And I would’ve gotten away with it too, if it hadn’t been for you pesky kids!

I was puzzled recently by this supposedly shortened headline on the main CNN health page:  Virus in China kills 28 children in China.  Well.  Thanks for the redundancy there.  I thought the virus in China only killed kids in Hong Kong.  Or maybe Taiwan.  Or maybe all the kids who get sick are shipped to Japan as part of an international disease exchange program.  Thank God the actual headline of the article was non-repetitive.  But it brings up a familiar question: how much information do we think we need?  And, in association, is this determination of our knowledge needs valid?

In a world where information and records are increasingly transparent, a large body of information is available to the public.  For those willing to search for it, you can find and learn about just about anything.  And yet, specialization runs rampant.  College admissions boards are seeing more and more applicants focused in one area of expertise.  Schools are focusing less and less on a broad-ranging liberal arts curriculum.  And yet in the working world, people are changing jobs and even careers more and more frequently.

What does this say for my own education and skill set?  How do I choose what might be most advantageous?  True, most skills are applicable across a wide range of jobs, but how do I determine even which job is applicable to my interests?  And how much can such generalism really help my life and growth?  How does education translate into skills and experience, and at what point does the body of knowledge I possess become useless junk that I cannot apply to my present life?  Does the thirst for knowledge still have validity, if the possession of that knowledge can easily be recreated by a simple internet search?

Where’s Burma?

Not long ago, the U.S. was outraged about the lack of aid  and quick relief to one of the more vibrant regions of our country.  I’m talking, of course, about Katrina and New Orleans.  Rebuilding is still going on there, and though the eager life of the city is revitalizing itself, there is till work to be done.  Of course, one of the things that made the area unique was its diverse and strong community, which remains, despite natural disaster.  What happens when such a disaster strikes and area that is not so visible, that is not so well known, or that is already recovering from previous injury or adapting to increasing need?

We have one example in Myanmar, where the strong arm of the military junta has oppressed various groups of people (such as the Karen) and regions for decades.  Now that oppression has been exacerbated by tornadoes in the delta region, killing tens of thousands and causing flooding, bridge damage, and crop loss.  People are being left to rot on the ground, as fuel is limited – the living need everything they can get to survive.  What’s more, due to the junta’s fear of international criticism, they aren’t allowing any aid workers or volunteers into the country.  They have only let one plane bearing food in, though arrangements are being made for others.  Worse, as flooding continues, even aid within the country is having a hard time reaching those in need.

While the international community has been very outspoken against the actions of the junta, now could be the perfect opportunity for reconciliation.  Let’s help people.  Let’s help people, regardless of what country they’re in, or who they’re governed by, or how.  Let’s make a start at differentiating between control and genocide, between political expediency and political necessity.  Let’s at least try and move ina  different direction.