Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Dim view from India

I get the Guardian Weekly delivered every week - it's one of my "windows on the world". It's a great little paper - incorporating a whole range of articles from the week's UK Guardian newspaper. I like it because it's a good old lefty publication (I used to read it when I lived in the UK) and it gives me a wider view of world events and politics than I can get from our Kiwi papers. Plus it's great to read on the bus...

There was an absolutely BRILLIANT letter published in last week's edition, which I'm going to include here in its entirety, because I think it's absolutely spot-on, and beautifully written. I hope you agree.

So you see a picture of a naked black child clinging to her mother under a headline "High Birthrate threatens to trap Africa in cycle of poverty" (September 1). What do you think? If only they would stop having children, perhaps. Maybe you analyse the many skirmishes in the South in terms of resource competition.

Then come the statistics - eight children per woman in Niger - and you worry about the environmental degradation wrought by so many desperate people. You pity our huddled masses and maybe you care enough to make a donation to a family planning NGO or else to one focused on conservation.

Now let me tell you what we see. Listen for once. We see a world trampled under your huge ecological footprints. We feel your development dragging us into the global market, then watch you buying our wood, oil and running shoes made for $1 a day on that global market. We feel you manoeuvering us towards your democracy and imposing sanctions should we not choose the right government, you who know right from wrong.

We see you coming to sell us cars and hear you tell us not to cut our forests or drive our cars - you need the clean air. We see our hungry children, then we see you using billions of dollars of your latest high-tech weapons and we see fat men in shiny suits selling us expensive but obsolete older models of the same. We fear your sanctions should we ever use them.

We hear your talk of human rights and the rule of law and see your waggling fingers as you lecture us on good governance. You never listen to what we think of your wars and your torture and your governance over us. Oh yes, we feel trapped in a cycle of poverty and we see you turning the wheels.

So when you see naked brown and black children and wish we would stop producing them, remember that we see fat white men overconsuming resources, resources that belong as much to naked black children as they do to you.
Jeph Mathias
Jibhi, Himachal Pradesh, India

Technorati tags: , , , , , , .


Anonymous said...

God that's so right! Fat white men in suits telling the rest of the world how they should live (like they are doing it right??!!)

Anonymous said...

Two things.
If 'fat white men' dissapeared and the west in general became as poor as those naked black children, the naked black children would still be starving and dying, and so would naked white children.
If 'fat white men' stopped giving advice, buying shoes at a dollar a time, or consuming oil or whatever other resource from the countries of those naked black children, this would not improve the lot of those children, it would simply stop whatever resources currently get to them.

Carolina Clay said...


Excellent letter! Thank you for bringing it to our attention.

I, too, would zero in on the writer's last paragraph about "fat white men overconsuming resources" as the source of many of the world's problems, whether directly or as a by-product of actions, including a war for black gold.

Spot-on and beautifully written throughout!


John said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one to have noticed this extraordinary piece of prose.

I pulled this out of the Guardian the day I read it - back in September - and have had it in my wallet ever since. I finally got round to scanning it today; tomorrow it'll be my wallpaper at work and will circulate to my email group.

Beautiful. Good spotting. :-)

webweaver said...

It is wonderful, isn't it?