In search of me – Day 12

by Carolyn on July 24, 2009

If it was in your hands....

If it was in your hands....

If you could solve one of the following global issues, which one would you fix?  Why?

  • The AIDS epidemic

  • The environment (including global warming)

  • The economy

  • World hunger

  • Weapons of mass destruction and nuclear threats

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Carolyn July 24, 2009 at 1:00 pm

It’s difficult to rank any one of these over the other. I really comes down to what resonates most with you. And it’s easy for me to choose:

I would fix world hunger. And the reason why is this image:
Pulitzer Prize winner photography 1994
This is a pulitzer prize winning photo that was taken by Kevin Carter in 2003. I had (as most of us I’d imagine) had seen it, but had never really *seen* it. At least not until 2002. While on a trip to Texas with my husband, we decided to tour Dallas’ Sixth Floor Museum. Yes, it’s the place that Lee Harvey Oswald hid and supposedly killed JFK. But the Museum houses other exhibits on it’s other floors. And at this time, I was lucky enough to experience an exhibit featuring all of the Pulitzer Prize winners for photography. I had never seen a collection quite so moving before and I’ll be hard pressed to be so moved by one again. We spent hours there. Gazing at photos, reading the bios and explanations. Recounting history.

But then I reached this one. It stopped me in my tracks. I had been influenced by the ‘We Are the World’ campaign. I remembered watching the gruesome infomercials about the famine in Ethiopia. But this photo is haunting. It haunts me still. If you aren’t aware of the background of this photo, I’ll give you a little synopsis. It’s easy to find information about it.

In 1993, Kevin Carter was a brave photojournalist shooting atrocities in South Africa. He decided to go with a UN food drop to take some photos of the famine in Sudan; an area he felt was being overlooked. Supposedly, he and the other photographer with him were expressly told not to touch anybody due to the risk of disease. Supposedly they were only given 30 minutes to take pictures. Anyway, the story goes that this poor little girl was trying to make her way to the food camp located about a kilometer away when she collapsed, not able to go further. The vulture in the background completes the story. According to his own account, Mr. Carter didn’t help her. He chased the vulture away and cried under a tree. The photo was purchased and ran by the New York Times and got such a high response that they added an editors note saying they didn’t know the fate of the little girl shown. A short while later, Kevin Carter committed suicide. The guilt he felt and the horrors he had seen being too much for him to bear.

Many get angry at Mr. Carter. How could he not have intervened? How could he have so coldly just snapped his picture and stood by while this poor precious child most surely must have died? But here’s the thing. We were all standing by. Just because we weren’t there, doesn’t make us any less guilty. He showed us. And yet we still stand by and let this happen. At least he did something! While most of us do nothing. If only we could fix this and make sure no one ever starves again.

And this doesn’t just happen in Africa. There are children and adults all around us. Going hungry. Who don’t have enough to eat. And yet, we scrape food into the garbage each day as if it’s worthless. I think about this picture. Almost every day. I think about Kevin Carter and the bravery he showed by bringing an awareness to the first world of horrors easier left unnoticed.

It’s not that the other issues aren’t important to me. It’s just that this photo burns in my soul. If I had one wish from a genie in a lamp it would be easy for me to choose. End world hunger. Now.

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2 Liz McLachlan July 24, 2009 at 2:38 pm

I am with you 100% on this issue. For the past 10 years I worked at a leading non-profit organization in Southeast Michigan dedicated to empowering families and individuals impacted by poverty and homelessness – both of which results in hunger. My stance however is – giving back locally, helping your neighbors in need. I know that hunger is a global issue but I do my best to not just stand by. I heard a quote recently – “We can not help everyone, but we can help someone.” I think that is an excellent example of how we can help others in need in any situation. P.S. I am now haunted by that picture – it says more than words could ever say.

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3 Frank July 25, 2009 at 6:10 am

I had never seen that photo before, nor heard the story. I’m utterly heartbroken right now.

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4 Frank July 25, 2009 at 6:21 am

Oh. I forgot. My answer here.

I think I would choose to fix the environment, if I could. My reasoning there is that it isn’t going to fix itself. It’s going to require us to stop thinking about ourselves the way we do. We’ve got to start seeing ourselves as part of the world we’re trying to fix. I think that if we can alter our perceptions on that level, then many of the other problems, like world hunger, get fixed along the way.

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5 Tammy July 27, 2009 at 8:31 am

Sorry I have to pick 3 world hunger, the environment and the aids epidemic. Why? Because they would make the world a better place for my children to grow up in. I also wish you had world peace in the list as well but I guess that was kind of in the nuclear threats catagory. I want my children to live long healthy happy lives. I don’t want their life spans to be shorter than mine and that is what the experts are predicting for them. My grandma lived until she was one month shy of 93. I want that for my kids and myself and I have my doubts on its ability to happen.

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6 Urchin July 29, 2009 at 12:14 am

I’m with you on the world hunger thing too. I’ve BEEN hungry. Not the sort of hungry that most people face where they have things in the pantry but no real taste for them at the time. I mean REAL hunger. The sort of hunger that fades into the background because no matter how hard it screams and rants, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Things got better for me. People took notice where I worked and shared with me. I don’t know HOW they noticed, since I never said a word about not eating at the time. But they did, and they helped. I was too hungry to be proud and say “no thank you, I’m good.” That little white lie was completely lost.

I don’t ever want to feel that way again. EVER. I don’t want anyone else to feel that way either. Part of it’s selfish, but in my selfishness I’ll happily help others.

A close (very close!) second was the environment. I’m a tree-hugger after all. ;)

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7 Carolyn July 29, 2009 at 9:29 pm

Hi Urchin! I missed your comments! I’m so glad you had people step in when you really needed them to. That makes me feel good about the humanity of others.

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