Thinking about love and compassion

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 29 March 2017, 12:00AM

Everyday after we read the Village Voice section of this newspaper, these words immediately come to mind. 

Love, mercy and compassion.

We say this because isn’t it downright cruel that there are families living on the very edge of absolute poverty in this country today and yet our government just doesn’t seem to care? 

Isn’t it sad that as these families continue to struggle everyday to put food on the table and all they have to think about is finding their contribution to the next church obligation of some sort?

There is something awfully horrible about this picture.

Indeed, since last year, the Village Voice team has been making some eye-opening disclosures about the reality of life in Samoa. 

These are stories of ordinary every day people’s perennial struggle to cope with today’s crippling cost of living. 

They live in third world country like shelters. Some of them don’t have clean drinking water, no electricity, kids are not in school and the list of their struggles go on.

To be brutally honest, these stories should make us all feel ashamed of ourselves, especially to think that this is 2017 in Samoa, a country that has apparently graduated from the least developed country status with its leaders making loud noises wherever they are in the world about how wonderful Samoa is. 

The truth is that we are living in difficult times. In Samoa today, it’s undeniable that many families are unacceptably poor. Whereas the cost of living continues to skyrocket, their earning power has been severely reduced. For many of them, they simply don’t have any money. 

And no they are not lazy. They are not stupid either.

Many of these families have tried their hardest, they are burning their skulls in the hot sun, risking their lives in the ocean simply to get by. 

But they are finding the going tough. Extremely tough.

Now government officials on the other hand – especially certain Cabinet Ministers, Associate Ministers and senior public servants – don’t seem to be having that problem. 

Judging from their lavish living, lifestyles of entitlement, the government obviously doesn’t have a problem with money.

For some of them, they are simply enjoying the windfall of benefits and perks that come with their public offices. 

Some of them with private business interests seem to be doing exceptionally well. We see cases of conflicts of interest in this country so rife and yet some people just don’t care. They are so blatant it is daylight robbery.

The irony is that we don’t just see this in the government. There are similar instances in churches. It’s almost like the same system that is being used to run the government has been adopted by the church, which is heartbreaking.

We say the church should show love, mercy and compassion. And yet it doesn’t seem like it cares. Just like the attitude of the government.

Now what does that have to do with the poor people of this country and those families? Does this have any connection to wanton poverty and the yearning for help we see in the Village Voice everyday?

Of course it does. Remember this, when doing the right thing is ignored and corruption is allowed to fester, it hurts the most vulnerable members of the community. 

Yes corruption affects the poor directly since it increases the price for public services such as health, education and other basic utilities so that the poor – who are severely disadvantaged by the lack of economic growth – are unable to cope. Many of them just break down and cry – just like we see in the Village Voice everyday.

Let me repeat this, ladies and gentlemen, as long as our government, Members of Parliament – and the church to an extent - continue to deny the existence of corruption, more and more people will suffer.

Crime will keep on breeding crime and even more crime. It’s going to be a very sad future. That’s what we think anyway, what about you? 

Share your thoughts with us.

Have a wonderful Wednesday Samoa, God bless!

By Mata'afa Keni Lesa 29 March 2017, 12:00AM
Samoa Observer

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