First World Fatigue

4 Mar

This past weekend an 8.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Chile. There have been cries of condolence and global relief efforts for the Chilean people, but after a day or two, news about Chile had largely disappeared from the news cycle. News of the earlier massive earthquake in Haiti has already fallen away from the mainstream news for quite some time, eclipsed by the Winter Olympics and the latest headline about the Kardashians or “The Bachelor.” Indeed, I’ve hardly seen any Haiti news of late,  except for discussions of the sort-of -sucky remake of “We are the World” (Justin Bieber? Really?) and the parodies thereof.

I’ve heard and read of folks complaining about the depressing news regarding Haiti, claiming they eventually had to “tune it out” because they were so fatigued by the devastation and the sadness. I have also heard folks–people of color too!–protesting the sending of funds to Haiti until “we take care of home.” That we should spend our money here rather than “always” trying to run in someone’s backyard to take care of someone’s business, when our own yard is a mess.

I agree, our own yard is a mess. A hot mess, to tell you the truth. But, to my knowledge, the entire earth is our home. Not just the little patch of dirt we name and claim. Though we treat it like Niecy Nash or some other cleaning guru will come and save us, we have to be accountable to each other in a global sense.  I rebuke First World ostrich-in-sand isolationism. We must recognize that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere–and not just when it’s convenient or when we are feeling sentimental or paternalistic. Taking care of home and taking care of each other are not mutually exclusive concepts. If  I can buy Maxwell’s new CD, then I can send $20 to charity or volunteer my time for a cause other than my own indolence and indulgence. Me sending $20 to Haiti or Chile is not going to break America’s bank. Sending thousands of men and women (and dollars) to fight in a fruitless war of attrition will, however. Let’s not get it twisted.

I don’t have the space to name all of our enemies here, but trust that our enemies are not the battered and bruised folk trying to make it among the debris of fascism, imperialism, and Mother Nature’s fury. We cannot afford to act against our global best interests as human beings by feigning or feeling First World fatigue. We could be the next ones under the rubble–what then?

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