What Would You Do with $1,738 Billion?


White Doves at Blue Mosque

Is there any violence that is not senseless?

Last week’s massacre brought to the surface — as senseless violence will — the ongoing discussion on gun control. Another tragic massacre occurred and the fact that easy availability of guns played into this is unquestionable, it is unarguable. Only a few days past the shooting deaths, I listened to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now interviewing past massacre victims or their surviving relatives who now actively work for more gun control. Guns seem to arouse people’s convictions on both sides of the issue. That there are countries that do not even use guns, even in law enforcement, is another reality far from the land of America. Unfortunately, it is a concept that only some of us get in America.

One of the people who Amy interviewed was a young man who escaped and, thus, just missed the second round of gun fire in the Denver Theater shootings. Omar Esparza expressed a complexity in response to the shooting, “I don’t think that there really is much coping except trying to parse out what exactly happened, what are the many factors that played into this shooting, not just gun control laws but also corruption in the pharmaceutical industry, the neurological factors that went behind James Holmes’ thinking — just all the multiplicity of things that went into this sort of event.”

One considers that it is insane to try to maim or kill – simply insane and not at all lawful.

Or, rather, not lawful in that case.

Two bullets per person: the trillion dollar military spending club 

Kumi Naidoo, points out, in his blog post linked above, what is sanctioned and considered sane by some.

“$1,738bn is how much was spent on as the world’s military last year, according to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Institute (SIPRI).”

Naidoo asks us, “What would you do with $1,738 billion (US dollars)? If you were told you had to spend it this year on making people safer, what would you spend it on?”

Naidoo poses the question, “With expenditure on military being one of the few areas not facing massive government cut backs we should ask: is our world becoming a safer place?….

925 m people do not have enough to eat, 98% of whom live in developing countries? What peace does it bring them?”

Reading his blog on Greenpeace inspired me to question how much others are spending and to consider who was spending what if we were spending that much – check out SIPRI. Yes, we are the big spenders. Not something I want to be part of. It is shocking to see how little the countries we are invading spend on bullets and ammunition. One really has to wonder, even if they have wondered before — what is this really about? Who are these bullets for?

What would you do with $1,738 billion?

My first thoughts go to feeding the starving, housing homeless children, and creating a sense of purposeful work for the homeless families of our time in sustainable energy-renewing industries. As well as providing them shelter, I would use money to create avenues of work for the jobless community. Think of even one billion for seeds, water, earth, better bike paths, more bike shares; in the same breath, I think of creating more energy-saving currents in society. Bullets would not even enter my mind.

According this information from SIPRI, Naidoo provides more insight: “This year two bullets are being produced for every person in the world. A lot of money is being spent on preparing for war, how much is being spent on preventing it? How much is being spent on mitigating the risks of climate change? Very little by comparison and nowhere near enough…. An extraordinary amount of money, imagination and human ingenuity goes into preparing for and fighting wars. Just imagine what could be achieved if the same energy, imagination and ingenuity was invested in peace, a green peace.”

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