For those concerned about the way corruption hinders development in Africa, a hopeful story in the Wall Street Journal today (subscription required). Here’s one paragraph:
“Since taking charge of the new Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ribadu has pursued oil mobsters, Internet fraudsters and corrupt politicians. The former street cop has 185 active fraud and corruption cases working their way through the courts, up from zero before the commission started its work two years ago. Working in the capital of Abuja from an office overlooking goats grazing in a vacant lot, the wiry 44-year-old has locked up 200 alleged smugglers and seized $700 million in property, including a collection of office buildings, from suspects in oil smuggling and other crimes. Royal Dutch/Shell Group, whose joint venture with the state petroleum company pumps about half of Nigeria’s oil, says the amount of crude stolen from its network has fallen by almost half since early last year.”
Bob Woodson of National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise fame taught me a lot about strategic partnerships. In the interest of getting something important done for needy people, it’s ok to invite others with good contributions to make to join you, despite disagreements with them on other issues. Good advice. And on the 50th anniversary of Dr. Jonas Salk’s vaccine and Dr. Albert Sabin’s oral polio vaccine, Rotary International demonstrates an impressive strategic partnership with the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, partnering with the World Health Organization, U. S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Rotary is the world’s first volunteer service organization, tapping 1.2 million members in 166 countries when it launched a flagship PolioPlus program in 1985 to achieve a polio free world for all children. Polio cases were cut 99% by 2004, but there are six polio endemic countries including Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan and Egypt, and five countries where transmisison has been re-established in the Sudan, Central Aftican Republic, Cote d’Ivoire, Chad and Burkina Faso. Multiple volunteers have travelled safely into war-torn Sudan and Cote d’Ivoire to vaccinate children.
Contributions have been received from 528 or the 529 Rotary Districts and from 153 countries. Twenty thousand clubs have made contributions and eight districts have rasied more than $1 million each. Rotary contributions to the global project will exceed US$600 million. Rotary is to be commended for not looking at an overwhelming global issue and thinking “governments should fix this.”
Such is the admirable Soul of Civil Society.
136 Catholic schools were closed nationwide in 2004, even as the Catholic population in the United States has been rising. Kevin Schmiesing writes that “the economic bind that religious schools and their students increasingly find themselves in highlights an injustice at the heart of American education.”
When asked about the legacy of Pope John Paul II, Prof. Gregory R. Beabout responds “that the life and legacy of John Paul II is best understood in light of the history and culture of Poland.” The important distinctions between nation and state, culture and government, were operative both in Polish history as well as in the life of Karol Wojtyla.
Saul Bellow died last week at the age of 89. He wrote the novel that was most influential and deeply important in my life, Henderson the Rain King. In this book, Bellow engages the hollow atheism at the heart of the modern secular world. Beginning as a larger-than-life American millionaire in a society bereft of meaning, Eugene Henderson embarks on a spiritual journey to find purpose in his life. After many misadventures, Henderson finally arrives at a point where he “awaits the day of His coming,” and realizes that “there is nothing that runs unmingled” with the love of Creation.
This book is representative of Saul Bellow’s broader perspective: “I think a person finally emerges from all this nonsense when he becomes aware that his life has a much larger meaning he has been ignoring – a transcendent meaning. And that this life is, at its most serious, some kind of religious enterprise, not one that has to do with the hurly-burly of existence.”