Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. – Martin Luther King, Jr. “Letter from Birmingham Jail” April 16, 1963
Those searing words are as apt today as they were a half century ago. We have not lived fully if we have not done our part to fight injustice.
- In some parts of the world a girl is more likely to be raped than to learn how to read.
- Every year, 60 million girls are sexually assaulted at or on their way to school.
- Worldwide, women and girls ages 15 to 44 are more likely to be maimed or killed by men than by malaria, cancer, war or traffic accidents combined.
- Only about one third of countries around the world have laws in place to combat violence against women, and in most of these countries those laws are not enforced.
- Every 2 minutes someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted, but 97% of rapists will never spend a day in jail.
- Murder is a leading cause of death for pregnant women.
- It costs just 25 cents a day to provide a child with the vitamins and nutrients to grow up healthy, but every hour 300 children die from malnutrition.
- One in seven people on earth goes to bed hungry each night, while 1,426 billionaires have a net worth of $5.4 trillion, more than 100 times the amount necessary to eradicate global hunger.
- 85 of the richest people on the planet are as wealthy as the poorest 3.5 billion.
- Our government regularly uses unmanned drones to fire missiles at ill-defined targets, slaughtering babies in the process.
- Our government detains people indefinitely with no charges and no recourse then jams feeding tubes down their throats when they protest.
- Our government assassinates its own citizens with no trial.
- Global military spending exceeds $1.7 trillion per year, 100 times more than annual cancer research spending.
- 1.4 billion people in developing countries live on $1.25 a day or less, while the top 40 highest-earning hedge fund managers made a combined $13.2 billion in a single year.
- Over a million people lose their lives to violence and millions more are injured and maimed every year.
- One in three black men can expect to go to prison in their lifetime.
- African American women are three times more likely than white women to be incarcerated.
- Over 40% of Americans live in a household with a gun, more than the percentage of young adults enrolled in college.
- The world’s nations pumped nearly 38.2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air from the burning of fossil fuels last year, which amounts to 2.4 million pounds of carbon dioxide every second, poisoning our children and endangering life on our planet.
- 1.6 billion people face economic water shortage, while 2 to 4 million gallons of water are used to frack a single well, contaminating aquifers with methane, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.
Humans cannot claim to be civilized when these travesties are allowed to continue. We truly share a “single garment of destiny” and if we accept one of the injustices above, we are enabling all of them.
Patton Oswalt’s beautiful and heartfelt Facebook post understandably struck a chord with a nation stunned by the carnage in Boston:
This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness. But the vast majority stands against that darkness … So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
It is an admirable sentiment and very moving, but tragically wrong. Considering it was endorsed by hundreds of thousands of people, I wanted to offer a contrary perspective.
First, the “prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence” are not paid by the majority of us but by innocent people neglected by the rest of the world. While we go about our lives, fretting over our iPhones and apps, sports teams and celebrities, there’s Aisha and far too many like her:
13-year old Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow was stoned to death in Somalia by insurgents because she was raped. Reports indicate that was raped by three men while traveling by foot to visit her grandmother in conflict capital, Mogadishu. When she went to the authorities to report the crime, they accused her of adultery and sentenced her to death. Aisha was forced into a hole in a stadium of 1,000 onlookers as 50 men buried her up to the neck and cast stones at her until she died. LINK
Salon’s Glenn Greenwald has spent the duration of Obama’s presidency asking a fundamental question of the left: Why are George W. Bush’s transgressions, which elicited fury from Democrats and liberals, acceptable when President Obama adopts – and embraces – them? In a recent post, Glenn decries the intellectual dishonesty he sees reflected in a Washington Post poll:
During the Bush years, Guantanamo was the core symbol of right-wing radicalism and what was back then referred to as the “assault on American values and the shredding of our Constitution”: so much so then when Barack Obama ran for President, he featured these issues not as a secondary but as a central plank in his campaign. But now that there is a Democrat in office presiding over Guantanamo and these other polices — rather than a big, bad, scary Republican — all of that has changed, as a new Washington Post/ABC News poll demonstrates.