Friday, December 31, 2004

2004: A Year End Message to My Readers

I started working on this posting yesterday, December 30th, but hesitated to publish it because I felt that I did not get it right. So let’s try it again:

I’ve just finished watching the latest updates on CNNI and BBC World TV news regarding the catastrophic Asian Seaquake & Tsunamis as perhaps many of you have done over the past 5 days. Man! It will make you sit back and do some thinking, won’t it? You can’t help but feel sorrow for the victims and particularly for the plight of the survivors down there in Southern Asia. The death toll is estimated today to be over 120,000 people gone and the Indonesians have so many dead they have simply stopped counting. It will be over 200,000 dead before it is all over (which will take several more weeks), you watch.

Let’s face it. The Year 2004 was not a good year for the human race not to mention all kinds of other animal and plant species on Earth. And Mother Earth has given EVERYBODY something to think about as we go into the New Year 2005. All these people making senseless war and creating atrocities against women and children and the environment and calling for Holy War and all kinds of other bullshit better sit back and think about what you doin’, cause Nature, Mother Earth’s forces can make it so that everybody on the planet is gone, All Living Things Gone… and that is a scientific fact! The Quakes and Tusanamis that just swept across the Indian Ocean from Asia to Africa were just an appetizer.

Granted, many good and wonderful things happened to people this year___ from beautiful little babies being born into the world (animal and human) to outstanding leaders being awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace 2004, people’s lives and property were saved from disaster by courageous rescue workers and aid professionals, a few very bright people solved some long-standing problems and answered a few more of the “Big Questions” which have been dumbfounding and threatening mankind and our environment for millenia.

People have stood up for liberty and justice and democracy when it comes to running the affairs of their country (Georgia, Ukraine) and have succeeded by using peaceful means while others are struggling desperately to establish the same truths in the face of ruthless and brutal enemies (fill in the blanks) while much of the world stands by and jeers and jaunts and opinionates from the comfort of their “living rooms”.

There have been Peace Treaties signed between warring parties who have been fighting one another for decades (or at least they promise to sign up and stop fighting___we’ll see if that is true real soon). All of these things are good and there are many many more good things happening around our world (unfortunately grossly under-reported in the international media).

Yet on the other side of the coin life on Earth this year has been an absolute disaster for many of us. The WARS and VIOLENCE and GENOCIDE and HUNGER and DISEASE and POVERTY and general misery and suffering of too many peoples is simply off the charts!

Maybe it is just my state of mind but the human race seems to be hellbent on going downhill fast, particularly in the past few years. Either that or we who now have the privelege and means to access information instantaneously from a seemingly infinite variety of sources have finally got a clearer picture of just how bad things are on the planet. This may be just symptoms of modern information overload where total ignorance would seem like a better deal than knowing everything___ the old “Ignorance is Bliss” factor.

If you have been following my writings on this blog Jewels in the Jungle since May 2004 then you know that I have devoted much of my time and energy (via the blog) to the peoples and the environment on the African continent. I’m interested in all kinds of things and people here on the planet Earth but I feel the Urgency of Africa___ I feel it real strong these days and I am determined to devote as much of “me” as I can to help turn things around down there on the African continent… and Thank God I know that I am not alone, I know it.

Africa has got help coming from all kinds of people from all corners of the Earth and believe it or not, something as new and elementary as the “blogging phenomena” has helped me to understand that better than a lot of other information resources at my disposal including live people and expert reports. It’s like Ethan Zuckerman and Rebecca Mackinnon over at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and others are saying__ Blogging is Big and it is turning into a major civic dialogue movement worldwide.

So, before I go any further with this “long-winded” posting I want to first say a big Thank You to all of the people who have visited and commented on and contributed to and encouraged me to publish Jewels in the Jungle this year. I thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart, and I promise (uh-oh, there he goes again…) to improve it and make it better for 2005. If you have any suggestions on how I should do that don’t bother to send it to me ‘cause I ‘aint listening to you. This is MY BLOG and I AM THE KING HERE! (Just kidding, I need help improving this blog so send suggestions if you have them)

Now that I am finished with that brief introduction this is what I wanted to say today:

Many of us around the world have been following the situation in Darfur, Sudan this year with dread and shock and anger and a myriad of other rather unpleasant human emotions. Some of you undoubtedly have dug a little deeper into the story to discover that situations in other parts of Sudan (and throughout the region) aren’t much better and in some areas it is worse. Others of you either live in Sudan or have fled Sudan or left Sudan for greener pastures and know exactly what is going on in your country.

Now the country of Sudan and the people there have become really special for me and I cannot explain fully why that is, it just is so. I think that part of the reason is that a while back I convinced myself that if the “World Community” cannot muster the will and courage and resources to come to the aid of these destitute women and children being herded into the most hostile areas of the Sahara desert like cattle being driven to slaughter… if we can’t help these people, then Africa itself may soon be lost forever, especially for native Africans.

If that idea or belief is true, then the rest of us will go down right along with Mama Africa and her peoples and her beautiful and exotic natural wonders, the Birthplace of Mankind and in my mind a true Garden of Eden where man and nature first learned how to live together. It would seem that mankind has lost this knowledge and wisdom that our ancestors once had a long time ago. I think that we have not lost this knowledge (totally) but that we just refuse to accept the fact that every man and woman and child must learn to live together with nature.

This is what Mama Miti (Professor Wangari Maathai) is trying to tell us about, and thousands of other very wise people around the world just like her who have been pleading with us and begging us to wake up about this. It’s time that we all listen up and get busy to protect the planet or else. You disagree? Turn on the TV news tonight or open your local newspaper and read about it for yourself.

Which brings me to the conclusion of my last posting for the year 2004.

Now anybody who has any kind of access to news (including drums, smoke signals and native runners) has heard about the massive earthquake under the Indian Ocean and the resulting death and destruction caused by the deadly Tsunamis that swept from South Asia to East Africa like a speeding bullet. Almost everything in its path was destroyed or uprooted or disturbed in some way, and the Earth itself wobbled off its axis momentarily from the force of the undersea earthquake. (Note: that “Earth wobbling” thing is the scarey part ‘cause if that gets out of control we are all finished and quick! I hope the Geophysicists and other scientists are watching this! “Houston? I think we have a problem here.”).

When I was at university out on the desert years ago I took some classes in natural sciences i.e. Plate Tectonics and Volcanics and other Geology subjects. I have had the privelege of spending many a day and night on the deserts of the American southwest running up and down those hills and mountains and canyons and dry gulches like some kind of coyote or Apache indian or something. Mesmerized by the beauty of Mother Earth layed bare I often reflected upon what kind of power and processes did it take to create such natural wonders.

Now we have had a chance to see such a magnificent and yet destructive force of nature as a 9.5 (Richter Scale) seaquake in our lifetimes. And thanks to modern communications technology we can also see the event itself and the aftermath of the crushing tidal waves and flooding in the coastal basin of the seaquake. It is not pretty to watch the victims, is it?

We have also seen on TV news reports how international rescue teams and emergency aid and money and military resources and Presidents and Chancellors and the Pope and all kinds of important people are on TV talking about “coming together” to help these destitute and traumatized survivors and the governments of Thailand and Indonesia and Sri Lanka and India in the rebuilding and reconstruction of their devastated economies and lives and and and… nobody has bothered yet to help out in Somalia though.

I watch (like you do) how the world can come together and work together to help one another out during a terrible tragedy and humanitarian disaster as the Asian Quake and Tsunami events of December 26, 2004 or the devastating earthquakes that leveled the city of Bam, Iran and killed an estimated 30,000 people 1 year ago to the day___December 26, 2003.

I watch all of this activity with great sadness and dread just like millions of people around the world___ except perhaps for this one thing. While I watch all of this outpouring of humanity and aid on behalf of the peoples of Southern Asia during their darkest hour I am asking myself these questions also:

Why can’t the World Community quickly build an “international coalition of the willing” in order to help out the peoples of Darfur and the Democratic Republic of the Congo?"

"What choice would a belligerent leader like Omar al-Bashir or his Janjaweed militias have if all of these dignataries and military personell and equipment and humanitarian teams showed up all at once in the deserts of the Sahara to help the people of Darfur?"

"What could the bast---ds in Khartoum do but Accept the Will of the World and set those people free? Why can’t Kofi Annan or Thabo Mbeki or Tony Blair or The Arab League or whoever make this point very clear to the regime in Khartoum?”

I’ll see you next year in 2005 so that we may explore the answers to these questions and many others together. May God Bless and Keep You Safe on the last day of the year 2004.

P.S. I’ll add the relevant URL links and a nice photo ASAP. That’s enough for today.

P.S.S. Added some new URL links and corrected some spelling on January 5th.

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