OUR RESPECT FOR EVERY PERSON MUST BEGIN AT THE FIRST MOMENT OF LIFE AND CONTINUE TO THE END OF THE HUMAN EXPERIENCE.
If you live in the Western world you are no doubt aware of the natural order that takes place in everyday life. You have seen the wonderful joy experienced over the birth of a child. You know that as she grows the child develops into a young adult who settles down and has her own family. The pattern of having children starts all over again as another generation comes into the world. The woman ages gracefully as she watches her children become parents themselves. In her later years she is a beloved grandparent, and at the end of 8 decades or so she peacefully leaves this world ending her part in the cycle of life. We should all be so fortunate.
This is the kind of gentle pattern we all imagine for ourselves. Each of us wants to live a long rewarding life. We want our families to grow and for our children to enjoy better lives than we had. We want them to experience the most important role in life; that of beings parents, and in return we want to spend our golden years loved and respected with our grandchildren. Many of us will be fortunate enough to follow this path. Thanks to the standard of living we enjoy, everything we need to live long healthy lives is readily available to us. Each generation can look forward to the next and feel confident that they will play an irreplaceable role in the lives of their family. It is a joy we should not take for granted.
But there are many places in the world where the cycle of life is shattered by poverty. Just having a baby can be a life and death issue, and having your child survive past the age of five is not assured. And, because in some areas the life expectancy is as low as 45 years of age, there is often no opportunity to become a grandparent and enjoy the next generation of your family. This unnecessary break with the natural order of things causes untold heartbreak and misery. When mothers die while giving birth, when children die before the age of five and when adults don’t live past their forties it is tragic on countless levels. Families are destroyed and children become orphans. There is no stability in the social order because the entire fabric of society is torn apart by untimely death.
To try to live in the constant shadow of pain and sorrow is an unrelenting pressure that drains the hope and joy out of any life, but it is even more pronounced when you are struggling to survive in poverty. When parents can’t afford to care for their children and they are forced to bury them as they die from needless hunger, preventable diseases and treatable illnesses it is too much. When a man is trapped in an area where he can expect to live about half as long as someone in the West it is morally wrong. When a woman faces a 1 in 16 lifetime risk of dying during childbirth it is a devastating gamble each time she gets pregnant. To simply try to survive in extreme poverty is to face death at every phase of your life.
Do we somehow believe that those in extreme poverty deserve any less of an opportunity to enjoy a long full life than we do? What makes us so special that we are entitled to live 7 or 8 decades while they are lucky to live 5? Why should our children be happy and healthy and entering school at the age of 6 when so many children in poverty are dead by the age of 5? Why should we be so fortunate to live out the end of our lives surrounded by our children and grandchildren? We have done nothing special in life to deserve these things. We just happened to be born in a part of the world where longevity is a given. In our world it is shocking when someone dies prematurely at the age of 45 or 50. In their world it is expected. In our world children don’t die from polio or measles. In their world they do. In our world a grandparent is a source of love and knowledge. In their world a grandparent is never known.
At best a “lifetime” is but a brief moment in eternity. We flicker into existence and then we are gone, immediately replaced by another generation who suffers the same fate. Fortunately, because of rapid medical and scientific advances our lives are being extended, however compared to the eons of history, we are alive for just a heartbeat. That is why it is so important to make the best use of the limited amount of time we have available to us. While we waste time, others are fighting for their very lives. When we think nothing of kicking back and taking it easy for a few days others are desperately trying to save the lives of their children. When we retire and enjoy spending time with multiple generations of our families they are digging graves for the millions who die prematurely.
There is a normal cycle of life that we all witness every day. When that natural order is destroyed by poverty it is a crime against humanity. It is an atrocity that we must correct as quickly as possible to prevent as many futures deaths as we can. We do not have the right to stand by in silence and watch millions of human beings die prematurely each year when we have the means to prevent it from happening. We have a responsibility to take care of each other. We have an obligation to protect life at every stage of development, just as we would want someone to do for us. We cannot let innocent children die before they even have a chance at life. Every human being on earth wants the same thing. They want to live a long healthy life with their families by their side. That is the right of every human being. That is the natural order. That is the cycle of life.
WE ARE ONE HUMANITY. EVERY PERSON THAT IS STRUGGLING IN EXTREME POVERTY IS OUR RESPONSIBILITY.