Sunday, April 19, 2009

Millions of Stories to Break Your Heart

Here’s a story to break your heart: the father of Rubina Ali, one of the child actors from Slumdog Millionaire, is trying to sell his daughter for £200,000.

The comments that follow the story are also disturbing. Everyone is looking for someone to blame. It’s the father. No, wait, it’s the government of India. No, no, it’s Danny Boyle for casting her in the film and not making her a millionaire.

But no one is to blame. Rather, we all are to blame. Why? Because we only pretend to value human life. Most of us value our own lives and those of the people we love and perhaps our neighbors, but only the ones who look and think like us. The rest of the time? We value our ideas about how good and wise and useful we are.

If we really valued human life—and by “we” I mean all human beings—we would not have war or slavery or rape or hundreds of millions of people dying slowly of starvation or dehydration.

Actually, I’m not too worried about Rubina. She is such a special child. Someone will help her. But I am very worried about all the other Rubinas, the ones whose names we don’t know:

The 25 million children displaced annually by war

The untold numbers of child soldiers

The 5.8 million children who die everyday from hunger related causes.

The 2 – 13.5 million who have been stolen or purchased--often from their parents--and who labor in factories and fields and private homes and brothels. (2007 Trafficking in Persons Report by the United States State Department, p 10)

Who will save them?

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