Monday, December 15, 2014

Do They Know Its Christmas?

Do They Know Its Christmas?




Back in the early 1980’s, which is the dark ages of the information age, there was a horrible famine in Ethiopia. During that time, the BBC aired a documentary chronicling the famine and how thousands were literally starving to death. In the way the Holy Spirit seems to move, (Sir) Bob Geldof, the lead singer of the punk band the Boomtown Rats (famous for I Don’t Like Mondays) happened on that particular documentary and was so moved to create a charity effort. He and Ultravox lead singer Midge Ure co-wrote the anthem, Do They Know its Christmas, to raise money and awareness for the famine sufferers. Assembling together a calvcade of early 1980’s Brit pop superstars including: Bono, Boy George, Duran Duran, Bananarama, Big Country and the Police. The radio station I listened to at the time started promoting it and there was a screening of the making of it on MTV, which my friends and I eagerly watched. I couldn’t wait to get the 45 of the song, so I could do my part. The following summer, the Live Aid concert was held to raise additional funds for Ethiopia to provide food, shelter and medicine. The concert featured probably the greatest performance by Queen ever, as well as a few other seminal concert moments. I was on holiday in Australia at the time and had a chance to go to the local Live Aid concert in Sydney (my poor aunt and grandmother, being dragged by me to it) so I can say, yes, I was there. INXS was the headlining group, and it was just as they were beginning to get huge in the States, so it was kind of cool to be a part of history.



It is possible for one person to change the world. Yes, George Harrison held his concert for Bangladesh back in the early 1970’s, but one song helped spawn a movement. If it wasn’t for happenstance, We are the World (the American equivilient of Do They Know it Christmas) would have never happened. The Big Man and I are on opposite ends of the musical spectrum, and he much prefers We are the World (my personal opinion: hated it). It also spawned Hear’n Aid, which consisted of heavy metal bands. The video has a bit of Spinal Tap-ish quality to it, which by today’s terms is quite quaint and funny. The downside is that Band Aid spawned a thousand other fundraising songs and concerts (the best was when the Simpsons’ spoofed Well Aid for Baby Jessica).



Band Aid did change me, as it brought awareness of the outside world to my door. I was so excited to do my part, that by buying a record I could change the world.



My consciousness was raised.



My future as an advocate for social justice was secured.



In the late 1990’s, I did a lot of agitating for the Jubilee campaign. It was based on the Biblical principle of a Jubilee, where debts were forgiven and the slate wiped clean. It was a chance for the emerging world to escape crushing foreign debt and begin to invest in resources at home, to prevent the need for future loans and stopping the vicious cycle. This soon morphed into the Millenium Development Goals, cast by the United Nations to eradicate poverty within one generation.



There are eight goals:



ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY AND HUNGER

ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION

PROMOTE GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWER WOMEN

REDUCE CHILD MORTALITY

IMPROVE MATERNAL HEALTH

COMBAT HIV/AIDS, MALARIA AND OTHER DISEASES

ENSURE ENVIRONMENTAL SUSTAINABILITY

DEVELOP A GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR DEVELOPMENT

The Anglican Communion (which I as an Episcopalian, am a proud member of) has helped raise awareness for this campaign through various means. There are so many things that one can do on a daily basis to make these goals a reality. By purchasing fair trade products, you are helping making these goals a reality. Offering a screening of No Woman No Cry, a brilliant documentary on maternal health around the world, will help raise awareness of child mortality and maternal health. Supporting the March of Dimes will also help raise awareness of those issues in our country as well. The RED campaign, as well as www.one.org has continued to combat AIDS, and raise awareness of how the disease affects the developing world, as well as the first world. Episcopal Relief and Development and Heifer International both offer opportunities to personally contribute to making these goals a reality. By meeting these goals, it is a hope that my son’s children will know a world where extreme poverty, hunger and a lack of environmental sustainability are ideas encountered in a history book, not the newspaper. No one will ever have to ask, do they know its Christmas?