Countdown to World Malaria Day, April 25: failure to imagine or failure to care?

One of the insights at Share Our Strength that has fueled our growth is that most failures are failures of imagination, more so than the excuses we tend to latch onto regarding failures of financial support or planning or execution. Indeed this is a central point of my new book The Imaginations of Unreasonable Men which is about those who have made the leap to embrace the possibility of not just treating malaria but eradicating it.

In the Washington Post last week, Michael Gerson who worked in the White House for President George W. Bush writes compelling about a different kind of failure of imagination – the failure to imagine the very real life or death consequences from budget decisions, like those reflected in the proposed cuts in global health programs that could lead to 70,000 African children dying from malaria and other preventable maladies.

As Gerson explains: Fiscal conservatives tend to justify these reductions as shared sacrifice. But not all sacrifices are shared equally. Some get a pay freeze. Some get a benefit adjustment. Others get a fever and a small coffin. This is not fiscal prudence. It is the prioritization of the most problematic spending cuts — a disproportionate emphasis on the least justifiable reductions. One can be a budget cutter and still take exception to cuts at the expense of the most vulnerable people on earth. In Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron is pursuing even greater austerity while increasing funding for development. The full column can be found at http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the_real_world_effects_of_budget_cuts/2011/04/06/AFpEFXxC_story.html?nav=emailpage

Moral imagination is supposed to be what differentiates us from other species. But our boast is bigger than our bite. We remain only partially evolved, a work in progress to be both admired and resisted. As proposed cuts in the most effective global health programs show, we are at times as Bruce Springsteen sings “halfway to heaven and just a mile outta hell.”

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