Recently, the state of the world has been making me sad.
Here in Jakarta, rain means flooding, and flooding means that thousands of people (in Jakarta alone!) are pushed out of their houses. The loss of possessions is guaranteed, but sometimes death is also involved. People die for a myriad of reasons, some unforeseeable, others preventable. That, in of itself, is enough to make me sad about this city. What makes it even more tragic is the fact that the solution is pretty simple: stop polluting. Yes, the infrastructure should be improved. (Misused taxes: another thing to be sad about…) However, the tossed aside trash and waste dams up the drainage rivers, increasing the problem exponentially. There is the question of how that trash should be disposed of, but simple steps like trash cans that are and compost could easily alleviate some of issue, enough to make a difference. With 11 million people in one city, ten percent of the population can make a significant impact on the overall environment. But, who cares that a bunch of poor people have their lives on their backs, with flooding worse every year? Those with money have homes across the archipelago, in areas without flooding. The true elite have homes in other countries. The poor are often seen as disposable, and empathy does not run high.
As I have expressed in the past, I am not a granola-crunchy-tree-hugger. (Well, okay. Maybe I am, but only a little!) I love nature, I love clean air, and I love fresh vegetables. Regardless of my non-extremist environmentalism, I recently read an article about a factory killing Whale Sharks so that they could be made into a myriad of products that are sold in countries all of the world. Whale Sharks, however, are endangered, and killing and selling the animal breaks international law. Outrage is to be expected, but in a world of tragedies, the death of a whale shark is of little concern.
My friend lives in one of the cities about two hours away from Jakarta. The street on which she lives is a minute and a half walk to the red light district, where brothels masquerading as karaoke bars and executive clubs offer up women like cattle. She told me that she has walked by and, through the open door, seen the hall lined lined with stalls that have curtains for doors. Thailand is known for it’s human trafficking, with families selling the virginity of their daughters to make ends meet. America is not exempt from this horror. Sex trafficking is alive and well in the United States, a fact that only becoming well known in recent years. While there is some debate as to the validity of labeling the Super Bowl a “sex-trafficking magnet,” the reality is that the United States experiences a incredible amount of sex trafficking. Missing, exploited, scared, beaten… corruption is part of every country.
The United States, however, has a love-hate relationship with rape, as popular tunes depicting sex-acts of questionable consent pour from the radio to much applause and acclaim. “Best New Artist of the Year” at the AMAs in 2013, Bruno Mars sang at the Super Bowl. One of his recent hits, “Gorilla,” has 24 million hits on YouTube. While the lyrics are questionably “rape-y” the music video is positively appalling. Hispanic girls, speaking in Spanish, are unquestionably prostitutes terrified of their pimp. (Also, by the look of some of the background women being used as props and the lyrics being sung, they are also on drugs, which is a well-known method of enslaving women internationally.) But, Bruno Mars, like many other musicians cut from similar lyrical cloth, top charts– not only in America, but internationally. But, of course. The masses must be placated, and money must be made.
The list goes on: infanticide, deforestation, child soldiers, slave labor, abortion, drugs…
Our world is small. Too small, I would argue, to ignore these problems. It is easy to be overwhelmed with all of these tragedies, but that is no excuse for ignoring them, especially when they happen in our own cities, in our own country. So often, it seems as if people would rather turn away from the problems of the world, instead of acknowledging them and choosing some way to become involved in it’s redemption.
I don’t have a solution, but this is what I have been thinking about recently.
And it makes me (more than) sad.
Articles about the Jakarta flooding:
Articles about Sex Trafficking in America: