16 January 2010

Another Day Behind; And On-Time Too

David Brooks wrote about a much needed fundamental change in our approach to global poverty yesterday.

The kicker:
This is not a natural disaster story. This is a poverty story. It’s a story about poorly constructed buildings, bad infrastructure and terrible public services. On Thursday, President Obama told the people of Haiti: “You will not be forsaken; you will not be forgotten.” If he is going to remain faithful to that vow then he is going to have to use this tragedy as an occasion to rethink our approach to global poverty. He’s going to have to acknowledge a few difficult truths.
More so than usual, Brooks is a must-read.  He tackles some of the myths of poverty alleviation and begins to chart a faintly visible path to speaking about issues of poverty in more sensible way.

Deborah Bloom, in writing about faults (geological, not human), includes two poigant quotes from author and scientist Will Durant:
At one meeting of seismologists I attended, the organizers strung a banner across the front of the conference room with a quotation attributed to the historian Will Durant: “Civilization exists by geological consent, subject to change without notice.” I’ve always liked that line — its rebuttal of our natural hubris, our assumption that we inevitably lord over this small sphere in one of our galaxy’s lesser solar systems.

Durant, writing with his wife, Ariel, came back to this point again in “The Lessons of History,” drawing this time on a Biblical analogy: “To the geologic eye all the surface of the earth is a fluid form, and man moves upon it as insecurely as Peter walking on the waves to Christ.” Again, the Durants hit the right note because a crushing earthquake — like the one that devastated Haiti on Tuesday — brings with it a Biblical, a Homeric, epic sense of the world gone wrong.
Peggy Noonan's "Declarations" column is quickly becoming a first-read on Saturday mornings for me.  Today, it's the "disconnect."  Oh, Peggy, you feel it too?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you ever read "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey Sachs? It's good and is probably in line with what you and talking about.

Chris J