Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
-from U2‘s Crumbs From Your Table
As I contemplated the, to me, unimaginable horror of the earthquake that hit Haiti yesterday, as I was reminded in the news reports that Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, I immediately thought of that lyric from U2.
And while I found it hard to sleep last night, thinking about this tragedy in my cozy, intact, home in a cozy, intact, middle class American neighborhood, another thing I couldn’t imagine was how anyone sleeps, especially truly wealthy people, knowing how our current global economic system abandons millions of people to poverty, thereby abandoning them to a host of threats such as hunger, disease, and natural disasters.
I couldn’t help thinking of a recent post of mine about the new world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa, a building that cost $1.5 billion, part of a complex of new buildings that cost $20 billion, where office space is selling for $4,000 per square foot and residential spaces costing $3,500 per square foot, a building that was engineered to easily withstand an earthquake of the same magnitude as the one in Haiti, where up to 100,000 are feared dead and millions affected.
It’s too easy to place the blame for the Haiti earthquake on a fickle, unpredictable Mother Nature. There’s no denying that wealthier people in wealthier, developed nations have a better chance of surviving events like this in their safer, more modern buildings.
And yet some will continue to claim that the freedom of the pursuit of happiness means that if they work hard enough they should be able to make as much money as possible.
How so many people all over the world can pursue that kind of so-called happiness, not recognizing or caring to recognize that the system that allows them to do so denies the same freedom to millions of poor people, is beyond me.