Reaching out across nations.

An unanticipated reward from Blogging.

When I started writing Learning from Dogs, way back on July 15th 2009, I didn’t have a clue as to the world I was entering, figuratively speaking.  But there have been many unanticipated rewards including the great pleasure of the way that this strange virtual world of the Internet brings people together.  One connection recently made was with a young Bangladeshi living in the city of Dhaka, more of his background here.

Nakib recently published a powerful and moving Post and has been gracious in allowing me to republish it, as follows:

The vulture that waited for the child to die

Given below is the 1994 Pulitzer price-winning photograph taken by Kevin Carter during the Sudan famine of 1994.

The photo shows a famine-stricken child crawling towards a United Nations food camp, which was located at least one kilometer away from the place shown. The vulture on the other hand is waiting eagerly for the child to die so that it can devour it.

I do not know what message the photograph revokes on your head but every time I look at it I feel blessed that I have been provided enough at least to satisfy my hungry stomach and keep me energetic enough to write blogs. I feel small and humble when I think of all the people suffering out there— homeless and starved— yet trying their best to make some sense of the complex notion known as life. It tells me that I have been blessed for a reason, for a purpose, and whatever I have been provided with should not go in vain. I can infer that my powers should be used well, at least for that little kid on the above photograph for whom Fate had sealed a quicksand of reality too hard to acknowledge for many of us hedonists out here.

Most importantly, to me the photograph conveys an emotion; a reality that many of us are too blind to grasp. I think of how people throughout the world are suffering to no ends yet amidst everything trying again and again to find the silver lining associated with the black cloud. I realize that there is a lot happening outside my comfortable apartment and Biology textbook that needs looking after, that there is a lot of people who strive hard yet achieve nothing in return. It amazes me when I try to ponder God’s sense of justice and egalitarianism.

So is it okay for the blessed 25% of the population in this world to waste everything that life has given them while the the rest 75% live amidst severe poverty, oppression and inequality?  Is it okay to go overboard with New Year parties while exactly at the same hour millions of people across the globe are suffering from the fangs of social deprivation? Is it okay to let things be as they are and forget about everything so as to harmoniously embrace useless ambitions and lustful desires?

Have we all truly forgotten to share our wealth and about the latent human being that exists inside everyone of us? Have we truly gottten rid of all those emotions that make us human beings? Is this what the world is for: for some to live lavishly while for the rest to suffer endlessly?

Three months after he took the photograph Kevin Carter, after suffering from several periods of depression, committed suicide.

Dated on the day the photo was taken, the following note was found from his diary:

Dear God, I promise I will never waste my food no matter how bad it can taste and how full I may be. I pray that He will protect this little boy, guide and deliver him away from his misery. I pray that we will be more sensitive towards the world around us and not be blinded by our own selfish nature and interests. I hope this picture will always serve as a reminder to us that how fortunate we are and that we must never ever take things for granted.

As for the child, no one really knows what happened to him; not even the South African photographer who had left the place immediately after the photo was taken. I try to appease myself by saying that the child never existed in the first place. God simply intended to provide us with a glimpse of the truth of life, to remind us how blessed we are. I hope this is true.

oooOOOooo

Very, very moving and beautifully expressed.

13 thoughts on “Reaching out across nations.

  1. Why? is a question we all find ourselves asking more and more as we see those who have plenty and witness those like this poor child who are born into suffering..
    Pictures like this are filmed on TV as reservations of food camps are set up across these nations as thousand upon thousands walk hundreds of miles in blistering heat carrying children and their elderly..

    WHY? I wish I had an answer.. Does the world not see? Can it not understand that ALL of these people are part of themselves? Do they not send up that prayer of Gratitude for all their blessings?

    I give thanks every day I was born to be who I am…
    Each of us are born to that place, and Maybe that poor little boy was born knowing that his life would be short.. and Maybe the mission of Kevin Carter ended the day he took that photograph..
    For that day he learnt something deeper within.. He felt Compassion and Gratitude and all who look upon this sorrowful story of this young boys plight.. Know within their being that Life is so very fragile and precious .. And that for the Grace of God go I…
    This world needs now more than ever Paul to readdress the imbalance we have made our world, via our Greed .. We should be ashamed of our wasteful ways.. and be thankful for all our blessings in this throw away world we have created…
    Let us hope that a New Brighter World can soon emerge whereby ALL our Children are protected and loved.. I so hope that One day Paul our New World will be Born.. But the Old one has to go first!.. And that my friend is the lesson ALL of Mankind will have to reap from the seeds he has sown.. Love and Blessings to you and yours
    ~Sue

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  2. That is an awesome photograph – and I chose my word carefully. Originally awesome meant fearful or dreadful, etc.. I am thus reminded of the words of Paul Ehrlich in his seminal book The Population Bomb, words for which he was heavily criticised in the late 1960s – to the effect that ‘the battle to feed the world’s poor is over’ (i.e. lost). Since then, 100’s of millions have died of starvation and, even today 2.5 million die each year. However, what is truly chilling is that climate change is already exacerbating the problems of over-population in the World’s poorest countries. Over-population being a variable population density that is entirely dependent on the ability of the land to produce crops or support grazing animals.

    Furthermore, as I blogged recently, despite all our good intentions, we in the West are making matters worse by over production and export of subsidised produce to these countries while importing from them things we can’t grow ourselves and which they can’t eat: Perpetuating dependency rather than encouraging independence. It is truly disgraceful.
    “Differing weights and differing measures— the LORD detests them both” (Proverbs 20:10).

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  3. This picture brought tears to my eyes and made my heart ache; what more can be said other than I thank God everyday for all the blessings He has bestowed upon me, and instills in me the desire and opportunity to give back. I read a quote today which said “money is the root of all evil, but greed is the fertilizer.” How true, how sad. So many questions as to why, in God’s time we will all understand…

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  4. Thanks a zillion Paul. It is for people like you and the commentators here for whom the world is still running, albeit not in the most fair way.

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  5. I am amazed that the photographer left the place after taking the photo, and did not pick up the kid and take him to where he needed to go. That could have made an enormous difference for this one kid … eating food you don’t like or when you are no longer hungry won’t!

    Maybe he was overwhelmed by the disaster around him and lost in some sort of emotional apathy. Sitting here in a safe house in a rich country, I shouldn’t judge anyone in the front line … However, I would have felt an excruciating ethical hang-over if I took the photo and just left the child behind and then won a prestigious International prize for the picture.

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      1. Yes it is too easy for me to judge, not having been there and having to make decisions in the middle of a humanitarian catastrophe. Maybe kids like this one were all around him, and he felt in the moment that it didn’t make sense to save just one, and that the primary objective was to communicate the situation to the world ASAP to get more help; that that was the most effective way of helping.

        Personally I think it makes sense to save just one (or more) in a disaster (human, or animal, in urgent dire trouble) for many reasons, even if it is slowing your down.

        The primary is of course the need of the one/s you save, and what they may later contribute to the world. Someone is never just a number… the person or animal dying in front of you may make a significant difference in the future due to unique talent and abilities, people skills and so on that have not yet had a chance to develop.

        Then there is the effect on yourself, and how you enhance your own compassion (and peace of mind) by allowing yourself to act on it.

        Then there is the impact on others when knowing that compassion for a life is above the rationality of a situation. – reminding everybody to show compassion.

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      2. Here is a completely different example – bushfires in Australia. They happen every year and occasionally spin disastrously out of control and become natural catastrophes that can swallow vast land areas with vegetation, houses, even towns and of course wildlife. Every time this happen people pick up injured wildlife… Koalas, Kangaroos, etc, often badly burned – and get them to wildlife hospitals for treatment and care for a long as it takes to recover – typically months. Then they are released into the wild again.

        At other times in Australia, Kangaroos are mass-culled (shot) from helicopters to keep their numbers under control (so they don’t devastate the landscape). It might seem contradicting to spend resources rescuing injured Kangaroos after bush fires, and at other times shoot them because there are too many but really. It isn’t of course the same people who rescue and shoot them, and the Kangaroo massacres are controversial. Anyway, what is important about rescuing a few animals knowing that maybe hundreds of thousands others died, isn’t about saving specific numbers, it is really about compassion and humanity… protecting and nurturing these essential human traits that ‘makes us human’; encourage unselfishness and identify as a responsible and caring species.

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    1. Thanks Paul:-) for your welcoming attitude and great debate-hosting.

      Ps. Apologise for grammar and spelling mistakes in above comments, I can see that I made quite a few (you are welcome to correct them if they annoy you too!)

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