What constitutes a moral imperative?

Displaced Camp

Heads hang low when there’s an escalation of conflict in the Middle East or Gaza Strip.  Similarly, the world looks on wearily when Mother Nature asserts her power with a deadly disaster.  The world mourns for the millions  murdered in Sudan; so why does the world seem to ignore the death of millions in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

The devastation of the humanitarian crisis in the Congo is second to only WWII.  Over 5.4 million deaths have been documented since 1998.  Warring factions have left hundreds of thousands dead, or displaced; but the majority of the 5.4 million deaths are related to malnutrition, cholera, malaria, and pneumonia  — all, of which, are preventable if proper food and health care are available.  It seems that war doesn’t only ravish a land, and a people, but so do the things that arise in the shadows cast by it.  Conditions are made even more unpleasant when everything, down to the tiniest detail of life, seems impossible to cleanse.  War and interrupted normalcy go hand-in-hand.  British poet, Rosenburg, penned a lackluster account of war in “Louse Hunting.”  It exhibits how terrible a tiny louse can be.  The true distress lice inflict is strong in the imagery of the crawling vermin:

“Soon like a demons’ pantomime
The place was raging.
See the silhouettes agape,
See the gibbering shadows
Mixed with the battled arms on the wall (pg. 14).”

The situation in the Congo correlates with the unrest of the soldiers in Rosenburg’s work.  Even when not immersed in the chaos of war, one is still amidst a battle.  The imagery of men writhing instills a sense of impossible unhappiness, and war — to me — is the epitome of moroseness.  The plague of diseases, which find breeding ground, in the constant war-zone of the Congo, could easily be prevented with proper medical facilities.  These ailments take the form of Rosenburg’s louse, the constant pest, the reason for added, unnecessary discomfort that is present in addition to raging violence.

Finally, I have been contemplating the notion of a moral imperative.  (From my Macbook’s dictionary) I’ve broke it down for easier dissection; moral: derived from or based on ethical principles or a sense of these, imperative: of vital importance.  If we consider ourselves good human beings, do we not have an ethical duty to do good to those who deserve our good will?  Or, are we excused, in this case, because we will never see the faces of those who desperately need our aid?  Nobody wants to focus on anything that could mitigate their morality.  I believe it is imperative to at least be aware of efforts for change.  I, personally, love grassroots movements, because they encompass the notion of: YOU can make the change you want to see.  Let’s mobilize, let’s spread the word, let’s donate (time, resources — there’s my plug for Amnesty International).  Anything to keep from sitting stagnant.  And with that, I’ll now step off my soap box.

International Rescue Committee. (2007, April). Retrieved September 15, 2009


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