Friday, July 11, 2008

Dos Pesos from Shrinky

Well, There you have it. Julia did a great job of describing our "Mr Toad's Wild Ride". It really was quite an experience. And the poor horse. Hopefully the bonanza of cash we paid will allow Rambo a day or two off and some extra oats.

Seeing the level of poverty here everyday really is a revelation. I've started reading the newspaper here everyday and it seems to be filled with stories of corrupt officials and good old buck passing and finger pointing. Fuel prices are strapping everyone here and food prices are also rising and there is a rice shortage to top it all off. Add to this the Missile tests in Iran and the "Country Club" meeting of the G8 and it is hard for me to feel optimistic about our future.

Here in metro Manila, the high gas prices have caused commuters to leave there cars at home and overload the LRT and MRT, the only commuter trains here (thanks Imelda!). This is clean transport running on electric power. A godsend in this very smoggy city. So the oil companies in there great wisdom and generosity (yes, that is sarcasm you smell) reduced the price of gas by one Peso. Whew!! Big oil to the rescue. One problem. Only cars and taxis run on gas here. Buses and Jeepneys, what the poor who have no cars and can't afford to ride the train or taxis use, run on Deisel. For which the price has remained the same. Simply put, the oil companies are trying to lure people off of the train and back into their cars while continuing to take advantage of those who have no choice. Business as usual!! Add to this the terrible air quality caused by the burning of this low grade diesel and no emissions control. And guess who is out in this air everyday riding around in open transports? Bingo, the poor. Meanwhile the G8 can only manage to agree that it is a good idea to cut emissions by 50% by 2050!!

Sorry, this is supposed to be an exciting chronicle of our adventures, but one thing about seeing the world is seeing how similar it is everywhere. The poor get poorer and sicker and the wealthy and powerful keep a firm foot on their necks. Maybe the world would change if we could all see this level of poverty everyday. I'm not offering any solutions here, but I do know that change begins within ourselves. Simply being aware of these conditions alters your point of view on the global situation. I urge you all to seriously ask yourself this question. " What can I do right now, every day, to effect a positive transformation in the world?"
It could be as small and simple as conserving energy, recycling, volunteering in your community to help those less fortunate than yourselves on an ongoing basis. Giving money to charity is great, but how many of us live in a daily awareness and active involvement in ending poverty? I don't. But I could.... I could.

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