A couple of months ago we discussed different aspects of help in the post entitled “We all need help“. Asking for help is not the easiest thing. Some of us proudly admit to relying mostly on ourselves. Maybe we do not want to be indebted, or maybe we do not like the way help is given to us. When we ask for help, we make ourselves vulnerable and open to potentially sinister intentions. Sometimes we are given help without even asking for it, while other times we ask, but we do not receive. Asking for help and providing it is a delicate game, which intricacies we rarely ponder.
The first time that I heard about the Amazon burning was a week or so ago. Before that, I saw nothing about this on the Internet. What was interesting about the radio news was that it did not put the fires in the spotlight, but instead, it talked about the politicians from France and Brazil. The Amazon jungle was merely mentioned as an afterthought.
Contrary to popular belief, the Amazon is not burning but is BEING burned. Big difference. Many thought that is yet another natural disaster, but that is not the whole truth. While some believe that the majority of the fires are caused by farmers, Brazil’s President accuses NGOs of setting those fires because of his cut to their funding. We shall never know for sure. Politics have definitely made the world a muddier place.
Although the jungle burns every year, especially during the dry season, it is confirmed that the amount of fires is the highest since the year of 2010. Environmentalists say that farmers clearing the forest to turn it into pasture for their cattle are a big reason for the fires. 12% of what once was the jungle is now farmland. Secondly, some areas are being torched so that new trees can be planted for loggers who raise forests for wood.
The Amazon is the largest rainforest in the world, growing in nine separate countries (Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, French Guiana, Guyana, Peru, Suriname, and Venezuela). It is estimated that it stores 100 years worth of carbon emissions produced by humans. Over the past 25 years, the jungle has been decreased in size by almost 20%. As many as 30 million people live on the territory of the Amazon.
Millions were pledged during the G7 summit, but I am not sure how much made it to Brazil, because of the Brazilian President – Bolsonaro. At the G7 summit, countries came together and discussed the fires in the Amazon, and came to a conclusion that it would be in everyone’s best interest if they helped out. They pledged $22 million, but they did not just hand the money over. In a typical fashion, the politicians made a speech condemning Brazil’s President, his laws and his actions. They blame him for some of the increase in fires. What do you do when you feel attacked? You go on the defensive and try to throw a punch when possible. Brazilian’s President quickly voiced his disapproval of the words of others. He felt insulted, and he thought that the sovereignty of his country was being threatened by the meddling of the other countries.
Brazil said they would not accept money from France unless Macron apologizes for being insensitive towards Bolsonaro. Moreover, Brazil managed to throw a punch as well, saying that maybe France should spend that money on planting forests of their own in their country. Bolsonaro also mentioned the recent Notre Dame fire and said that if one cannot prevent something like that, one should not be trying to lecture others. Speaking of Notre Dame, how is it that within days there were hundreds of millions pledged, but only 22 million was decided to be given to Brazil? Thankfully, individuals from around the world are donating money to try and aid the crisis in the beautiful rainforest.
The heads of France and Ireland decided to blackmail the President of Brazil and said they would move ahead with a trade deal with South America only if Brazil lives by the Paris climate accord and takes specific measures to decrease the danger for the jungle. Some countries withdrew their funding in fear that it would help nothing.
It is like a ping-pong match. France throws shade at Brazil, and then Brazil bounces it right back. Or the other way around. First, France condemns Brazil climate/ environment-related laws, then Bolsonaro makes fun of the age difference between Macron and his wife. Then the President of France called the President of Brazil sad and rude. Now what? Brazil wants an apology before it receives money.
I can definitely see the reasoning of both sides. If you give money to people on the street, you do not give them conditions related to how they should spend it. You do not question them about their life choices. You either give them the money or you do not. That is a simple decision you are able to control. The rest is in their hands. Money in politics can be a very slippery slope. How does lobbying work? You pay someone money to do what you want. If you put conditions on the money you are donating, you are strongarming the person (or entity) in need. You are feeding on their primal fears. Have you ever been in a spot too difficult to climb out of and you said: “I would give ANYTHING to get out of here”? Now imagine the devil dropping by and saying: “I will help you, but you have to sign this deal with me”.
Is this not unbelievable? Instead of focusing on the true emergency – the fires, many turned their heads towards the mud wrestling match of politicians. It might be even entertaining at times, but I hope that one day when I am in a crisis, they will not be slinging mud at each other, but instead will be banding together to help. One can only hope…
How much power should the person giving the help have?
Where does pride step in when it comes to receiving help?
Do you think Brazil should accept the money humbly?
Should the G7 countries be putting conditions on Brazil?
When should we stop spending money on others and focus on ourselves?
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