness defines our world.  We are all truly related, the “six degrees of separation” principal is alive and well.  If we have any doubts about this, the current Ebola crisis is stark proof.  A man returning from a visit to Monrovia who had contracted the virus during his visit home found himself in a medical emergency within 40 hours of his arrival to his home in Dallas Texas.  The “Jet Set” reality of epidemiology cannot be ignored.  We can no longer say “well this or that is happening ‘over there’”; that defies today’s reality and logic.

What are the answers?  They may not be readily available but they are there and yes, they all require a commitment of money and resources.  We, all the western “developed” countries have a responsibility, an obligation, to our fellow global citizens.

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