This is part II of a short series entitled, Fight Poverty. Here’s Part I – An Introduction and Part III – A Vision for Compassion and Redistribution.
The statistics you will read below paint a picture of a broken world. A very broken world. And you and I are a part of it. Every time I examine these figures, I sometimes just see numbers and forget that these are about people – like you and me, my children, your children, etc. And more often than not, I am simply overwhelmed because I don’t quite know what to do. While we may not be able to completely “fix” all of the world’s problems, we need to still do our part to be the solution…
This is not just a Christian issue. It is a humanity issue. It involves every single one of us. Each person has a God given right to live their lives as God intended for humanity. Anything short of that is simply, an injustice.
There are numerous books that are must reads if you are interested in the complexities of world poverty and injustice. One thing is clear: they are no easy solutions. However, most will agree that it is, nevertheless, within our human capacity to eradicate extreme poverty if governments, leaders, non-government organizations, and individuals worked together on the major issues [food, water, disease, education, etc.] that serve as barriers.
Governments must do their part in four major areas: debt cancellation, fair trade, decrease corruption, and increase aid to respective countries and regions around the world. Equally as important in my opinion, is the role of the individual. You and I should not be given a free pass. We need to be burdened by the realities of a very brutal and harsh world where so many are suffering and dying. We need to examine our lifestyles, choices, priorities, sense of compassion, amongst others.
As we seek to travel during our sabbatical this summer, Minhee and I intend to bring our children to couple of our destinations. We want them to know that the way that we live here in the United States isn’t really “normal.” We want them to see some of the suffering around the world. We want our kids’ heart to be broken as our hearts need to be broken.
Perhaps this is one of the root problems of humanity: our hearts have become hardened. When our hearts become hardened and desensitized, we become less human – thus allowing inhumane things to happen all around us. Does this make sense?
I’ve been attempting to digest the information below for some time… All these statistics are available with its sources on Global Issues. Any thoughts? Which ones shock you the most?
- Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day. Approximately a billion live on less than a dollar/day.
- The GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the poorest 48 nations (i.e. a quarter of the world’s countries) is less than the wealth of the world’s three richest people combined.
- Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
- Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 and yet it didn’t happen.
- 51 percent of the world’s 100 hundred wealthiest bodies are corporations.
- The wealthiest nation on Earth has the widest gap between rich and poor of any industrialized nation.
- The poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money.
- 20% of the population in the developed nations, consume 86% of the world’s goods.
- The top fifth of the world’s people in the richest countries enjoy 82% of the expanding export trade and 68% of foreign direct investment — the bottom fifth, barely more than 1%.
- In 1960, the 20% of the world’s people in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20% — in 1997, 74 times as much.
- The developing world now spends $13 on debt repayment for every $1 it receives in grants.
- A few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world’s poorest 2.5 billion people.
- “Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom reside in Asia and the Pacific.”
- According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death.” That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year.
- The richest 50 million people in Europe and North America have the same income as 2.7 billion poor people. “The slice of the cake taken by 1% is the same size as that handed to the poorest 57%.”
- A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water, and these 12 percent do not live in the Third World.
- Consider the global priorities in spending in 1998
- 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
- 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
- 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
- 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (same as children population in France, Germany, Greece and Italy)
- 1.4 million die each year from lack of access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation
- 2.2 million children die each year because they are not immunized
- 15 million children orphaned due to HIV/AIDS (similar to the total children population in Germany or United Kingdom)