When I was growing up in the 80's, we collected pennies for the starving children in Ethiopia. There were a whole genre of silly one-liner jokes about skinny Ethiopians. Yeah, Starving people. Hahahhaha. It became a discipline tool used liberally by my parents, which yielded much material in therapy when I was in my teens. Anyway.
As a parent, I've not hesitated to use the news of the world as a discipline maneuver. "you know, HONEY, there are children in the world who have NO TOYS." I say, when one gets upset that the other has a toy she wants (or NEEEEEEDS. whatever.) Usually, I reference China. or Darfur.
But lately I've been coming back to the needy people of my childhood: Ethiopians. Don't want your dinner? "well, should I sent it to the starving Ethioipians?" now I understand why my parents couched things the way way they did. It WORKS. They eat their dinner when I rattle on about who I could sent it to.
And god forbid in a few years that my children have the gall to say "life's not FAAAIIIIRRRR" when I dare to ground them for doing something idiotic. I'll show them something UNFAIR. Their punishment won't be staying in their suburban bedrooms with their computer and cell phone, their lesson will be learned in soup kitchens and womens' shelters. Their lessons will be learned in the real world, where they will learn that their lot is WAY MORE than FAIR.
Let's face it: my children are being raised in a privileged atmosphere. I may not be formally educated, but I am white and intelligent and I come from people who are intelligent educated and prosperous. I can do anything I want, my kids can have anything they want. In comparison to most of the world's population, my children have a golden ticket. I hope I can impress on them the weight of that privilege, and their debt to the rest of the world. I hope I impress on them their responsibility.