Today is international Blog Action Day! This year's topic is POVERTY! Blah ick YUCK! So here goes some serious blogging:
When one thinks of poverty what comes to mind? A homeless man begging for change on the street? Maybe the more compassionate mind brings an image of a foreign child swatting flies away from her ragged clothes. While both of these images may be an accurate portrayal of poverty it isn't the full picture.
PovertyNet says it best, "Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom." Poverty is a loss of dignity and the loss of motivation to pursue your true desires, because one's basic needs cannot be met.
Poverty is a lot more serious and far reaching than we in the Western middle class world may ever understand. According to the United Nations, one person every three and a half seconds, dies of poverty related illness. It is children who die most often. Think back to a time when you were the hungriest you've ever been. Reach into your brain and recover that feeling that takes a hold of your stomach when you've merely skipped a meal. It's hard to think about anything else when your stomach is constantly rumbling. Now imagine that feeling of hunger as a way of life. Imagine that wrenching in your stomach always there constantly reminding you of what you don't have, and may not get for a long time. Could you live like that without turning to theft or just giving up? Many of us couldn't, but millions are faced with those options every single day.
The thing with poverty is that it doesn't have to exist. Studies have proven that there is plenty of food and water to go around. If everyone shared a fraction of their resources no one would go hungry, everyone would have shelter, and not one single child would die of hunger or hunger related illness.
As a global culture we need to create ways of meeting our individual needs that simultaneously provide for the needs of others. Otherwise, every time we take care of our own needs, we simply reinforce the system of scarcity that makes others suffer,and it is in no one’s best interest that we live in a world of misery.
What can you do to end poverty? Well, a whole lot. First off arm yourself with a realistic picture of where poverty is, and why it exists. Do you think the United States is free of this burden? Think again. You can help at home or abroad. If you don't have dollars to donate change the way you live your life. Consume less so others can consume more. Give your leftovers to the mother and daughter begging for change on the EL. Employ underemployed or at-risk workers. Micro-finance a loan for the working poor (as little as $50 to microfinance). Demand that your local government enact programs that break the cycle of poverty that exists in your school and prison system. Participate at a food shelter or food not bombs program. Get creative, you want to be in charge? Create your own group or plan a fundraiser to give money directly to the people who need it!
Here are a few websites to get you started:
Analysis of Poverty in our day and time
Wikipedia on Poverty
Spotlight on Poverty: What the current presidential candidates have to say about this issue.
Food Not Bombs Movement
Heifer International: Ending Hunger, Caring for the Earth
Microfinancing: Small person to person loans that save lives and alleviate poverty. This idea is relatively new and majorly cool! Microplace.com and Kiva.com
Also, Happy Birthday to Rahmon and Juan whoop whoop