“Feasting” Now and “Famining” Future

Words from Orakidorm —-  

Uab: The Giant Who Made Palau Islands” is a story retold by Ms. Faith G. Swords in a book titled Short Stories from Small Islands- Tales shared in Palau. The story is about human tragedy that was perpetuated by the community. In short, Uab ate himself to death (as an individual) but also exploited the resources of the day (people and food source) and from what we gathered died prematurely, perhaps from NCDs. The story is about individual issues that are quietly supported or allowed to happened by the community to continue until they become systemic or societal tragedies. But unlike, Faith’s ending of the story, Uab was said to have been “burned down” by the community out anger because they were “famining” while he was “feasting”. 

In Genesis 41, Joseph interprets the Pharaoh’s dreams, “seven years of plenty and seven years of famine and counseled the Pharaoh to store food during the years of plenty so that he could help the people during the time of famine.” Imbedded in this story are also lessons surrounding prudent leadership and long sightedness.

The contrasts between the Uab and Pharaoh’s stories are not only evident, but give warnings for us in Palau during these Compact years. The early years of the Compact of Free Association, we consumed a whole lot of resources. Some of the resources went to build basketball courts, men’s meeting houses (bai), create an inflated government and erecting soft infrastructures (non revenue generating). As the Compact Funding is dwindling down, we are continuing to feast without the forethought of saving for years of famine.

Recent estimates showed that our infrastructures are worth more than a Billion US Dollars, which requires a maintenance cost of over a 100 Million US Dollars  or at least 16 Million US Dollars per year of which we are not even budgeting for at this time. And as we speak, some of them are crumbling down. Information also shows that our leading causes of death are NCD related diseases and yet we continue to feast. We have no viable economic or social escrowing strategy for the future except for the Compact Trust Fund, which has performed marginally and far below what was projected initially. The political debate at this time of plenty is about what the feast is going to be like rather how to take care of the people when the time of famine arrives. The time of famine is beginning to arrive with global economic down turn, effects of climate changes and extreme weather, reduction of the Compact Fund, population emigration, remittance out and erosion of nationalism. With our national budget continue to increase, is this a prudent thing to do in the midst these signals that we ought to be giving thought to securing the future?

The philosophy of “Feasting Uab” is a shortsighted policy, which will only lead to national tragedy. But the forward thinking of the Pharaoh in heeding the warnings and securing the future is the way to take care of our “famining community”. Adopting a culture of prevention is the first step. “Feasting is a good short term political tool but prevention of wasting resources and escrowing for the future is an ethnic rescuing strategy. Where is Joseph now that we need him? There is so much dreaming in Palau, someone must interpret them before we all burn down.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: