Perhaps the most interesting thing about what’s going in Egypt right now is the light it is putting on what’s going on here at home. What our government officially calls “foreign assistance” has $1.5 billion dollars earmarked for Egypt in 2011, the fourth largest recipient of US aid. Only Afghanistan ($3.9 billion), Pakistan ($3.1 billion) and Israel ($3 billion) have more aid requested for them. And those are just the “official” numbers.
In fact, according to our government’s own Web site, www.foreignassistance.gov, Uncle Sam doles out “more than $58 billion a year in foreign assistance”. Presumably, all these recipient countries, like Egypt, are our “friends”.
It’s hard for us to deny the Egyptian people’s desire to be rid of a dictator. But what about our other “friends”? Are they the models of the “liberty and justice” we pride ourselves on being? More to the point, how worthy--by what criteria--are they being recipients of our "assistance"? What if even more countries decide to rise up against their corrupt and repressive governments? Will a change to more equitable policies for the people still qualify them as our friends?
Which begs the question: How do we judge our friends? Apparently not the same way the people in the countries we befriend do. Most of them are living in oppression. And as in Egypt, they want out. Considering the world's present policies and trad-offs, that's a pretty sticky dilemma.
Real, self-sustaining peace and harmony just ain’t gonna happen if we don’t mean what we say we mean, or practice what we preach. Our focus on the “bottom line” does not include the human cost. Like the products we buy and sell, like the planet we exploit, people, too have become expendable commodities. Close a giant factory here to find cheaper labor somewhere else? It's just business! Health care for all in the richest country on earth? Socialism!
We equate “peace” with the stability to insure the uninterrupted flow of corporate profits, and that most assuredly includes the flow of oil. And for that, we tolerate the intolerable—-especially if it’s in our “friends’” back yard—-paying billions in dollars and priceless national treasure for the luxury.
Friends, consider this a blessed opportunity to start considering peace.
- Stephen Jerrome
- Los Angeles, CA, United States
- I am a writer, photographer and musician living in Los Angeles. In the last few years, new written work--numerous plays, screenplays, and two novels--have demonstrated this to be the most productive period of my life. The journal I have also kept for thirty-five years has, of late, become a personal sounding board for my thoughts on peace and the state of the world...about which I remain hopelessly optimistic! My writing here will be in tandem to video "Peace Talks" I have recorded, and which will be released throughout 2011. You're welcome to visit my website, the "Studio 5" link, to see my photographs. As a classically-trained pianist, I have been composing music all my life. Two guitar re-mixes of piano music are attached here, as well as several music videos, including "Consider Peace" the title track of an up-coming CD. Balancing writing, photography and music has been a long and challenging path...not to be recommended! Yet this very Aries diversity reflects an enthusiasm for the modern world of which I feel very much a part.