Thursday, July 21, 2005

LIBERIA:

The ZenFo Pro Discusses Very Bad Things

Its only been two years since the people of West African nation of Liberia finally began to see the light of hope for the first time in decades.

Charles Taylor is safely tucked away in Nigeria, Samuel Doe is long dead, and the bodies have been mostly buried.

The child militias, once considered brutal and savage enough to make The Lord of the Flies look like a Sponge Bob cartoon, are beginning to grow into adults with serious mental and emotional problems. Imagine being an 18 or 19-year old Liberian, who just a few years ago may have been called a general or a captain. Imagine being a 16-year-old girl trying to forget being gangraped by a bunch of teenagers while your neighbors watched. Or a being a 21-year old who rubs a stump where his hand used your hand used to be.

What would it be like to wake up every morning remembering the day a group of local fighters murdered your son or daughter and then wore their testicles, ovaries, or other organs into battle?

Is this too painful to read? Are you sickened yet?

You should be.

Editors spend a lot of time trying to soften this kind of blow for their audience. Unfortunately for the audience here, I'm no longer an editor and I no longer have an advertising department to answer to at the end of the day.

Besides, who would give a shit about Paris Hilton after reading about these kinds of atrocities? Jude Law banging his nanny? Would anybody care if he was banging the cast of Friends if they saw what was going on in places like Guinea, Liberia, the Congo, Sierra Leone?

Sadly, the brutal atrocities are often covered by brave reporters from around the globe, including members of the American press corps. They file their stories from satellite link-ups, from deserted hotels and rented news vans held together by duct tape.

And then someone in a spotless office in Atlanta, or New York, or Paris, or London buries the story so readers and viewers can learn about Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise.

That sickens me.

What little does make it to the audience is often ignored. The attitude of most of the industrialized world is one of Who cares? American Idol is on in a few minutes. They'll eventually make a Grant Theft Auto: Monrovia anyway; I'll care then.

And that's probably a hard pill to swallow for a lot of folks.

No one says you have to be some radical protester, but wouldn't it be nice if I didn't have to talk about the awful things in Liberia anymore?

How hard is to actually care, anyway?


MORE COVERAGE HERE:
Andy Carvin: The DDN Edition: Life in a Liberian Refugee Camp

Child soldiers add to Liberia tragedy - MSNBC.Com

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I see the scope of the tragedy and maybe it is my cynical nature but I wonder why we as a society to always put our hand in other peoples cookie jar. I understand how bad things are in other places. I understand how the devastation, poverty, and disgusting human violence is worse that what I can imagine but why is it my responsibility to clean it up.

With the billions of people on the earth is it really so bad to let some natural selection take place. Besides if you are not smart enough to defend yourself do we as a species really need you around?

Devils Advocate

Smurf said...

WOW! What a take... omg...

SO, devils advocate, what if it were you, what if you were born into a life where your parent's had AIDS and they couldn't take care of you? Would you still feel that way...? Probably not.

I see where you are coming from... just a very uncompassionate view.

The ZenFo Pro said...

With Liberia, it IS America's cookie jar.

Back in 1816, a group of America's most powerful - Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, James Monroe, and others - decided to invest in shipping a bunch of freed slaves back to Africa. Their group, the American Colonialization Society, shipped thousands back to establish Liberia.

Liberia's fifth president was born right here in Ohio, a freeman who became known as "Liberia's Lincoln."

With Liberia, our hands are bloody because of the African cookie jar. Liberia was an American colony at one point.

Sure, we could choose to not "clean it up." We did that with our CIA ops in Afghanistan in training mujahadeen fighters against the Soviets.

But then that application of "natural selection" kicked in, survival of the fittest. The thousands killed by one of these former CIA trainees, a guy named Osama bin Laden, would I guess be just another example of New York residents not being "smart enough" to watch the sky 24/7 for hijacked planes.

Bah...who cares anyway if some Muslim extremist blows up a chunk of Manhattan? Survival of the fittest right? And those people in London? Not my problem, I guess. Somebody else can dig the graves - I'm not British, why should I care?

The same social darwinism was applied as a justification for inaction over a lot of things - the Halocaust, slavery, Apartheid.

My point here is simple. If we, as members of societies that can do something choose to not do so, then we, in essense, choose to continue the illusion that we somehow live in a vacuum. We continue to pretend those lines on maps actually provide security and stability.

Smurf said...

Very well said Jasobo!

Mexicana 1 said...

I caught a little MTV last night, and was absolutely sickened when I started realizing exactly how totally UNCOOL our culture has become.

Some stupid teenage drama shit. The kids in it were all dressed in trucker hats and the guys all had that Dukes of Hazzard hair. There was whining over completely shallow shit; some chick cryingbecause this boy was hooking hup with his ex or something.

I was wathing this garbage and then I read ur post and started to cry. Not your fault, but the Jude Law thing really got to me. I spent all day caught up in the whole celebrity gossip thing - that's what girls do sometimes :-).

Then I get home a find out there were more bombings in London. I was going to get a facial and peel down, but I felt so helpless I stuck the $150 check in the mail to the Red Cross instead.Hey, who needs a trip to the salon when I was born this beautiful...LOL

We care more about pimping someone's ride than pimping someone's life (I still love Xibit though!) Where's the help-get-me-a-job Punk'd, or the Viva La School?

K. Rambling...night :-)

The ZenFo Pro said...

I was going to get a facial and peel down, but I felt so helpless I stuck the $150 check in the mail to the Red Cross instead. Hey, who needs a trip to the salon when I was born this beautiful...LOL

That's awesome! And like I told you online yesterday, the difference between being pretty and being beautiful lies in how good of a person you are and how you live your life.

Just please stay away from those guys who hit on you because they want a free lunch, chica! No more wannabes please...the difference between being a dumbass and a badass lies in what drives you in this world.

No drive, no ambition, not worth shit.

:-)
JF

G said...

Good post. Well said.

And yeah, caring is hard.

Best we can do is be our own press, bringing these stories to the world as best we can, and hope that somebody (a) reads and (b) passes it along.

Working so far.

Ogbuefi Stephi said...

great post. i'm so glad someone is realizing that something is seriously wrong with society, and that a big part of that is the media.
you know, the other day, i was in a movie theatre watching some movie, i think it might have been high tension. and the lady behind me kept saying "o my god, it's too horrific, i can't watch. this is awful. i can't believe they let children watch this stuff." eventually, i couldn't take it any more. i turned around and was like "ok, listen. this is just a movie. worse things happen in REAL LIFE everyday, all over the world. get over it." i felt awful about it later, but i just had to tell her. i mean, think about the innocents killed in iraq everyday. no one even cares. people are so absorbed and enveloped by this consumer-oriented society that they've lost all perspective on society. it's despicable.

Kara said...

Well, I didn't comment the other day, but I have been thinking about these people ever since I read the post. Truthfully, I was speechless and couldn't find words that would do justice to the situation. Situational morality keeps coming to mind, and it's beyond awful. I know that I have been guilty of it, I only hope that I am moving forward. Yet, I am still disgusted with myself for being so self absorbed that I didn't even realize what was happening.
Your passion for compassion speaks volumes to the most deaf of ears. Thank you for bringing truth to the forefront, once again.