Thursday, March 29, 2012

Salt Lakes City Creek Center Opens

Salt Lake's City Creek Center has recently opened. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been criticized by some for using investment income and not tithing to further invest, restore and revitalize the failing mall across the street from the church's world headquarters and temple. Many people think any money invested in the immediate neighborhood of downtown Salt Lake City could be better spent helping the starving in Africa. Thinking about the issue of starving in Africa vs the City Creek Center, I realized something important.

I used to work in the old Crossroads and ZCMI malls. The place was a serious dump and a serious seismic hazard. These malls were seriously falling apart and could not be saved. No amount of whitewashing could have saved the many structural problems with Crossroads Mall. If you havnt worked there, then you have no idea.

The LDS Church has rescued Salt Lake City yet again. Just consider the alternative. Crossroads mall was about to close, Anchor store Nordstrom was about to jump ship, and the entire mall area was going to just get closed down and condemned. The Temple would be left with a run down, unkept, delapidated neighbor.

Now look what the LDS Church has helped to bring about. Instead of a dead downtown, the downtown area has been revitalized and transformed into a prosperous and beautiful environment.

We have a responsibility to help our families first, and neighbors second. People posting pics of starving Africans have no idea the political and tribal reasons for the suffering.

Giving money to the poor doesn't help the poor. Most US money and NGO resources end up being hoarded by warlords and corrupt politicians and never trickle down to the people intended.

Many people criticize the LDS Church for bailing out Salt Lake City from the disaster of a failing Crossroads Mall. These people think the money would be better spent sending it to save the starving in Ethiopia. What the critics don't know is the political and tribal issues that is leading to the starvation.

If you have ever taken a public health course, you would learn the issue with starvation in Africa is not one of scarcity of resources, but the problem of tribalism and corruption. Truth is there are very fertile lands in Ethiopia next to very barren land. Unfortunately, if you are a member of the wrong tribe, you are cast out and have to eak out a subsistence in the barren land. Furthermore, when government and NGO assistance arrives, it is usually hoarded by corrupt politicians and warlords and tribal chieftains and doesn't make it to the people who need it.

In fact, much of the abject starvation we see in pictures is real but set up as propaganda. Groups will starve out a tribe, take pictures of starving children, and then guilt the west into sending them millions which never ends up going to the people in the picture.

The reality is that the LDS Church's example of helping out and rescuing their neighbor is exactly the example and message that would save the starving in Africa.

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