Thursday, December 21, 2006
POVERTY IS WAR
Mohandas Gandhi said something to the effect that “poverty is the greatest kind of violence.” I’m not sure if stating this in the superlative is completely balanced, but I think it’s indisputable that the spectrum of ills that derive from chronic poverty worldwide crush billions of human souls and often lead to violent reactions.
Today I heard one of the wisest observations made by anyone in a long time concerning one of the main factors for the spiraling violence in Iraq, and it came from one of our military commanders on the front lines in that war-ravaged land. He basically said that it does not take a genius to see that, as long as the poor masses in Iraq are deprived of the means to work and support their families, the Iraqi-on-Iraqi violence will persist.
The complexity of the Iraq situation defies being whittled down to bumper sticker snippets, but there are clearly certain key causes to the on-going runaway violence there. First of all, the Iraq war has degenerated into a religious and ethnic-cleansing war of Muslim against Muslim (Shiite against Sunni). That unfortunate madness is being exacerbated by the influx of Western-hating terrorists from Iran and other Islamic nations. The least of the contributing factors is America’s presence there, in spite of the popular left-wing propaganda to the contrary. But the rampant poverty in Iraq cannot be dismissed as integral to the overall disaster.
The Iraq debacle is not going to be solved by warring ideologues from the right and left in America. I’m fed up and ashamed of the entire political spectrum of armchair pundits in America who only see that tragic situation in Iraq through their own self-aggrandizing doctrinaire myopia. We can never solve a religious and ethnic conflict with political ideology. But perhaps if we follow Gandhi’s lead in the converse we might plant the seed of economic hope around which the warring factions can find common ground upon which to evolve towards peace. —Jeffrey Van Middlebrook | Pacific Grove
THANKS TO LIFESAVERS
On Tuesday night, Dec. 12, in a remarkably thick fog in Cachagua, I drove off the road and dropped about 100 feet into a very steep canyon. Luckily I was able to retrieve my cell phone and managed to get a signal about 40 minutes later. I reached a neighbor who activated the rescue services.
Within an amazingly short time, there were friendly shouts, and I was very relieved to see between 10 and 20 cheerful faces pressing through the 6 to 8-foot-high brush, chainsaws buzzing. Within minutes, the men had made smart decisions about how to stabilize the car, extract me from it, and haul an awkward stretcher up a nearly vertical slope.
Never have I seen so many people work together with such skill and dedication. Lifting a sled with ropes up a 100-foot steep canyon, trying to keep their footing to steady the stretcher (it was raining by now)—I don’t know how they did it. They were members of the Carmel Regional Fire and Ambulance group, all volunteers with medical skills, and I don’t know how many others who joined in to help.
There are too many names to thank individually, but I think we are blessed to live in a community that contains such heroic people. I wish I could find words to thank these people in particular, and all volunteers in general, for what they give of their time, skill, and muscle power to enrich—and often save—our lives. —Martha Crewe | Cachagua
THINK GLOBAL, SHOP LOCAL
I heard a rumor a few weeks ago that one of the box-store booksellers will be moving into the Crossroads soon. I am deeply concerned about the well-being of the only independent bookstore left in Carmel, Pilgrim’s Way. I want to alert our community that it becomes very important that we shop our values, that we support our local jewel of a small independent business that provides much more than the mainstream and eclectic books they offer. Paul and Cynthia offer support for the fabric of our community—they are a part of that fabric. They need our support as well. —Christie Denhart | Monterey