THE OIL SPILL IN THE GULF OF MEXICO IS A DISASTER UNPRECEDENTED IN AMERICAN HISTORY.
It is now day 62 of the crisis that tragically took the lives of 11 men, and, unfortunately, the destruction is still spreading as the oil continues to flow unchecked. Both politicians and the press have focused unrelentingly on the tragedy. It is impossible to turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper without seeing the gripping headlines describing in detail the depth of this catastrophe. Politicians seem to be everywhere showing self righteous indignation over the irresponsible behavior of one of the largest corporations in the world operating in an atmosphere of greed that Washington helped to create. However, during those same 62 days 1,860,000 human beings have quietly died from extreme poverty. A large percentage of those victims were helpless children, many under the age of five, and yet this tragedy has been completely ignored by news organizations and by political leaders.
The lack of coverage and concern for almost 2 million innocent deaths vividly illustrates the disparity between economic classes, races and geographical locations. If you are going to suffer a disaster it is far better to go through that trauma in a wealthy part of the world. At least you will have the attention of the national press which will put pressure on elected officials to begin efforts to ease your suffering as quickly as possible. But on the other hand, if you are a poor person of color on the far side of the world you can forget about receiving help or aid even though you are trapped in a slow motion disaster that lasts your entire lifetime.
Obviously the situation in the gulf is catastrophic, but the misery that is now taking place is financial in nature, it is quality of life issues, it is the loss of livelihoods…the loss is not measured in millions of deaths. The eleven men who were killed left behind families and loved ones whose lives will now be sadly altered forever. Those who died must be remembered and honored. They were innocent victims who certainly did not deserve to have their lives cut short. Everything possible must be done to keep others from harm in the future and to increase safety at every level of this dangerous work.
But while we mourn the loss of the men who died so tragically on that oil well, we should also stop and consider the 1,860,000 human beings that have died from extreme poverty during the last 62 days. They have also had their lives taken from them unnecessarily. They also left behind families and loved ones that are grieving. They also deserve to be remembered…but they have been completely overlooked. No one has taken notice of almost 2 million deaths.
Politicians are not pounding their chests in outrage over this atrocity. They are not promising new regulations or laws to prevent this from happening in the future. The press has decided that the needless deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent children are not worthy of a news story. There has been no reporting or programming detailing their tragedy. Instead we get hours of coverage showing the damage done to habitats, marine life and birds.
While no one can discount the heart wrenching effect the leaking oil is having on the region, it is not killing human beings at a rate of 1,250 every 60 minutes. It is not claiming 30,000 lives every 24 hours. It is not responsible for one million deaths every 34 days. As deplorable and tragic as the gulf oil spill is for all involved, it is not a disaster on the scale of the needless starvation, the treatable illnesses and the preventable diseases that inflict the world’s poorest one billion people. The 1,860,000 lives that have been lost to extreme poverty are not being remembered, they are already forgotten.
IT IS DIFFICULT TO UNDERSTAND WHY POLITICIANS AND THE PRESS HAVE DECIDED THAT DEAD BIRDS ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN DEAD BABIES.