EXTREME POVERTY IS AN INSIDIOUS FORM OF RACIAL INTOLERANCE.
It can be very subtle. It does not have to be outright bigotry or hatred. People often deny, even to themselves, that it exists. But the evidence of racial intolerance is in the color of those who are dying from extreme poverty. Sometimes it is demonstrated by having a feeling of superiority – a feeling that is not justified. Looking down on someone, or thinking less of someone, just because of their skin color is absolutely wrong. It has never been right, and it certainly has no place in today’s world. A five year old child deserves the right to food, water, shelter and medical care no matter what race they may happen to be. What makes the life of a child in one ethnic group any less valuable than the life of a child in another ethnic group? Both children can make enormous contributions throughout their respective lifetimes. They can both give love. They can both offer hope. They can both make a difference in other people’s lives. They can both improve the world in some way.
In the West we would never tolerate the deaths of 25,000 white children everyday. A yearly death toll of 9,125,000 white children would be prevented at all costs. Every medical advance, every new drug treatment, every type of vaccine and antibiotic would be used to stop the dying without regard to cost. And we certainly wouldn’t allow 6,570,000 white children to starve to death each year. It would not happen……But it is a fact that most of the children who die from extreme poverty are children of color. And they are not given the latest medical treatments, vaccines or antibiotics. They do not even have enough food, and so they die by the millions.
Those struggling in extreme poverty live under a death sentence – a sentence which has been passed, in part, because of their skin color. Did the five year old boy starving to death in the dirt choose the color of his skin? Did the nine year old orphan who lost her parents to HIV/AIDS choose the color of her skin? Did the mother and infant who died during childbirth without medical care choose the color of their skin? Did the man who had to bury his little girl after she died from malaria choose the color of his skin? These people are completely innocent human beings. They have done nothing wrong. They have have hurt no one. They have committed no crimes. And yet they pay the ultimate price for being born “the wrong color” in the “wrong part of the world”. It comes down to this: no child should be allowed to die because of where she was born, or because of how poor she is, or because of her gender, or because of the color of her skin. We have to accept that all human life has equal value and is worth saving and protecting.
On the surface there may appear to be enormous differences between societies and cultures, but in reality we are all the same. People everywhere need love. They want respect. They deserve dignity. It doesn’t matter if you are a wealthy white Anglo-Saxon Protestant working on Wall Street or the uneducated black parent of a starving child in Kenya, you are both human beings with the same emotions, intellect and desires. To deny this fact is completely irrational and dangerous. Skin color does not determine a person’s worth. The physical features of a human being are meaningless. They are the least important aspects of a person. How we think, what we believe, our attitudes, our compassion, those are the things that make us human.
Racial intolerance is an important factor in explaining why we do not prevent the deaths of 10,950,000 human beings each year. It has plagued mankind throughout history, and it has done nothing but cause misery and suffering for all involved. Our refusal to accept all people everywhere as part of the same human family has had disastrous results, and it continues to do so. We must learn to acknowledge everyone as equals. We cannot continue to judge people. We must reach out to those who are suffering, and do whatever we can to help them improve their lives. We have to see the worth of every individual regardless of race or economic class. The world has a difficult future ahead. We are going to need everyone’s effort to improve life on this planet. We cannot let masses of people die just because they seem different from us. The one billion human beings living in extreme poverty have every right to live in peace and good health. We have to become wiser and more compassionate. We have to think of others instead of just ourselves. We have to respect everyone’s right to live a decent life. We have to look within ourselves and admit the truth: the inequity of extreme poverty is our responsibility.
TO LET SOMEONE DIE BECAUSE THEY ARE NOT EXACTLY LIKE US IS THE ULTIMATE FORM OF DISCRIMINATION.