“I used to think the worst thing in life is to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams
Like any animal, human’s basic – or perhaps first – instinct is to survive. The value of one’s life as opposed to another is presumably higher. Of course this is not to discount moments in life where we suddenly feel the desire to give up our own life to protect another, for example, our child, our parents or maybe even our close friends. But fundamentally, I think our right to live takes precedence over another’s.
So in order for someone to do good for others, something has to be fulfilled. A person needs to feel safe before he can help someone else. Hence, in order for generosity, cooperation and kindness to flourish, we should ideally create a society that encourages everyone to feel safe.
However, this is extremely difficult. We are a society that thrives on, depends on and expects competition. It is the only way we see ourselves progressing. Ironically, competition does not allow a person to feel safe – even if a person is living a life of excessiveness. This is because in competition, we are constantly looking over our shoulders trying to stay ahead of someone or looking ahead trying to beat someone. Ultimately, someone loses. And when someone loses, he no longer feels safe and therefore loses the ability to commit to helping another person. If you take away someone’s sense of security, you force him to focus on himself because he has to find away to become safe again.
You cannot make the world a better place when the quest for survival is a constant state of nature for both the rich and the poor, the hungry and the well-fed, the haves and the have-nots. If competition is highly regarded, then no one is the winner since the game has no final whistle.
My ability to help is limited. And perhaps yours too. But the inability to do something (or anything) should not be a reason why we remain ignorant.
The Central African Republic (CAR) is going through one of the deadliest civil wars in recent history. The Seleka – who are made up of mostly muslims – and the Anti-Balaka – who are made up of mostly christians – are in the midst of destroying themselves.
There has been minimal media coverage, peacekeeping presence and aid. I wish I had the power to do something about that. But I don’t. And that is why I write. Hoping that maybe…somehow it can be of the tiniest, littlest help or glimmer of hope so that there can be an end in sight and subsequently, peace.
There has been an ethnic cleansing; by militias that are made up of more child soldiers than actual ones. Women are being raped. And together with children are forced to survive on their own while the men carry on with the fight.
Its hard to live a privileged life when things like this still happen all around us. Maybe that’s the reason why I’d rather be living in a place like the CAR. The naivety in thinking my presence would in someway affect the outcome is obvious. I know that. But in a world where hope is rarer than a lunar eclipse, there seems to be no other option that would satisfy me.
As for now all I can do is pray to god – even if i’m not sure there is one. And hope that somehow my writing can help.
I may be a big supporter against climate change but let’s calm down on that debate right now. Yes I’m sure climate change must’ve played some part in the typhoon that hit the Philippines recently. But in the aftermath, we can see more pressing issues that need to be settled first.
To me, it is a big RED FLAG when we give money only after a disaster has struck. Why the sympathy now? Prior to this, we knew that Tacloban was an area that has always been prone to mother nature’s wrath. But when all is calm, there is no urgency to help build infrastructure that would better protect them against disaster’s such as this. Because why does an impoverished area need protection? They are not valuable enough to warrant our help.
That may not be our intention but it is certainly the message we are giving.
We needed to see the children crying and begging for food and water on a plot of land that was once their home to feel bad enough to want to help them. And all the while trying to forget the real tragedy of the situation, which was that while we could not have prevented this natural disaster, we could have prevented the severity of the destruction and suffering that it caused.
Hurricane Katrina, the earthquake that hit Haiti and now typhoon Haiyan. Their wrath was unavoidable. But the magnitude of its impact could have been lessened.
So the real question I think we all need to ask ourselves now is how valuable must someone’s life be before it becomes imperative for us to help them? Is it more important to fortify an area that generates economic value before we fortify an area that doesn’t? Because if so, we might as well put up a billboard in places such has Tacloban that says “We don’t really give a f**k about you, but in times of tragedy we will help you to rid us of our guilt.”
It’ll be interesting to see how the area affected would be rebuilt moving forward. Because if nothing is done to improve the situation, I think people from impoverished places all around the world will have a definitive answer as to how much the world really cares about them.