Children are dying in a famine as we go on blithely about our lives

  • Article by: T.D. MISCHKE
  • Updated: August 8, 2011 - 8:48 PM
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Muhumed Surow grieves following the burial of his 12-month-old daughter Liin Muhumed Surowlays at UNHCR's Ifo Extention camp outside Dadaab, Eastern Kenya, 100 km (60 miles) from the Somali border, Saturday Aug. 6, 2011. Liin died of malnutrition 25 days after reaching the camp, Mumumed said. The drought and famine in the horn of Africa has killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days in southern Somalia alone, according to U.S. estimates. The U.N. says 640,000 Somali children are acutely malnourished, suggesting the death toll of small children will rise.

Photo: Jerome Delay, Associated Press

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It's 9/11 all over again. Hold your family close. Reevaluate what's truly important in life.Feel that powerful sensation of your fellow citizens coming together as one beating heart, and seek comfort from this shock by gathering with friends to share your grief.

Or just skim the headlines and move on with your day. It's your call.

Such is the choice presented by the latest news: Drought and famine in Somalia have killed more than 29,000 children under the age of 5 in the last 90 days.

Like 9/ll, it's a senseless, unnecessary and tragic loss of innocent life. Unlike 9/11, it doesn't affect most of us, does it?

I remember, in the weeks following 9/11, hearing over and over how nothing would ever be the same again. The world had changed. Why is the world not changing now?

We all know why, of course, but the reasons are unspoken. Just this once, let's speak them:

A) These are not "our" people, which can either mean not Americans, or not our particular ethnicity, depending on one's sense of tribal identity.

B) This is a part of the world, and these are individuals, forever cursed by this sort of thing. It's practically part of their culture.

C) It's not as though these poor souls had any great existence to begin with. They are not giving up happy, successful, interesting lives.

Did I miss anything? What other differences do we draw between this catastrophe and 9/11? Not the obvious one: This spectacle is far worse.

Yet tonight, I will barely take notice. I will come home from work and enjoy a little supper and an outdoor ball game. It should be a fine summer evening.

Shame on me.

Yes, I know, there's nothing new here. It's an age-old story on our planet. We also care more for our own children than for our neighbor's kids; what's my point, right?

My point is we should never be comfortable with this. Twenty-nine thousand little kids dying slow, painful deaths in a matter of 12 short weeks should rock us to our core. Food and water.

 All the children needed was food and water, something we have plenty of on this planet. The absurdity of it should leave us apoplectic.

But it doesn't.

One day, things will be different. With each passing generation, our consciousness is raised a tiny bit. We do not accept certain horrors today that we easily tolerated a hundred years ago.

But I don't ever again want to say that "the world has changed" and "will never again be the same" because something has happened to citizens of my country as opposed to those of another. I'm embarrassed to have ever believed such a thing.

If I am who I ought to be, or who I one day hope to be, those dead little kids shall haunt my dreams tonight.

I pray that they will.

T.D. Mischke has a nighttime talk show on WCCO Radio.

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