16 November 2010

Back in the No Comprendo Zone

Most of the world's great ethical systems and religions were formed in an age before the internal combustion engine, electricity, nuclear power and space travel.  They addressed issues that confronted human beings who moved much more slowly, covered less turf, owned vastly less, and killed by the dozens rather than by the scores of thousands.

They also called forth action that could best benefit those close by and few in number.  It would have never entered the mind of Moses, Buddha, the Christ, or the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to envision right action at a distance of thousands of kilometers.

Yesterday I received an email from a student group asking me to be on a committee to decide whether to fund
a) MAVCODEG/Mandaka Primary School- finishing building the school in Tanzania that is currently just cement walls
b) Lahasha International- Helping to build community homes and a garden for HIV-positive women in Tanzania
c) Vision for Kenya- providing a needed well for a hospital and community in the western district of Kenya, or
d) Roots of Peace- providing cacao seedlings and fertilizer to farmers to farm land previously destroyed by land mines in Vietnam.
I won't be sitting on the committee.  I can't even begin to think of what would stand as selection criteria.  I've never been to Tanzania or Kenya or Vietnam.  I often wonder what happens after the initial flush of funds is gone.  Is this a kind of popularity contest?

More importantly, I'm finding it hard to get past the idea that it's ok to walk right past someone in need on your way to help someone else in need.  Tanzania sounds a lot nicer of a place to help out than Toledo, OH; Kenya has an air of the exotic to it while Kansas (most will agree) does not.

And even Toledo and Kansas are a hike from where I sit.  So how about 139th St. or Kedzie Ave.?

This isn't an "America first" issue, either.  It's more of a "How can I love the brother or sister I don't see while not loving the brother or sister I do see?" issue.

I feel like a heel for even suggesting that the efforts of the student group that invited me are misguided, but I'm not trying to be mean or contrary.

I just don't understand.

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