This post is not about Syria. I frankly don't have time for Syria, or Egypt for that matter. I don't have time for any political or human calamity that's not Sudan. Why? Well, for starters I'm Sudanese. And frankly, Sudan doesn't get the media coverage it deserves, hence I will give it my all, literally. But that's not what this post is about either. This post is about the world that you and me live in. Just before writing this I was being thoroughly entertained by Baratunde Thurston's How to be Black. Hilarious book. You should get it. Anyway, for some reason it got me thinking about things, and 17 seconds later I cringed. You know why? Because the world is a messed up place. It really is.
I have a Greek friend in Southampton. He's not normal. But in a good way. He told me today that he turned down an invitation for a night out with some other Greeks who were throwing a random Greek guy a going-away party. He told his friend that he "didn't care for socialising with them," and that "they're good library friends." I asked him why he did this, and he said "look, I know him, he's a nice guy, we meet in the library every now and then and talk; but I'm not going to go out to celebrate some random person's departure. I'm an honest person and I didn't know how to convey this to my friend in any other way." He had a point, and he didn't care how his friend was going to interpret it, but then again, that's how he is. He wears the same clothes everyday, a fanny pack that houses his credit card, student card and wallet, and a set of very unattractive earrings. The fact that he wore the same clothes everyday was pointed out to me by some friends a while back, in a dismissive manner. But what they don't understand is that he sees no value for clothes. In fact, had it been socially acceptable, he'd probably walk around naked. The point is, he sees a lot wrong in the world - the inequality and poverty - and he acts accordingly. He wears those earrings in an attempt to lure away people who judge others by their looks, he has no intention of befriending such people. And he literally wears his heart on his sleeves. Anyway, today we were discussing how the world works over some succulent chicken shish kebab, which inadvertently led to this post.
The per capita GDP of the Democratic Republic of Congo is $800, while that of Qatar is just shy of $105,000. So, on paper, the average person living in Qatar is more than a hundred times richer than the average Congolese (if you go into the details it's much worse). Yaya Toure, the Ivorian midfielder for Manchester City Football Club earns around £250,000 a week. A week. And in Equatorial Guinea 70% of the population lives below $2 a day - which is $60 a month, which is around $720 a year. In Sudan, 46.5% of the population lives below the poverty line ($1.25 a day). An average hedge fund owner (whatever hedge funds are) would've probably made $250 million last year. Now, we look at these numbers and think Oh my God so much inequality, what a terrible world we live in, what are all those rich people doing with all that money, why do they need 17 cars and 8 houses, this is unbelievable. Then we read books written by Joseph Stiglitz or Noam Chomsky about the "prosperous few and the restless many", and think yes, these guys are right, the world is not balanced, I totally agree with them, I'm so glad that we see eye to eye, this inequality has got to stop. Then we wake up the next day, go to the shop buy some coffee or cigarettes we can do without, eat an overpriced burger, and buy some shorts and loafers for the summer.
The fact that the world is imbalanced is a thought we carry along with us, but in the back of our minds, we look for it and deploy it at our own convenience, to win an argument or show our sympathy for the less fortunate. But the fact remains that it's in the back of our minds. Unfortunately for us, this imbalance, all this inequality will not go away, ever, if we keep thinking the world is a terrible place. These figures I just quoted are exact to some extent, the Sudanese government might argue otherwise, but they're pretty much accurate, and if you look at them closely they reveal not only that the world is at an all time low, but its continuation is not beneficial, at all. You might like your life and what you're doing, but as long as the world stays like this, and it will, then we've failed as a species. Apparently evolution doesn't tolerate failed species, yet we're still here. We should be gone, one way or another.
It doesn't make sense for people to be allowed to earn billions of dollars, and then be ranked by Forbes in a list that only Britney Spears cares about, while others can't find food to eat. Food. Fucking food. It's offensive. It really is. I had an unfortunate encounter with a friend of my cousin the other day where I made an inappropriate racial comment intending for it to be funny. No one laughed. The friend got offended, and I got an earful. I eventually apologised, reluctantly, and we moved on. But then it occurred to me that we get offended by comments, and we don't get offended by poverty, by the fact that billions of people around the world can't afford to eat or drink water. When one gets offended they feel the need to confront the situation, only then can they move on; whatever it is that offended them then moves to the back of their mind, they never forget it, they can then fetch it at their own convenience. The only thing that allows a person to forget the situation is confrontation. Yet, with inequality, it moves to the back of the mind with no confrontation. Which means that it doesn't offend. It doesn't need a confrontation to ease the process of putting it in the back of the mind. It doesn't make sense to get offended by a comment or a cartoon or a book or an article or a tweet, yet we look at the disparities between the rich and poor and think oh that's just terrible and move on. It doesn't make sense.
It also doesn't make sense that we buy handbags, watches, shoes and other insignificant accessories for thousands of dollars and fail to see the incongruity of it all. It's not our fault though, you and me. It's a bigger issue. It's the fact that we've been brought up to think that it's normal to invest in such asininity, to lend our sympathy to the poor but not care enough to question the reason for the existence of chronic poverty. We've been taught to look at the poor as a demographic, a statistic that can be quoted in posts like this one to prove a theory, raise awareness or question morality. We've also been taught to think that imperialism has ended, that colonisation was a thing of the past, that tomorrow will be better than today, that poverty exists because it's difficult to eradicate, that there isn't enough money to go around. There is enough money to go around. There's more than enough money to go around. The average income in the world is ten times that in Sub-Saharan Africa. This is not a problem that a book can solve, or an Earth Institute at Columbia University can solve. There are rovers on Mars for fuck's sake. There's no point putting men on the moon if men on Earth are starving. There's no point discovering a cure for disease if the only ones getting cured are those who can afford it.
Then we're told Africa's time is now. That Africa is open for business, that it's ripe for investment. Africa has been ripe for investment ever since the Europeans decided in the late 1800's to come over and claim it. Nothing has changed since then. The profits that are made in African countries are invested abroad. The poor see none of it, none. And no one should be commended for providing six jobs for slave labourers. And if that's not enough, the rich in Africa are put forward as paragons of success. We're all told that in order to be successful you have to become rich. And it's true. The rich are idolised. We have to sit and listen to what they have to say. Basically, if you're rich then your opinion counts. Fuck that. I couldn't care less what Mo Ibrahim has to say about African or Sudanese politics. If he really wanted to "help Africa" he would've never made that much money to begin with. There's no problem with being rich, but there's a problem with hypocrisy and self-beneficial charity. This is evident throughout the continent. And we only hear about those lucky enough to exceed expectations and make a lot of money. We hear about them in Forbes lists. Yet, what we don't hear about is that at the same time the poor are still poor. And frankly, whenever Forbes is involved, you know something is wrong. The fact that people are allowed to acquire so much wealth while others are still hungry highlights exactly what the fuck is wrong with the world. Again, we look, we read, we sympathise, we move on.
There are three wars in Sudan, a war in Syria, a political crisis in Egypt, a war in Afghanistan, a war in Congo, a something in Palestine (don't even know what it is anymore), all of which claim lives everyday. For what? Money? Power? Cheese? Whatever the reason, it's never worth it, ever. And the majority of us can't see that. See we all think that it's ridiculous that people could kill each other over land or oil. But they do, we do. Those engaged in wars and those making big decisions are also human. They think, eat, breathe like the rest of us. They too might think the wars are wasteful, but not wasteful enough to be called off. Some people around the world still think that killing people for oil or cocoa beans is worthwhile. And this is not their fault, because the world that we've created allows them to do so. It allows for East Asians to work for a pittance in the Middle East, it allows for billionaires to pop up in countries plagued by poverty, it allows for quarter of a million dollar cars to be driven in countries with no roads or street lights. It allows for alcohol to be advertised like it's a cure for cancer, it allows for Mo Ibrahim to write for the Christian Science Monitor, it allows people to overlook hunger and feel resentment at a set of words.
It's clear now that there's no difference between Obama and Bush, no difference between Al Mahdi and Bashir, or Mubarak or Morsi. The way things are is no coincidence. There will be no eradication of poverty, or solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. Modern day slavery will continue, most of the money will be controlled by a few, and Rihanna will continue to be a recording artist. So my proposition is simple. Let the West attack Syria, triggering a wave of contempt in the Middle East. Iran and Russia will join in to defend their ally. Israel will help the West in the Golan Heights. China will help Russia. The other Middle Eastern countries will only serve as bases for Western armies, and hence will get targeted by those supporting Syria. Japan will feel the need to join in and retake Pearl Harbour. India will attack Pakistan because during the last guard change the Pakistani guard's legs didn't go up high enough. Bangladesh will join India. Sri Lanka will join Pakistan, which will join Syria and co. The US will realise that it needs oil to fuel the war and will hence build a base in Uganda to secure the newly discovered oil. This move will upset China which is technically already fighting the US in Syria. China will start fighting the US in Sub-Saharan Africa from a Chinese restaurant in Sudan. A suicide bomber defending his country's sovereign rights that have been taken away by the West will blow up a holiday resort in Barbados. Military intelligence will deduce that there's a terrorist cell in the Bahamas, which will then be bombed by the US. Mexico will move in to protect the holiday makers in the Caribbean who form a large segment of the Mexican marijuana market, which is Mexico's largest export. Costa Rica will join Mexico. Brazil will provide ethanol to the US's fighter jets in the Caribbean. The UK will attack Argentina because of unfinished business. Mexico will attack Brazil for supplying the Ethanol, and for speaking Portuguese. This will spark a Spanophone versus Portugophone war in South America. The war in Syria will not go to plan, so the US and UK will ask for France's help. France will reject, and Italy will comply. France will bomb Italy for complying, and for Zidane's red card in the 2006 World Cup final. Germany will bomb France because they've done it before. Belgium will close its door and no one can come inside. Spain will close down Zara, this will cause outrage in the Middle East. A wealthy suicide bomber will blow up a mall in Spain. Eastern Europe will gain dependence and become part of Russia again, and join the war in Syria. As a contingency plan the US sends a nuclear missile towards Norway. Norway attacks Sweden for having more blonde people. Anyone with access to a nuclear arsenal will start entering coordinates. Nuclear missiles will be fired into Syria, Uganda and the Bahamas for maximum possible damage. Everybody dies.
The only solution is that we start over. From zero. From the first organism and earliest methanogensis. There's no other way. So tell your congressmen and MP's. The world needs the war on Syria - and the other two countries - more than anything else. And I'm sure my Greek friend will agree.
Disclaimer: Egypt was not mentioned in the scuffle because the world doesn't revolve around Egypt.