I get these political emails in my inbox urging me to take various political actions on a variety of causes. One informative piece I received this morning informed me that China trades with Sudan, that wretched African dictatorship turning millions of refugees out to fend for themselves amid violence and chaos. The email sender urges me to contact Congress, along with thousands of others, and get it to send China a message that it should not trade with bad Sudan.
Come on. Seriously. Do they honestly think Congress is going to give a rat’s ass that China is trading with Sudan? Do they honestly think our petition is going to get anyone in Congress to care? Even if we didn’t have Iraq going on, even if we didn’t have troops in Afghanastan, even if the economy wasn’t in the tank, even if we weren’t facing a mortgage crisis, even if Americans had healthcare, even if everything at home were perfect, I sincerely doubt that Congress would care one iota that China trades with Sudan, at least not in any way that is going to jeopardize our cozy little monetary relationship. Money makes the world go round, honey, whether anyone likes it or not. The people concerned mostly with money run this country and probably every other country in the world. We do business with China so too bad for the Sudanese if they do business with China too.
Then of course there is the problem that China isn’t going to give a rat’s ass either even if Congress sent them a nice, stern message. Naughty China! Stop doing business with human rights abusers! Oh. But wait. China is a human rights abuser too. Dang. We couldn’t get China to stop its own human rights abuses. It’s not a big step to conclude China wouldn’t give one damn about Sudan’s human rights abuses either. Who knows? China and Sudan may even trade notes. And realistically, we’re not going to do anything. Hey China! You’re naughty! Stop killing priests and monks and everyone else in Tibet or we’ll get really, really upset with you! Oh, and can we set up a few more Walmart warehouses over there, maybe a few more in Beijing? And hey, why don’t we set some up near the Mongolian border too? Perhaps we can sell Panda paws or something for virility.
Yes. I know. I’m sarcastic and cynical and all that. But seriously, why don’t the activists who want me to get involved ask me to do something that isn’t going to be not only a huge waste of time, but a big damn joke as well? Congress doesn’t give a shit that Sudan commits human rights abuses any more than China does. I’m sure if you asked each Congress person individually if they were bothered by the human rights abuses they would probably say they are. But I seriously doubt many of them are going to do anything about it, especially with the other previously-mentioned big messes the US has to deal with and even more especially considering all of the money we owe China.
The problem with sending email after email after email and letter after letter after letter telling me about all these world problems and asking me to take steps that aren’t going to do one damn thing and may even work against the cause because no one will take them seriously is that it creates a sort of numbness to the constant barrage. There are a couple of organizations I belong to and to whom I give a bit of money from time to time. On occasion I will send a letter to the editor on an issue about which they have kept me informed. I’ve even called my Congress members when a vote is imminent. These are things I can do. These are steps that might add to the masses who want something to actually change. But signing some petition asking Congress to stop trading with China because of human rights abuses in Sudan is not only a waste of time, it’s likely to be perceived as a pathetic effort and possibly cause people to stop paying attention when something could actually be done.
That’s my soapbox for the day.