Some of the stuff you find on LiveJournal is plain disturbing and amusing. This entry was particularly good fun. If people are going to be trolls, they could at least not be so inane and uncreative about it, and if they're trying to be satirical, they need to give up quick.
To randomly change topic (actually, to lead back up to the political spark I mentioned before), a couple of nights ago, I was watching a DVD of a documentary called World In Action, and it discussed the major influence U2 had on Ireland and the world as a whole (bear in mind it was made in 1987 and it makes it even more significant). I found it interesting and it made me feel all happy and proud to be a fan of such an awesome band ... and then the end of Bullet The Blue Sky struck. I was sitting there quite merrily when it slammed into me like an articulated truck. 27 June 1987, Croke Park, Dublin. When you watch it on the DVD, it's mindblowing, and before Bono even turned to walk away in disgust, my political spark had been reignited.
The time after then has been an emotional rollercoaster. I was sent into a raging fury against injustice in the world, and then the next morning, I collapsed into the depths of depression, but today ... for most of today, I've felt just as good as I normally do. Business as usual really. Maybe a bit procrastinatory, but business as usual. At the moment, I feel like something's about to give, that something's going to snap and I'll collapse back into my rut, but I'm actively countering it. What am I doing? Well, first of all, I made axver_part_ii so that I can read my RSS feeds on a different page - my friends page was getting too cluttered so I decided I'd just transfer everything and make life easier. Secondly, I guess I should inform you that the next little while is going to be extremely busy, so if I seem to have no clue about what's going on over on your LiveJournal, it's because I just haven't had time to read and I apologise for that. Thirdly, I am going to have a little bit of a ... notrant. Yeah, notrant. Because I felt like calling it that.
Some of you may have already heard of Operation Christmas Child run by Samaritan's Purse, and my school happens to be taking part in it, as per usual. For those who don't know, what you do is fill a shoebox with various items (toys, writing equipment, maybe some food, et cetera), wrap it up as a gift, and it is distributed to children in Third World or underdeveloped countries at Christmastime, with a Christian message hanging over it.
Sure, on the surface, it sounds quite nice. All these unfortunate little children receive gifts at Christmastime, and you get to see them run around, smile, and do all kinds of cute things. Everyone say "awww" with me. Ready? Set? Don't.
Lately, we have been studying the issue of appropriate aid in Geography. As anyone with even the faintest clue about economics can tell you, throwing money at a problem won't necessarily solve it, but money is a valuable resorce. When dealing with a crisis, individuals and organisations must work directly with all involved parties and work towards a solution while giving due consideration to history, culture, traditions, et cetera. Solutions involving aid must be sustainable, both short- and long-term, benefit the community as much as is possible, and provide necessities before providing comfort. Giving a family money to buy new clothes is nice, but vaccinating them against malaria is even better. Teaching literacy for a year is nice, but a long-term literacy programme is even better.
This is where Operation Christmas Child comes into play. It is a nice idea. Those who are organising it appear to have only the best of intentions, those who are participating appear to be sincere, and I admire their efforts to brighten the lives of the less fortunate and to, in the words of Band Aid's Feed The World, "let them know it's Christmastime." I am not trying to argue against the project. However, I would like to discuss its shortcomings. This discussion could be quite easily applied to a number of other aid programmes.
I would like to know two things. The first is what happens when the cameras filming the happy faces go away. Once the children return to the huts, what happens? The toys break. The pencils need a sharpener. The children need to be literate to know what to do with the paper. You get the point. Some will sell their gifts for money, or their parents will, and not always because they are desperately poor. The aid simply is not appropriate. It may have many positive benefits in the extreme short-term, but long-term, it is not profitable or viable.
This leads to my second point. Aid should use resources most effectively. Operation Christmas Child brings temporary happiness, but what if the amount of money spent on gifts was instead spent on drilling wells or distributing vaccinations against preventable diseases? What if the aid workers taught children how to read instead of handing them a gift and saying "Jesus loves you"? (I have a problem with them telling the children that, by the way, but I won't get into it now) Essentially, could the money invested in Operation Christmas Child and the infrastructure in place to support it be better utilised? Appropriate aid provides the greatest benefits and deals with both the short- and long-term. Sadly, despite what are only good intentions, Operation Christmas Child is not appropriate aid.
There's my notrant.
On a far less serious note, I had a really amusing dream last night. Bono came to speak at my school for some unknown reason, and when he finished, I suddenly discovered I was amazingly athletic and shot to him before anyone else could. In true Axver fashion, I began talking to him, and I got some information on the new album ...
(Background - There are rumours U2 will do another 'city' song, like Miami and New York. Fans have been speculating what city it might be, and Bono solved the mystery in my dream.)
Bono: There will be a song about Kansas City.
Uh ... what? Kansas City? Bono is even more crazy in my dreams than he is in real life.
--- 8:12pm ---
'At the moment, I feel like something's about to give, that something's going to snap and I'll collapse back into my rut ...'
Something just snapped. I'm now back to feeling inexplicably and irrationally sad.
In situations like these, never underestimate the power of U2's Drowning Man or Heartland.