“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing.” ~John Berger
compared to those that live in poverty, the average north american lives a life of abundance, indulgence and comfort. even our lower middle class looks incredibly wealthy compared to the 1.2 billion people around the world that live on less than one dollar per day, almost 3 billion on less than two dollars per day and a billion more live their lives on two to four dollars. do the math. thats more than half of the population that lives in poverty. 11 million children die everyday before reaching their 5th birthday..
what comes to your mind when you think of this? pity? sympathy? sadness? anything…? does it not seem ridiculous that billions of our global neighbours are living in poverty especially when we have ample wealth, knowledge, technology and resources to help? we have the ability to help the 2.5 million kids each year that die from malaria. people, malaria medicine is cheap! for the same price as your speciality coffee at starbucks or the burger at your nearest fast food joint you can buy malaria medicine for a child in afria that would save their life. thats no exaggeration. its that cheap to save someones life. four dollars.
why dont we act? why dont we make a difference?
a parable by henry nouwen might give us some insight..
once there was a people who surveyed the resources of the world and said to each other: “how can we be sure that we will have enough in hard times? we want to survive whatever happens. let us start collecting food, materials, and knowledge so that we are safe and secure when a crisis occurs.” so they started hoarding, so much and so eagerly that other peoples protested and said: “you have much more than you need, while we dont have enough to survive. give us part of your wealth.” but the fearful hoarders said: “no, no, we need to keep this in case of an emergency, in case things go bd for us,too, in case our lives are threatened.” but the others said: “we are dying now, please give us food an materials and knowledge to survive. we cant wait.. we need it now!”
then the fearful hoarders became even more fearful since they became afraid that the poor and hungry would attack them. so they said to one another: ” let us build walls around our wealthso that no stranger can take it from us.” they started erecting walls so high that they could not even see anymore whether there were enemies outside their walls or not! as their fear increased they told each other: our enemies have become so numerous that they may be able to tear down our walls. out walls are not strong enough to keep them away. we need to put bombs on top of the walls so that nobody will dare to even come close to us.” but instead of feeling safe and secure behind their armed walls they found themselves trapped in the prison they have bult wit their own fear. they even became afraid of their own bombs, wondering if they might harm themselves more than their enemy. and gradually they realized their fear of death had brought them closer to it.
i think this parable describes us well. we spend most of our time protecting what we already have or attempting to get more. we’ve become so obsessed with the ‘never enough’ mentality that we the cant see the forest from the trees – translation: we’re so focused on the details (the petty materialistic things of our lives) that we cant see the overall big picture. we’re so focused on “me, me, me!” that we forget sometimes that there is a “we” as well. we have global neighbors that need our help to survive. they’re not asking for our fancy cars and ipods. theyre pleading with us for food, water, education and medical attention.
the part about poverty that really ticks me off: its preventable!!
when will we be moved to help?
i dare you not to be moved by this.