Do They Know It’s Christmas

Shhh… Let’s enjoy a little peace and quiet, away from the chaos our world has become.

The weather outside is mild, and although I’m a half hour away from a major city, all I can hear through my open window is the occasional distant bark of a dog, followed by a few canine aftershocks.

My window faces the south, like the old country tune says, and in December the sun is low enough to come streaming through—but today there’s a cloudy haze, and all I can see is the albedo behind the pine trees.

I saw and heard some terrible things this past week—I don’t mean the antics in the USA and UK, or the Australian bush fires, I’m talking about the deep-rooted wickednesses humans perpetrate against each other, as we pursue our endless exploitation and graft.

The two things that shocked me most were a Washington Post story on India and a BBC report about an app widely used in the Mid-East to traffic domestic helpers.

Both stories underscore a common point—the plight of the disenfranchised, the poverty-stricken, and the weak. In the first case, it’s the tragicomic story of Narendra Modi’s improvements to sanitation—like Palin’s bridge to nowhere, the Indian premier’s millions of toilets miss the connection to trunk sewerage systems, which are in many areas inexistent.

As a consequence,  the septic tanks that receive domestic waste are cleaned manually by Dalit men, the community formerly known as untouchables. I lived for years in a house which had a similar sanitary arrangement—the tank was regularly pumped empty, but there were occasional overflows, and I kept some tools handy to deal with blockages.

Unpleasant to do, but the descriptions of men lowering themselves quasi-naked into pits to empty them with buckets, and the photos that accompany the Post article, are stomach-turning.

The second piece, a tribute to how humans convert any good idea into Machiavellian suffering, turns the stomach in a different way. The brave new world designed by the Silicon Valley latte and Lime set has been put to work transacting maids—many underage—in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other Mid-East nations.

Screengrabs from the 4Sale app on Apple’s App Store.

I was not the least surprised to find out the main character who kicks off the report is a Kuwaiti cop, but the extent to which the trade depends on the 4Sale app, Google, Instagram (i.e. Facebook), and Apple, is mind-boggling.

I think the saddest part of the documentary is when the BBC team, accompanied by a local cop, is taken to a village in Guinea Conakry to search for the family of a missing girl.

It is patently obvious that everyone knows who the girl is, but a succession of villagers studiously avert their gaze or shake their heads as cellphone pictures are shown to them.

The off-duty cop, who is certainly aware that villagers sell their daughters into domestic service or worse, just as in Southeast Asia, disingenuously tells the reporting team that ‘unfortunately they were not successful this time in finding the girl’s family, but of course they must keep looking.’

Yet here we are, on the first day of Hannukah 2019, a stone’s throw from Christmas, and a week away from what the business world is already touting as the Roaring Twenties.

This season, above all others, should cherish and protect those less fortunate.

The India Road, Atmos Fear, Clear Eyes, and Folk Tales For Future Dreamers. QR links for smartphones and tablets.

One Response to “Do They Know It’s Christmas”

  1. bichogui Says:

    Willie Nelson nos 50’s! Serve para aligeirar o conteúdo que nos deixa cada vez menos crentes numa humanidade realmente humana.
    Bom Natal

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