Saturday, May 17, 2008

The Tangled Web


A few months back, Crunchy Chicken launched a non-profit called Goods 4 Girls, which provides African teens with reusable menstrual pads to enable them to stay in school. I guess that's super nice of her. I'm sure those girls will be happy with their Lunapads or whatever. There is supposed to be some impact on the environment, something to do with burning disposable pads, which was the alternative provided by certain companies, and, as us greenies know, disposable everything is bad.

Still, as nice a gal as Crunchy is, couldn't she have picked something with more environmental punch? At least something closer to home? Keeping teens in Africa in school . . . it just seems we might put our efforts to more efficient use.

As it turns out, Crunchy knew what she was doing.

According to my recent read, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet, keeping girls in school longer in undeveloped countries directly impacts fertility rates. Because they are in school, they are less likely to get married at a younger age and begin child-rearing. Further, education empowers women to speak up more and negotiate with their spouses about, among other things, family size. This, in turn, will decrease overpopulation in undeveloped countries, alleviate the food crisis in coming years, prevent resource exhaustion and alleviate political instability (e.g., terrorists and genocide).

Common Wealth made clear to me, this planet is smaller than we realize. All life - from the smallest bees to teens in Africa - is interconnected. Scientists repeatedly point out how one species' extinction affects the entire ecosystem that species once inhabited, throwing nature's tightrope balance off. We humans are not exempt. We are, not only linked with millions of non-human species, but we are tied to each other - even when we are half a world a way. Instability in the Middle East clearly impacts us in the form of terrorist attacks. Deforestation in the Amazon speeds up climate change. As humans, as Americans we find ourselves perched on the spider web that is the Earth. When one thread breaks, the stability of the whole is in jeopardy.

What a tangled web we weave and what sense it makes after all to help those we cannot see.



18 comments:

Lynn from organicmania.com said...

Beautiful reminder.

Sometimes I remember being in school and studying about how in the future we would all be interconnected through globalization. The future is now.

I blog a lot about organics, but recently felt almost irrelevant doing that given the global food crisis, so I blogged about that as well, trying to remind all of us that if you have the choice between organics and conventional foods you are truly blessed, adn giving people a way to donate to the UN World Hunger Fund.

Amazingly, some folks wrote back to me suggesting charities closer to home. It's always good to help at home but we need to do more in the world too. I think the situation in the developing world defies a lot of Americans' imagination.

Going Crunchy said...

Wow, so glad you liked Common Wealth! Pretty powerful stuff. The first chapter or so just grabbed me by the gym shirt and shook me.

We are all connected.......

Green Bean said...

Lynn, thanks for the comment. We are so very blessed here. That is why I too am surprised when people suggest charities in the US over ones in the developing world. There is no doubt that there are people here in the US that need help but our poor don't even compare to the average person in third world countries.

Shannon: Yes, you were the one who turned me on to Common Wealth. I am now working my way through Break Through which I think is a really nice compliment to Common Wealth. I felt like my thinking grew up reading those books. I suddenly started to get how important it is to think about other countries, how we can raise the standard of living worldwide and what a positive impact that will have on conservation and how not all things are exactly what they seem. Interesting reads.

arduous said...

Beautiful post, GB. But ... um, please tell me you set your blog to update at 3:40 and you didn't actually start your day at 3:40 am!!

Green Bean said...

Shhh, Arduous, only you would notice that! ;-) I'm away on vacation and set the scheduled under POST OPTIONS when you finish your post. Detailed instructions can be found on the page when you log in to edit your blogger account. Just scroll down a few posts.

Beany said...

This book is already on my very long list of books to read...but thanks for writing this post. Its something I think about quite a bit.

Hope your vacation is restful.

badhuman said...

I've never heard of that book but I will definitely check and see if my local library has it.

Thanks for the tip.

eco 'burban mom said...

Thanks, GB... I have always thought if I was a mother in one of those regions of the world without adequate drinking water, medical care, food or personal hygiene items, I just might be blessed enough for someone to help my family. It's a very relevant point that we often overlook.

arduous said...

Oh good. Because I started to get afraid that having two pre-schoolers meant getting up at 3:40 and I was rethinking ever having children. Kidding! Kidding!

Have a great vacation!

Green Bean said...

Arduous, bad news. Having two preschoolers actually does mean that you are up at 4am. I was literally awake but in my bed bc my youngest was up and we're visiting family so stuck in one room. That said, the only parenting advice I ever give to those who have not yet had children is SLEEP all you can, whenever you can, as much as you can.

Donna said...

Nice post. Sorry about the 4AM thing. I was up the other night at 2AM when mine wanted his "ear muffs" because the little fan we put in his room was too loud. I've heard it gets better when they get older...

Natalie said...

Nice post. We definitely forget how connected we are, whether we want to be or not.

****
Aahh. I guess one of us had to break the bad news to Arduous. If it's any consolation, I find it much easier to do without sleep the older I get. I used to need at least 7.5 hours (but usually much more) every night before I had my daughter at 29. I was a real diva about it, too! Now, at 34 with two kids, I can easily survive on very little sleep. Not that that's healthy...

Melissa said...

I've been thinking a lot lately about this sort of thing. I cringe every time I hear people say, "but we have so many problems here at home." No we don't. Not on the same scale anyway. I don't know why people seem to be comfortable just thinking "I'll take care of people in MY country/state/town, and the people elsewhere can take care of themselves" but that sort of thinking is really just divisive - and, in my opinion, why this world is in a lot of the messes we're in.

Theresa said...

Call me kooky but I've found that meditation really helps get a concrete sense of that interconnection. When you focus on your breathing, and realize that the molecules going in and out of your lungs are the exact same ones that have gone through countless others' lungs, thousands of miles away, the connection is that much more real, and intimate.

When I think about it, I get the same "whoa!" feeling in my brain as when I look up at the stars and imagine how tiny we are in the vastness of the Universe.

Beautiful post Green Bean! Do enjoy your downtime :)

Crafty Green Poet said...

I taught in a school in Malawi for two years and your comments are entirely right. Education for young women in Africa has huge impacts that ripple out much further than one might at first glance expect.

Everything is connected too, you're so right, if only we thought about the full and wider impacts of what we do.

CindyW said...

This is sort of related :) A while ago before miro credit was all the rage, I read a report on Grameen bank. One of their positive side effect of loaning money to poor women in small villages was that the birth rate went down significantly. Apparently women gained economic power and had some say in whether they wanted to have more children. Through trade and communication beyond their villages, they also came across effective birth control methods.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Wow, thanks!

For those of you interested in helping out, Goods 4 Girls will be sending out two large shipments of pads to Kenya and Uganda next month, so if you want to donate now is a good time!

MamaBird said...

Great post, and I am so glad you are on vacation! We are sleep-challenged here as well but still fortunate... Oh, Arduous, you can't fathom how difficult having children will be until you actually have them, and then therefore don't care at all how hard it is....

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