As a small child I grew to loathe the wealthy. Adults laughed at my childish comments like “If there were no rich there would be no poor…” Even evident within my church and school community.
As I grew up, I knew I was right, especially when I discovered that more than 90% of the world’s wealth is held by an elite few. It used to be just the Rothschilds and such self indulgent, obscure, greedy families who never did a day’s work in their lives, relying instead on faceless fake money floating around Wall St.
Over time I got to meet people who worked 7 days a week, yet could barely feed their families. I saw people who were dying of basic lack. And I got to meet people whose hands were like a baby’s – they had never washed a dish in their lives, let alone been worked to exhaustion. They could only dream of luxuries such as a bath or a soft bed.
As a child one of my ‘things’ was music – still is. I devoured music magazines like today’s kids devour ridiculous tomes like Dolly and Cosmopolitan. I read of the excess of rock’s wild child types. I even got to meet some of them – and was less than impressed.
Since my childhood days, I worked in a volunteer capacity with various charities and began to see the world in all its ugliness. While those around me all marvelled at opulence and fame and material possessions, I could only see ‘stuff’ – unnecessary stuff – the value of which could have kept the world’s poor alive.
I’ve never been able to understand homelessness. Not the gypsy type – that is something very familiar to me, considering it is in my heritage. But the homelessness that comes by force – simply because someone cannot afford to live by the rules deemed necessary by society.
I’ve also never understood the greed and corruption that forces it. The same that results in entire communities or even nations living in appalling poverty while a select few drip with vulgar wealth.
So we return back to the word celebrity. Wealthy privileged families aside, today’s celebrities – famous for little more than clever business and puppetry, are the new wealthy elite. Oprah Winfrey is worth over 3 billion dollars. That’s a thousand millionaires, or tens of thousands living in relative wealth! What on earth does this woman, who supports a few token charities, need with that much money – especially when her own people are dying in squander?
Taylor Swift earns a reported 1 million dollars a day – every day. For what? No real talent there – clever spin and manipulation – but when truly talented people are dying in the gutter, busking on the meanest streets for a dollar, where is the sense in this obscene imbalance?
The Rolling Stones are worth 1.5 billion. Why? Okay, as a fan I would listen to their music but their concert tickets sure are not worth hundreds each! Mick Jagger is not one of the world’s greatest vocalists. And let’s face it, once you have heard one Stones song you have pretty much heard them all.
In my years lobbying and my meagre attempts at fund raising for my own charity which supposedly serves to help thousands of orphans, widows and animals in Uganda, and to raise the awareness of South African artists who are dying just waiting for the privilege of getting a decent day’s pay or even a fraction of their royalties, I have contacted everyone from Rowan Atkinson to Bono, to Peter Gabriel to Ellen Degeneres, to Oprah to – well, you name it. Any artist who made themselves look and sound better, more philanthropic, by sharing the stage with amazing South African talent – the same ones who are dying on the streets while their music is shared around the world. Not a single one was remotely interested.
So what do all these human beings do with their money? God only knows. After all, there are only so many clothes, shoes, cars, swimming pools and gold teeth that one can buy. It sure as hell can’t buy love or happiness, if the revolving marriage door of some of these people is anything to go by.
People support large charities – after all, they must be good! Not so. Many take up to 90% of their donations in admin, wage, living and socialising costs. Nothing like living in 5 star luxury, travelling in 1st class just so you can go and feed slop in the camps for a few hours a day.
Most of those in need slip through the cracks. So small charities pop up out of sheer need. And there is no money to go around? The only ones who want to donate are those who also have nothing. What of these celebrities? If they really want to help, they’d sponsor entire charities, not just adopt a child or two.
In my own case it takes about $10,000 US a month to take care of everything AND help build while setting up micro self funding business. But no, groups like Mukwano Mwana can’t even raise enough for a week. Go ahead, ask. Most want a tax dodge or some little thing called publicity…
And what of the entire nations living in poverty? If it seems like too much of an issue, take a look at just what it would cost to help everyone – less than what these privileged people earn in a very short time. There is MORE than enough to go around and put this rotten planet right.
IF they just let it go. Being given the world is a privilege and enforces a responsibility. Sadly miss that opportunity.