The country is experiencing difficulties. That’s called understatement.
Some of our more pressing problems include: what to do about violence in our police forces. Not to mention violence on our streets.
We have millions of families that have yet not recovered their hope, fortunes, and purposes due to the Recession of 2006 – 2011.
We have criminality and corruption at the highest levels of our government and in business, all untouched.
Our diplomatic pouch has been sliced open and its contents displayed before the world.
Our Allies are sitting on their hands, concentrating on their own problems. Our enemies are not sitting on their hands, but they are concentrating on their own difficulties, too. There is no such thing as an International Community that can help solve any intra-mural disputes between nations.
Strange and rare diseases are free to decimate world populations.
Nations are free to forfeit on international debt and obligations.
Jobs lost during the recession in this country are not returning and certainly, if they are, at a lower pay grade.
The military is exhausted.
The environment is being degraded minute by minute.
The nation seems, at this time, ungovernable.
Then suddenly along comes something called the Ice Bucket Challenge, and millions of people take the challenge, pouring ice water over their heads or offering checks to a charity instead (for ALS, or Lou Gehrig’s Disease, certainly a worthy group). It’s fun. It’s trending. On social media, it’s universally visible. 22 million dollars raised for research leading to a cure. It’s great to be part of something so important.
Now, there are orphan diseases and orphan drugs in the world. The former are those which affect comparatively few people around the world. The second is the fact that pharmaceutical companies cannot make sufficient money researching drugs for these lower-cases diseases, so they don’t. In the case of ALS, while it is dramatic and deadly, it affects annually 5600 new patients a year. That is insufficient for drug companies to invest billions in finding treatment or a cure.
Here are some other recent figures we find riveting.
Up to 46 million people in the United States, or roughly one in seven, do not have enough to eat. These people must rely on charity, on food kitchens, on restaurant leftovers, on glass bottle tops for cash, on working three or even four jobs at once in order to keep their families fed and clothed.
Breaking down the 46 million figure, we find this: using supplemental assistance (food stamps, food kitchens, etc.) are 26 per cent of the nation’s Afro-Americans, 20 percent of the nation’s Hispanics, 43 per cent of the nation’s WHITES, and 11 per cent somehow not categorized.
We stress the figure of the WHITE population on what we’ll temporarily call food-fare.
In addition to those figures, pollsters are finding that more and more adult college students are using food-stamps and kitchens and churches for food as well as solace as they,too, cannot find adequately paying jobs without doubling or tripling their work-time.
One other statistic we’d like to mention, all of these courtesy of PBS: 25 per cent of our active military members are also on food-relief. This includes members of the Armed Forces who have fought and returned safely to this country.
Hunger is not trendy. It is not glamorous. It is not fun.
It is dangerous. It is deadly. It is deadening.
And millions of happy Americans never see it or think about it or worry about it. Thank God for those thousands who do.
What we need and we need this right now are the PR wizards who energized so many contributors to the ALS campaign to make ending hunger an adventure, worthwhile, fun, exciting, and something narcistic enough to enlist the money and hard work that ALS managed to unearth. From Bill Gates to George W. Bush, from Kim Kardashian to Miley Cyrus, from Jamie Diamond to Warren Buffet, from the woman behind your lunch counter to the guy who hauls away your trash each day – we need them to want to take selfies of themselves helping to feed children, mothers, oldsters, the Armed Forces.
Some of those cited do in fact contribute.
But not with the joy, purpose, and sense of solving a common problem the Ice Bucket brigades have.
Why not? We suspect largely because people don’t imagine themselves on their uppers. People do imagine themselves and their families catching dread diseases.
But the numbers don’t lie. 5600 hundred new ALS patients per year; 46 million patients right now. Where is the sense of
proportion, of fear, of self-worth we all need to solve this gigantic problem?
In the very air we breathe but do not see.