Thinking Out Loud

Be aware international travelers, it is now demanded that we arrive at the airport 3 hours before departure.  It’s possible to arrive at the boarding gate less than one hour before takeoff and be denied entry.  Our  airports in the U.S. have become military zones. Step out of line, ask to move ahead if you are running late and you will be reprimanded and threatened if you raise your voice.  I’ve noticed that most of the airport workers are immigrants with limited language skills, coming from third world repressive regimes. They have been indoctrinated to repeat the rules and make no decisions.   Finally they are experiencing how it feels to have power over others. We are prisoners of the state, our guards are the formerly oppressed. These facts are based on recent events at Seatac airport.

In contrast  Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris has couches for passengers to nap and friendly educated airport employees who speak several languages ready to assist.. Typically for most American airlines, there was no gourmet experience on the Delta ten  hour flight from Seattle to Paris.  On the Air France six and a half hour flight from Paris to Douala, Cameroon, we were served 3 gourmet meals with complementary bottled wine and alcohol. The complimentary wine on Delta came from a carton.

If anyone questions what is really going on between the Palestinians and the Israelis, you can find some of the answers in the roughly made documentary “Five Broken Cameras”.  A young Palestinian was given the first of five cameras in 2005 and began filming the nonviolent resistance in his West Bank village threatened by encroaching Israeli settlements.  The Israeli military responded aggressively with beatings, assault weapons and arrests.  Not much different than the Syrian nonviolent protesters who were gunned down by Assad’s army. One is never mentioned, the other incident is all over the news

I remember watching on CNN the tragedy of the Haitian earthquake in  January 2010.  People all over the world were pledging millions of dollars and hopefully the rebuilding would improve the lives of poor Haitians.  After 3 years and a cholera epidemic brought by Nepalese peacekeepers, there are still 360,000 displaced people in tent camps while aid workers and rich Haitians drive around in SUVs and eat in expensive restaurants. Again if non profits really helped, they would eventually be out of a job..

I always wonder how the Mexican workers feel when they are building castles on the sand for rich gringos and the Mexican elite.  Their monthly salaries are nearly the same as the daily rentals on these beach front mansions.

A nineteen year old English girl, volunteering as a primary school teacher in Malawi, was able to raise enough money through friends and family to build a school for children . Where were all the big NGOs before she came ?


Wealthy Africans treat their poor brothers as slave labor and do not want the working class to become educated. Most of the expats working for foreign companies, nonprofits or embassies in the developing world, take full advantage of the cheap labor as well.  Where in America or Europe can you have a house cleaner for $50 a month.?

Working for non-profits around the world is actually quite profitable. The pay is usually based on the NGO’s country of origin. Traveling expenses, hotels, meals, rent, drivers and cars are usually included. Most live in the capital cities in the developing world where imported food and wine is available. They rarely go to the villages where their work is being done. If they were able to educate and empower the poor, there would be out of a job in a few years.


South Africans, Brits, French, Dutch, and Germans build most of the resorts and safari parks in Africa. They charge tourists hundreds of dollars a day but pay their workers less than $80 a month for 60 hour work weeks.  Colonialism under another name is alive and well in Africa.


When the Dutch Boers, English and Lithuanian Jews came to South Africa in the early 1800’s, it was as primitive as the rest of Africa. Using knowledge, skills, education and a strong will, they built a modern world.  When the Europeans discovered and explored the African continent, the indigenous populations were still living in the bush. It is only in the last twenty years that children in black Africa are going to school.  The Muslim communities only now have started sending girls to school.

The majority of the population in most African countries, even those who can read,  have no books or writing tools . In most villages, schools have no libraries, homes have no television, radio or books and kids have no toys.

Someone in Cameroon said to me “Here the poor have religion, and the rich have money.  On my first trip here, I flew in extremely late at night and found a room at the Catholic mission. I couldn’t decide whether it felt like a convent or a prison but it was not on my recommended list of places to stay.  The next morning, searching for food, I walked into a crowded mass in the chapel. Most of the congregation was well dressed and after looking in the parking lot, I was surprised to see so many shiny new imported cars.  I decided the rich were doing penance for their ill gotten money.


Abortion was legalized 1978 in Italy and the Papacy has done nothing to try and change this law. Ironically when Pope Benedict visited Cameroon and Nigeria in 2009, he denounced the use of condoms against Aids and birth control. Most African governments prosecute women for murder if they are found to have had an abortion. I wonder if the Africans know that the Pope has no say over abortion or birth control in his own country but runs around the world scaring the ignorant and the poor.



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