|A recent scene in Haiti|
I wonder, do the people of this country dare to turn away from American Idol and the NBA playoffs and even the ridiculous pageantry of American presidential politics for a moment and take a look at the ominous events that are occurring all over the world? Events that are even now permeating our national borders insidiously? Will they even notice that anything is happening? Or will they sit, insensate as the colloquial frog in the ever-warming pan of water, and flip through their cable television channels until the front door is kicked in and reality barges into their living rooms?
I'm talking about food riots.
Prices for food staples like rice and wheat have risen over the past several months by upwards of 75%, causing outbreaks of violence all over the globe.
Haiti, the government of Prime Minister Jacques Edouard Alexis was removed from office after a week of rioting by the nation's poor who were unable to afford basic food stuffs. I became aware of the crisis in a very personal manner, when my wife, whose country of birth is Burkina Faso, called her family and learned that there had been rioting and violence in Ouagadougou. Thankfully, my in-laws are safe and unharmed...for the moment.
MercyCorps isn't going to make it all go away. Already, America's big box stores, with Walmart leading the way, are rationing rice purchases. Apparently, customers are being limited to no more than four 20-pound bags per visit.
Experts from the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) attribute the rise in food prices directly to a rise in the price of oil, but also to global warming and the loss of arable land.
People, we are staring into the face of the beast.
The reasons behind the rise in the price of oil, the lifeblood of today's global economy, are myriad. But certainly, the greed of oil company executives factors into it. I cannot say that I believe that the Bush/Cheney cabal is entirely responsible for the crisis. I believe that they have exacerbated the problem, and hastened its onset, but it has been coming for years, if not decades.
Even as I have faith that all will be according to the plan of the Great Whatever, it seems to me that our immediate future is fraught with peril and anguish. It is long past time for all of us to look honestly at the dangers we face and determine what (if anything) can be done.
For my part, I hope I face whatever may come with courage. I hope I remain true to what I know in my heart to be right.
Keep your eyes on the minute-hand, people. It's nearly midnight.