Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Iraq still needs. And America grows weary.

I was explaining this to a few people of late, both Iraqis and Americans. One was an Iraqi that thought there might be some support for programs that are essentially “private microfinance”, in other words, people here buying products made there in order to help the economy and also get a good product back for their input. I had to tell him that the audience here is much more limited for supporting that kind of thing than it was even one year ago.

One was an American gentleman that is in the beginning stages of a non-profit startup. When I explained to him the problem, he said, “Wow, that’s just what I heard from the lady that runs another non- profit that supplies soldiers with things from energy bars to toothpaste. And she’s got two sons in Iraq, and it’s depressing her that people and companies no longer want to give the way they did in the past.” “How did you know that?” How? I’m an American, and I’m in touch with the military community, Iraqis, non-profit world, and the blogosphere in one way or another daily.

What I told him was this. It’s harder than ever to get funding for projects in Iraq now. Here’s why:

-We are more of an impatient, short term, instant gratification society than we used to be.

-Americans are looking at almost three years of being in Iraq and all that most of them see is “nothing has really changed much” (they are looking only at levels of violence-there's a reason for that, but that's another post). Meanwhile, they are still having taxes going to be used in Iraq (and that money does NOT just fuel the military, it fuels all kinds of civil programs there which are designed to get Iraqis working and learning, which is very important, but undervalued in the press).

-Many Americans have given, more than once, during the first two years of OIF and are “done” with it mentally. The thought goes, “I gave to that charity, and that one, and I’m still giving through taxes to Iraq.”

-Natural disasters. The tsunami happened. Katrina happened. The earthquake happened. When these disasters occur, all funds are immediately frozen and re-allocated within the government. Things like shipping over items for Universities in Iraq, which was a program that the State Dept was part of, get all of their funds for that frozen and stripped to help alleviate whatever is determined to be the highest priority need of the moment. Plus, people themselves give to these worthy causes as well, and that means that there’s only a limited supply of cash to go around from the everyday people that make up a lot of the support base for non-profits and disaster relief agencies.

All of this means to me that the needed people are not making a good case for Iraq, for why we are there, or what our soldiers are doing, or how we envision it could be, based on real examples of change, if we are patient. Note to people in DC: Yes, yes, the enemy is strong and determined but we are more so…blah, blah, blah. This is AMERICA, people want to hear something NEW. Even if it isn’t new because it just hasn't gotten play, make it sound new! For crying out loud, marketing isn't that different from politics, and in fact plays a hefty role in it, like it or not. Reality is, the blogosphere is still limited, though its potential is not. I personally know more people that still watch the MSM for their news, and I know a heck of a lot of bloggers, so that tells me something. Corporations often don’t give where Iraq is concerned, even in support of our troops, because they are afraid of being politically labeled.

Our military deserves better from her people. We ought to ask ourselves what is truly at stake here? And pick a side. And then support it, and know that it will be like having a child. It may need to be supported for years. But at the end, you get the joy of watching them fly away to self-fulfillment and a life of their own, learning personal responsibility and the joy that can come with that.

And isn’t that what we all want to leave behind from our time on this earth? Something more than just us, than our careers, our money, our material goods? Something that reaches into history. Something that long after we have died, leaves even one person’s life better. Something that makes a difference.

You can still make one. And you are still needed in this. More now than ever.


Anonymous About Medicine Blog said...

The earthquake happened. When these disasters occur, all funds
are immediately frozen and re-allocated within the government.

5:38 PM  

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