Guns for Ghana.
Sunday, March 5, 2006. 8:22PM
Down the road from Zeedar Teretz's house there recently opened a coffee shop. It's a nice little place - very modern, very trendy. Very socially aware. Unless you specifically request otherwise they add $2 to your bill which they say they donate to disadvantaged youth in the area. On their menu, also, there is all the usual stuff: muffins, cookies, breakfast stuff, and down the bottom of every page there is another item that's a little unusual. Something from the latest TEAR Fund catalogue.
The TEAR Fund (The Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund) seems to be the charity of the moment for left wing middle class apologists like Zeedar Teretz's mother, and all because of one very clever marketing gimmick. You get to choose what you buy. They send you out a catalogue from which you can choose various different competitively priced products like goats ($50*), various education packages (ranging from $35 for adult literacy to $100 for Sewing and Weaving classes), and even big things like a 15,000 litre water tank ($1000). You pick what you want, fork over the cash, and they send you a nice little card which has a photo of the thing you bought (usually surrounded by smiling African children) and a little blurb about how helpful you've been. You can make the card out to a friend if you like, and they'll know that you did some good in their name.
This wouldn't even be an issue for me, because I don't ever really go to that coffee shop, and when I do, I guess I'm happy to pay the $2 in the hope that it'll get some kids of the street. At least, I'm more happy to pay it then I am to make a scene at the register about it, so the $2 gets paid. The only reason I even bring it up is because at the family function this year (a weird hybrid of Christmas and Hanukah because my extended family is a mix of Christians who want to be Jews, actual Jews, and devout Baptists who don't drink or dance) my mother was pushing the idea that instead of exchanging gifts, we'd all pool our cash and buy something from the TEAR fund. I really don't have any problem with helping Africa, but fundamentally I'm a tight bastard, so I started to make a whole lot of protests about developing a welfare dependency, and how if we wanted to help Africa we should invest in mining and manufacturing companies operating in Africa in order to increase employment, and in the long term create a remotely self sustaining economy in Africa. The big pharmaceutical companies dump loads of outdated medicines on African clinics, so maybe we should give the money to them, so they'll improve their AIDS medications yet again, giving us better medicine, and Africa the stuff we have now, which to them will seem pretty good. The more I argued, the more I began to think about what the situation must really be like in Africa, and the more I thought about that, the more I realised that Africa does have a real shortage of something that they really do need us to donate. What Africa needs isn't more goats. What Africa needs is more guns.
You see, at any given time about 1 in every 3 African males holds a membership in one of the various militias and armies that get around the place, involved in some kind of war. Of course, it aint war like we in the Western world know it. There are no main battle tanks and fighter jets. There are not even any suicide bombers or remotely triggered shaped charges. There are not even any military objectives. Hell, there are barley even any guns. There's just a bunch of black dudes going over to the next village down the road from them with a bunch of machetes. They rape all the pretty girls (actually, they rape pretty much all the girls, but the pretty ones get raped repeatedly), then they kill all the men and eat them, then kill all the girls they just raped and burry them in big pits, and then they take the boys back to their village to raise as the next generation of warriors, grab anything edible, and burn the place down.
It’s called primitive warfare and it’s called it for a good reason: it’s no so distant from what you’d have done fifteen thousand years ago with a large piece of stick and the head of the guy from the cave down the road. To me, it is pretty disgusting that it still happens. We live in a world with neutron-bombs and experimental rail guns and there are still people killing people with sharp knives! It’s deplorable, and it has to be stopped.
So I propose this: instead of sending Africa goats and water tanks for them to kill each other over, let’s send them some Kalashnikovs and nip the violence in the bud. You can buy a AK-47 for around $150USD in Egypt these days (a round is about fifty cents). The card below can be printed out onto a strong piece of card, and sent to your friends or co-workers when you choose to buy a gun for Africa. I encourage you to do this via TEAR Fund if they’ll honour your donation, but if they refuse it, zeedarteretz.com is willing to organise the distribution of your charity via this Paypal link.
Click here for your gift card (PDF format - 1.48mb).
I think it’s important during these turbulent times that we all look at how fortunate we are in the western world, and band together just a little to help out less fortunate brothers in African. Dig deep folks. The lives of millions of the world’s poorest people are at stake, and it’s up to us – all of us – to do something.
Who knows? Maybe united we can save the world.
* All prices based on 2005 catalogue.