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Too Self-Absorbed to Care

2 million children under 14 years old are HIV positive“The essential feature of irony is the indirect presentation of a contradiction between an action or expression and the context in which it occurs.”

I live in Orange County, and I recently heard that if Orange County were it’s own country, it would be the 5th wealthiest country in the world. Earlier this week, I was invited to attend a fund raising event for some organizations whose goal is not only to raise awareness of dire issues in Africa and other parts of the world but also to do something about it.

Tonight I attended the event which was held at a local outdoor mall. The event took place in an area about the size of half a football field. The central focal point of the event was a stage where a handful of musicians performed songs to entertain the crowd. Behind the stage was a Ferris wheel.

Ferris Wheel

Scattered throughout the area where we stood were mannequins painted in such a way as to represent some hardship that the organizations wanted to bring awareness to. At the base of each mannequin was a sign that stated some unfortunate fact.

64% of children in Sub-Saharan Africa do not have adequate sanitation In Sub-Saharan Africa, a child dies of measles nearly every minute. Measles vaccine costs $1. 1 in 6 African children dies before the age of 5. 200,000 child slaves are sold every year in Africa 33% of African population suffer from malnutrition 1 in 2 people in Sub Saharan Africa survive on less than $1 a day.

There’s more but I think you get the point. The crazy thing to me is that most of the people at the fundraiser were too busy watching the performers on stage to pay any notice to the signs. The songs being performed had little to nothing to do with the signs or the organizations. Several songs talked about sadness… the kind that comes with a broken heart when a woman leaves a man or vice versa. They were sad love songs. They said nothing about the sadness we all might have felt if we had taken the time to read the statements on the signs.

Since the event took place at a mall, the event was surrounded by upscale stores that sold designer bags, gourmet chocolate, and heart-shaped dog dishes. Most of the event attendees wore the same clothes that were being sold nearby. Everyone’s hair was well-styled and no woman was without makeup or jewelry. Immediately to the right of the event stage was “The Funnel [Cake] Factory” and “Golden Spoon Frozen Yogurt”, both of which sold desserts that cost more than all of the food that I ate today.

I walked away from the event at one point and looked at the front of several of the stores. One store was “Hallmark”, a gift card store whose slogan is “When You Care Enough to Send the Very Best”. Most cards at Hallmark cost between $1 and $5. The store is lined with them! From what I could see from the window, I estimated 10,000 cards in this one store alone! As you can see from the second sign above, at an average of $2 per card, that is enough money to save 20,000 lives!

The more I walked and looked at the stores and their marketing slogans and gimmicks (“Buy one [$100] dress and get the second at half price” and “If it tastes good, eat it”), the more nauseous I became.

Toward the end of the event, two of the top organization leaders came up and announced that they had raised $5,000 and 300 shoes that would all go to needy people in Africa. I think that is awesome. Sadly, I am just not sure how well the overall message was received. When the night came to a close, there was a long line of people waiting to get an autograph from one of the performers, but I didn’t notice anyone standing in line to donate or get more information regarding the causes.

What I did see a lot of during and after the event was guys flirting with girls, children asking their parents for candy, shoppers buying $100 designer sunglasses, young people admiring their own appearance, and more. Everyone seemed to be self-absorbed and only interested in how they could pleasure themselves.


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