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In the March 20 Japan Times we learn that “Afghan kids get candles discarded by temples” (headline). How generous! What next, discarded day-old bread? Slightly used clothing? Recycled manga? No, not for reading, but for fuel on cold winter nights.

A nation with the wealth that Japan enjoys could afford to send those kids boxes of new candles or, better yet, solar battery-powered lanterns that store up sunlight during the day so that they can be used at night. But then again, beggars can’t afford to be choosy and most of mankind lives the life of a beggar on pennies a day. Just hope the monks and priests sending the candles don’t waste a lot of money on fancy lamps, electronic goods and flat-screen TV sets for themselves.

I wonder if American churches will be sending leftovers from Sunday picnics to the children in Afghanistan? The two greatest economic powers in the world have done so much to bring ruin to Iraq and Afghanistan. What about sending warm clothing, medicine and water-purification machines? Small wonder the farmers in Afghanistan are once more planting poppy plants as a cash crop.

robert mckinney