Vol.1 No.14, 15 October 2001

WTC Attacks and World Hunger

Below is a contribution to SANE Views by one of our members, Russell Bishop. It is followed with some comments by myself.

The SANE Views that have appeared so far have attracted some response, most of which has not been communicated to the list. The SANE Views list is not meant to provide an open forum for the airing of opinions, but there is a real need that this opportunity should be offered.

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Below please read SANE Views No.14 followed by comments that you will also find in a message from the SANE Forum if you have subscribed to that list.

Aart Roukens de Lange
Editor, SANE Views.


Russell Bishop

The outpourings relating to the World Trade Centre outrage miss the reality of the outrageous situation we are faced with on a daily basis. This reality is the following:

On the day of the WTC attacks, 6,000 people died from the effects of hunger, and then 6,000 more, and 6,000 more , and 6,000 more , and 6,000 more - more than 30,000 people died in this way on that day, and the day before, and every day since. Structural, persistent, preventable hunger is with us day by day, and nothing is done by those who can act to end it. Tragedy haunts - no - dominates the lives of most people. Parents watch helpless as their children die. Most of those who die by hunger are children under the age of five.

Americans die and famous people bleed, emotionally, in public, with words crafted to enhance the value of those who died. Where is the balance? The deaths and suffering of untold poor people draw forth no more than an occasional expression of regret from those who determine who will get what, and what will be considered relevant, and what not. Poor people are irrelevant to those who carry power.

What is not recognised is that the United States also harbours terrorists - economic terrorists. The structures which manage our money systems destroy those who are not already leaders in the world of trade and money. Protected by these structures Trans-National Corporations (TNCs), mostly based in the United States, extract value from countries in the Two-Thirds World. (The term 'Third World' is demeaning and does not recognise that the majority of people live in squalor in the less industrially developed nations.) Minerals and other raw materials go to the industrialised nations at insulting prices, supported by labour with no voice - subject to inhumane working conditions, and payment which most Americans would not distinguish from zero. Trade into the poorer nations is priced for profit for the transnationals. Damage to the land and natural resources of the poorer countries is enacted with impunity by theTNCs. Governments are controlled by these monsters of ruthless profit. Nothing is done to change structures and practices.

The power of the few, in a world where suffering is the rule and is unnecessary, is being criminally misdirected. It should be known that there is no call for hunger in a world which produces enough food to feed all people. Not only is enough produced, but those of us who have resources within easy reach consume, nay overconsume, to the extent that the world uses every day enough food for all.

In the face of all this the United Sates must take what happened on September 11 as feedback on its policies and practices. President Bush and the leaders of the other richer nations have the power to change the world with relative ease. They need to transform the actions of their governments, and their nationals, to move the world from catastrophic injustice and inequity to one where the needs of all are met.

Comment by Aart Roukens de Lange

By comparing the 6,000 lives lost in the WTC attacks with the 30,000 lives lost on a daily basis through deprivation and starvation around the globe, Russell Bishop indirectly raises an important issue. This issue is that of where the blame or wrong-doing creating these abominations lies and who is most blameworthy.

The statistics of lives lost can perhaps be compared in terms of body counts but not in terms of their impact on the world or the degree of their evil. Both are outrageous in their own ways.

The WTC attack has had - and will continue to have - a radical impact on the world and its future. This was a purely humanly inspired action by specific people carried out in a misguided sense of divine will. On the other hand world hunger and destitution is a consequence of natural forces as well as the current and past world order for which blame cannot be pinned on any one individual or nation. It is a reflection of human failings in many different dimensions, including ignorance, careless selfishness and personal greed. The United States is more powerful and therefore carries a greater responsibility than other nations for influencing and preventing this global tragedy, but it cannot be considered to be morally more culpable than most of the rest of humanity.

I believe that each of us has a role to play as a steward of the 'Divine Plan' here on Earth. Our true purpose in life is to find what this role is and to act accordingly. Beyond our individual life purpose there presumably is a Divine Will and Purpose.

The 'Greater Good' or 'Divine Plan' is impacted in very different ways by different people in different circumstances. The impact of obeying this 'Plan' or of ignorance or defiance of it is much greater for some people than for others, but that does not mean they are better or more evil than others.

Evil can be perpetrated in very different ways: through ignorance or selfishness or lovelessness; through the conscious or unconscious perversion of divine values, or perhaps even by a deliberate 'Faustian bargain with the (D)evil'. We cannot know Ultimate Purpose or know the ultimate consequences of our actions, but we can be held responsible for the intent with which we exercise our free will.

SANE is not in the business of redistributing resources, nor is it focussed on moralising about violence or greed or God's Will. What SANE is about is that of changing the rules of the economic game in a way such that when people act in their own self-interest the 'greater good' will also be served. SANE believes that neither the 'Invisible Hand' of the Free Market nor the central planning of a Marxist economy meets this criterion. It has set itself the task of finding a better set of rules and of lobbying for their implementation.

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