Why should a person be considered less than equal just because they are poor? They are human beings just like anyone else. They feel love and sorrow – joy and pain – hope and despair just like we do. They have husbands, wives, sons and daughters that they cherish. They want to live long healthy lives just like those of us in the West. They crave the opportunity for prosperity. They create art, compose music, and write poetry. They are complete and equal human beings in every way. And as such they should be treated just like the most important people in the West.

Belief in equality helps to break down the ideas of inferiority, hatred and mistrust. And in their place it develops feelings of love, care, and hope. Those three qualities are vital in the fight against extreme poverty. The acceptance of equality for all people everywhere allows us to have the proper mindset to begin to help lift them out of their constant suffering. It provides the desire to make life better for those we will never know. It makes the needs of others just as important as our own.

Embracing the idea of equality makes us better people. It gives us a world view based on acceptance and compassion. It allows everyone to live with dignity no matter what their circumstances. However, believing that inequality is tolerable tears at the very fabric of human society. It gives us an excuse to treat people with disrespect. It makes their suffering invisible to us. It leads us on a downward spiral until we actually begin to believe that some lives are not worth as much as ours. Believing that inequality is a valid point of view provides an excuse to take advantage of others. Those who have plenty tend to take from those who have little. The weak and the downtrodden make the easiest victims since they have no way to protect themselves. It is a consistent pattern of those with power harming those without power.

People with wealth and privilege have no more right to good health and happiness than the poorest child who sleeps in the dirt and aches from constant hunger. A child’s life has equal value no matter where they are born. We have to take this view or we diminish ourselves as well as those we look down on. Greater importance cannot be given to a child just because they had the good fortune to be born into a wealthy nation as opposed to the child who begins life in country filled with poverty. Neither child had anything to do with where they were born and yet, as it stands now, their origin of birth plays a tremendous role in determining their future. That is not right.  It is not fair. It places the child born into poverty at an insurmountable disadvantage through no fault of their own. But if we can learn to place equal value on children everywhere, we can begin to treat all people with the respect and dignity they deserve.

Once we embrace the idea that people everywhere are completely equal, we begin to stand up for their rights. We begin to protect them from harm. We offer them aid. Viewing those struggling in extreme poverty as equal human beings, who deserve all the rights and freedom that we enjoy, makes it inconceivable that we could let them die needlessly. It makes it impossible for us to look away as their children suffer. We see them not as statistics but as “people” who deserve the opportunity to live and thrive just as we do.

Believing in equality makes us more human. It creates in us the desire to reach out to everyone no matter what their station in life. It makes us want to take action immediately, and not wait. We begin to view the suffering of others as something that can’t be tolerated. We begin to accept responsibility for the problems of others no matter where in the world they might live.

The acceptance of equality is a necessary precursor to any real attempt at stamping out extreme poverty. Real change in the lives of those who are dying needlessly will not come until ALL human life is valued and respected. Those of us who believe in equality for all people have to take a stand for what we know is right and what we know is the truth.




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