Pauca Verba is Latin for A Few Words.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year and Every Five Seconds




Here's a picture of Sydney Harbor at midnight December 31, the first to welcome the New Year. The pyrotechnic show lasted twelve minutes and cost 6.8 million dollars to pull off. That same night there was a UNICEF info-mmercial telling us that a child dies of hunger somewhere in the world every five seconds. And so during the 720 seconds it took to blow up 6.8 million dollars of fireworks, 144 children died of hunger somewhere in the world. Similar spectacles circled the world as the clock struck twelve: Dubai, Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Berlin, Paris, London...

But I thought  London's explosions, which rained down edible confetti on the revelers and filled the air with the scent of fruit, to be the most troublesome in the world where a child dies of hunger every five seconds. Does the world have a right to  these kinds of displays in the face of this statistic?

Someone said, "It might be impossible to find the end of the thread that leads to the people who authorize, sign off on, create and fund these global New Years events." That shouldn't prevent us from asking, "Does the world have the right to this kind of extravagance?"






Some people will say: The priest is a kill-joy, no fun, doesn't understand that corrupt governments cause hunger, doesn't understand economics or the World Bank, that the poor countries shouldn't be having babies, that the cost of global fireworks would be a drop in the bucket to solve the problem, there's always been world hunger.

But should a TV commercial be begging for quarters to feed the world's dying children while we spend billions on pyrotechnics, wars, sports stadiums, player contracts and space explorations? A six billion dollar project has been announced to establish a space station on Mars; the project getting underway in 2018.

Someone might ask in return: "If we have to question the moral rightness of New Year's Eve celebrations and war preparations and sports - then what about taking a vacation, going to a restaurant, buying a new coat, owning a camera, sharing a bottle of wine, owning a second pair of shoes or a vehicle?" Well yes, I suppose. If we're paying attention, we all have to ask ourselves probing and maybe uncomfortable questions. But we might begin with the cultural practices that are most glaring - most obvious. And somehow I see the issue as having spiritual significance:

Do we remember the Book of Exodus Bible story about the ancient Israelites being freed from Egyptian slavery by God's hand. That they were led through the Red Sea and into the wilderness where God fed them with manna-bread from heaven. And they were satisfied for awhile but then began to grumble, complaining to Moses and wishing they could return to Egypt where they had leeks and cucumbers to eat.

They were satisfied - but only for awhile. We can well imagine that next year's displays are already being imagined and created, to be even more satisfying (and more expensive) than this year's. Edible confetti! Can it get any better than that? The new manna-bread!

Human consciousness is very low much of the time. A homeless woman froze to death in Rome and a new bronze statue of Jesus the Homeless was recently placed near the Vatican Radio Tower to remember her. In ROME of all places! There's a superabundance of empty rooms in Rome's convents, monasteries and rectories. There's an army of young and strong religious men and women who are studying in seminaries, novitiates and colleges all around Rome who could be out in shifts every winter night scouring the streets looking for someone - likely mentally ill - who needs to be picked up and taken in. The last thing Rome needs is another statue. The pope has echoed this in saying, "When the stock market loses two points it makes the news, but when a homeless woman freezes to death, it's not reported." 

A child dies of hunger somewhere in the world every five seconds.

 




11 comments:

  1. If your goal was to raise our level of consciousness, you have succeeded. We, as individuals cannot stop world hunger. But are you telling us to do our part? We receive phone calls constantly from organizations that ask for donations to this or to that. Often you feel compelled to help, but how do you know which are the best to give to? Do you pick a cause? Do you help your locality? Maybe you know of a reputable organization in which donations are used to honestly help the poor and the hungry and not to generate more mailings, begging for more money.

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    1. Cross International Catholic Outreach has a good report card. I had 15 mailings looking for help one day. Pick one or two that you can help. Don't feel guilty about the rest. Always be kind to those who telephone - their job is not easy. I simply say, "Thank you for your phone call - I'm already doing what I can do." And then I hang up. Saint Francis said: "I can't do everything, but I can do something."

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  2. It may be uncomfortable, but we musn't think of the messenger as a kill-joy. It is an absolutely necessary topic to address. We are all aware, but on a superficial level. How many really think about it?

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  3. Raised awareness - consciousness matters. Remember when Jesus said to the Pharisees, 'You THINK you see..."

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  4. Powerful...mind boggling! It certainly stirs the conscience to the reality of global sin - my sin. I find myself feeling a mixture of emotions - anger, disgust, shame, guilt. Please God, show me what part I can do to combat the darkness that's disguised as light as in pyrotechnics! If it doesn't stir me to action in whatever capacity I can make a difference in even one person's life, then global sin wins & grows stronger. Thank you for making me think, and pray, and move into God's Will. You make a difference!

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  5. What a spectacular picture of Sydney. What a shame to see the money burning up minute by minute for the entertainment of people without any other reason except to celebrate the arrival of another day. I do not feel ashamed of the life that I have, only that I could do more to help others. We, the leading nations of the world, are wasteful while millions are homeless and go hungry and cold around us. In our own cities in addition to the third world nations. Raise the awareness! Strive to find out what more can be done. Maybe others will take notice and do something also.

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  6. "I can't do everything, but I can do something." Saint Francis of Assisi

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    1. That is encouraging. If we can even make a difference in one life, at least we have done something more than just read about it and feel badly. But we must be reminded once in awhile that we can make changes even if they appear to be miniscule to the world stage.

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    2. Sign on with one of the many organizations that feed the most hungry people. They've all been rated for transparency and how much of our monthly gift actually goes to starving people. You'll receive the monthly reminder we all need. Mother Teresa used to say, "Give until it hurts you." I think that means the gift we make can't be from what's left over. Almost every American home can do without something we usually spend money on. We might start a movement to re-establish Friday abstinence in our homes. What we save on Friday meat would enable us to fulfill a monthly pledge.

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  7. My daughter's teacher requested the parents to give gifts of food to the desperate food pantry in lieu of the teachers' Christmas gifts this year. What a profound impact that has left on me, not to mention the children who are beginning to understand that there are people who go without the simple treasures we take for granted. (The 4 year olds presented her with loads of food to take to the shelter.) Thank you for challenging us again, to do something.

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  8. I have to agree with AnnF. Thank you for challenging us. We lack that directive these days. And so do our children. Thank goodness there are people that are not afraid to just ask us to do something and for those who are willing to oblige. Amen.

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