Madonna is being villified for seeking to adopt an orphaned Malawi child. Here, from the Chicago Tribune, is a typical article, which disparagingly concludes:

“When the public tires of Madonna's latest exploit and the media moves on to something else, little will have changed for Malawi and the million orphans she left behind.”

To which I say, elephant poop!

It seems to me that the operative words in the Tribune reporter's conclusion are these: “When the public tires …” and “the media move on.” Isn't it rather disingenuous to somehow blame on Madonna the fact that the public and the media have the attention span of a gnat? If the U.S. media addressed the issues of human suffering in poor countries as rabidly as they cover homicides in America, maybe they'd inspire some real consciousness, interest in relevant public policies, and individual generosity.

Consider for a moment some of the reasons someone might decide NOT to give a damn about human misery in Africa:

    • Duh, Malawi … is that outside of Cleveland?
    • My puny contribution can't possibly make a difference given the magnitude of the problems.
    • Money has been “thrown” at Africa for decades, and the problems persist … they must be insoluble.
    • Governments in Africa are corrupt, violence prone and incompetent, they stand in the way of solutions, so why waste my money?
    • We have enough problems to tackle in our own backyard.

Given the prevalence of notions like these, it's astonishing that anyone gives a hoot or contributes anything to trying to improve the human condition in Africa.

So along comes Madonna. She decides to adopt one child. That's already more than what 99.9% of us are doing. Would we feel better if she anonymously sent $30 a month to Save The Children? My daughter Claire does that, and I think it's great. But I'm not displeased that Madonna can and does do more, and, of course, does it more visibly.

And, oh, by the way, she's also founded and committed to raising millions of dollars for the Raising Malawi charity to help Malawi's orphans.

Like she needs to do this to advance her career. Give me a break!

If it takes Madonna baring her breasts in Trafalgar Square to bring attention to the plight of millions of suffering human beings, then I'm all for it.

Commenting on what she calls “the Bono effect,” Heather Paul, CEO of Children's Villages-USA, which provides care for thousands of orphaned children in Malawi, says:

“We don't know what [their] intentions are, but we know that the orphans are in need. If through their actions they give us all cause to pause to see what each of us is doing to make the world a better place, if that thinking becomes a trend, that is wonderful.”


Madonna, as far as I'm concerned, your concern and involvement is every bit as welcome as that of Claire Belford, Heather Paul, Bill Gates and, yes, Brad and Angelina. In fact, you deserve a raise.

I just hope that the knowledgable practitioners in the field, whether locals or outsiders, don't squander the precious visibility you bring to their cause.

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