Thursday, November 14, 2013

"An Alternative World"

Trey Smith

When I read a rundown of military assets being sent to rescue survivors and deliver supplies, I feel grateful for the logistics officers marshaling their expertise, but also struck by the fact that the tools we're using were designed to fight wars and are being temporarily repurposed. I wonder what a fleet as well-funded as the U.S. military's would look like if it were optimized for natural disaster response.

How many victims would have been reached already?

The stories about inaccessible areas of the Philippines, where authorities haven't yet seen the damage — let alone helped the survivors — makes me reflect on the global drone fleet, and imagine an alternative world where it was optimized and expanded to spot victims rather than insurgents, delivering drinking water rather than Hellfire missiles.

I don't mean to go all John Lennon on you. This isn't a naive call to eliminate the U.S. military and spend its entire budget augmenting the International Red Cross.

But given how predictable it is that there will be deadly storms, catastrophic earthquakes, and other natural disasters besides, you'd think we'd spend more on preemptive measures that would help lower the death toll and speed help to survivors. Alas, our psychology as individuals and nations is to dig into our pockets only after the fact, when the descriptions of mass graves and hunger reach us.

It is good to act then. It would be better to act sooner.
~ from Is This the Best Humanity Can Do for the Philippines? by Conor Friedersdorf ~
If asked to sum up in brief the primary reason I started this blog in January 2005, it would be because of my desire to imagine "an alternative world", one aptly expressed through the eyes of Laozi and Zhuangzi. As far back as when they (or others) wrote their famous tracts, humanity has wrestled with cultures fixated on satisfying the egoic desires of the elite. In "an alternative world", ALL of this planet's creatures and life forms would be valued and war would have no purpose.

A report is out that survivors in typhoon-ravaged central Philippines stormed a government owned rice warehouse because...they were starving. It is a sad commentary that there are people in this world who starve everyday despite the fact that enough food is produced to feed everyone. Though there is enough fresh water, there are folks who die of thirst. There are people who are born into grinding poverty and, when death comes (sooner than it should), have never had the opportunity to escape its grip.

I don't understand how ANYONE could be satisfied with the kind of world we have created. It is a world of a few mega winners and a wide swath of mega losers. To sit by silently is, to me, the greatest sin of all.

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