Friday, April 18, 2008

Global food crisis quotes -- read 'em and weep

These were gleaned from one NY Times article today. They deserve to be seen and reflected upon without the distractions of the reporters' text . Here's a global phenomenon, a catastrophe in the making, and it exists outside the range of our political discourse. No candidate makes the connection that here's a common cause for all humanity, located where climate change, tight oil supplies, water shortages, and food shortages intersect and interact. Talk about a Moral Equivalent to War. What a replacement for the Global War on Terror. What an opportunity to approach our "enemies" in peace.

If we only had "the will and vision". The problem is that many people do -- it's the institutional dominance of money and its will to power that keeps humans' political will and vision limited to a narrow range of "realistic" options.

I read these quoted words and think of all the Biblical texts about widows and orphans, the feeding of the multitudes, and what are treated, in effect and ineffectually, as just the platitudes of the Beatitudes. Read 'em and weep:

Haitian consumer of mud-cooking oil-and-sugar patties sold at street stalls: “It’s salty and it has butter and you don’t know you’re eating dirt. It makes your stomach quiet down.”

Haitian father, talking about his children who hadn't eaten the day before: "They look at me and say, 'Papa, I'm hungry' and I have to look away. It's humiliating and it makes you angry."

Haitian 29-year-old mother of five: "Take one. You pick. Just feed them."

Haitian political activist on rioting in Port-au-Prince: “Why were we surprised? When something is coming your way all the way from Burkina Faso you should see it coming. What we had was like a can of gasoline that the government left for someone to light a match to it.”

25-year-old Egyptian tomato vendor: “We can’t even find food. May God take the guy I have in mind” (said with hands raised toward the sky, referring to President Mubarak).

Egyptian pensioner: “If all the people rise, then the government will resolve this. But everyone has to rise together. People get scared. But we will all have to rise together.”

Indonesian agricultural advisor: "The biggest concern is food riots. It has happened in the past and can happen again.”

World Food Program analyst, talking about riots in Senegal: "Why are these riots happening? The human instinct is to survive, and people are going to do no matter what to survive. And if you’re hungry you get angry quicker.”

Activist in Niger, who had helped organized protests in 2005: "As a result of that experience the government created a cabinet-level ministry to deal with the high cost of living. So when prices went up this year the government acted quickly to remove tariffs on rice, which everyone eats. That quick action has kept people from taking to the streets.”

El Salvador's President Elias Antonio Saca: “This is a perfect storm. How long can we withstand the situation? We have to feed our people, and commodities are becoming scarce. This scandalous storm might become a hurricane that could upset not only our economies but also the stability of our countries."

US economist/UN adviser Jeffrey Sachs: "It's the worst crisis of its kind in more than 30 years. It’s a big deal and it’s obviously threatening a lot of governments. There are a number of governments on the ropes, and I think there’s more political fallout to come.”

Source: New York Times, "Across Globe, Empty Bellies Bring Rising Anger": April 18, 2008

1 comment:

John Backman said...

Good Lord. The mud-patties comment alone should be enough to spark us to action. The Times has done us a tremendous service with that article; thanks for posting it.