Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Bark: Meltdown

There was a much larger queue than usual when I filled up the car on the way to work this morning, thanks to people panic buying petrol in the face of impending fuel blockades, despite repeated calls by automotive organisations not to panic buy.

Whilst I'm not particularly keen on the high cost of petrol (it cost me £60 to fill up this morning - around £10 more than I was paying at the beginning of the year), I think that the way people are stampeding towards meltdown like we did five years ago is little short of pathetic in the face of the real hardship and human tragedy in Niger. I find it faintly disgusting that the news agencies should prioritise coverage of idiots unnecessarily topping five litres of unleaded into their cars over the genuine horror of the West withholding aid from Africa (or at best, not properly managing its distribution) that's allowing dozens of children to starve to death EVERY DAY.

No, the fuel crisis is *far* more important, because WHITE PEOPLE ARE BEING MILDLY INCONVENIENCED! Last night I watched a report from Niger featuring a young child dying from because his malnutrition had gotten so bad, his lungs had become infected and he couldn't breath anymore. The look of fear, pain and helpless misery in his eyes and face were heart-rending, and I'm not someone overly prone to sentimentality. And yet we stand by doing nothing, whilst we all rush out to fill up our tanks, wailing about how the world is ending because we won't be able to drive anywhere at the end of the week. Kind of puts things in perspective really - not being able to drive versus STARVING TO DEATH. The media needs to get its priorities sorted out, so then maybe we could too. The famine in Niger has been anticipated for months, but has it garnered the same number of column inches as the price of oil? Of course not - and that's the real tragedy: when the luxury of the rich few becomes more important than the basic standard of living for the many poor.

So next time you whinge about the price of petrol, just consider yourself lucky that you're actually in a position to be paying £1 a litre for it - because billions of people in this world aren't.
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