One of the things I always enjoy on Sunday mornings is sitting back with my coffee to watch the political talk shows. I’m sort of a news junkie, and I am fascinated by international relations. I’m always intrigued by the reactions of American politicians to events around the world.
I hear a lot of talk about ‘American values’ on these shows.
This morning there was a moment when the placement of an ad brought those values into very sharp focus for me.
I was watching Candy Crowley on CNN, talking to US politicians about the situation in Ukraine. They were debating how we should respond, and the reactions were pretty typical and not very surprising. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Democrat) said that the President has reacted appropriately, and that we need to use diplomatic and economic pressures to try to influence Russia. Sen. John McCain (Republican) said that the President was being “cowardly” and that he should immediately send weapons and military support to the Ukrainians.
So here we go again. The battle cry is on. “The US needs to send military support to Ukraine/Syria/Libya/Iraq/Afghanistan!!!”
Before I had a chance to really react, though, CNN took a break and an ad came on. It featured the face of a tiny, wizened, beautiful African child, gazing into the camera with enormous eyes.
It was an ad for Unicef. It showed us image after image of starving, dying children. It told us that for “Fifty cents a day”, we could save a life.
The babies looked like these:
Fifty cents a day to support one of these children? Wow.
It got me thinking. It got me wondering if John McCain or Dianne Feinstein would like to give more money to UNICEF. It got me wondering how much money the US Government does give to UNICEF. It got me wondering how much the US government spends in a year on war.
So I did a little research.
The US Government allocated $132 million dollars to UNICEF in FY 2013. The US Government spent $92.3 billion dollars on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in FY 2013. Billion. With a B!
Holy priorities, Batman.
I did a little more research. Did you know that according to Charity Navigator, 91.1% of all money given to UNICEF goes directly to the needy? That’s a lot of babies who didn’t starve to death or die of water born illness.
Makes me wonder. If we could somehow improve the lives of families around the world, would the need for all this war decrease?
I know that’s a ridiculously simplistic notion. Still, I wonder.
And as I go to the UNICEF webpage to make my donation, I think I’ll also write a letter to my Congressmen and Senators. I will politely suggest that we refrain from spending even more money on weapons and war and shift our focus to education, food and healthcare around the world.