25,000 CHILDREN DIE EACH DAY FROM EXTREME POVERTY…THEY DON’T HAVE TO.
In developing countries, children die out of our sight. We are vaguely aware that it is happening, but it is not something we have to personally deal with. The world conveniently looks away because the media refuses to cover the story. But what if 25,000 children needlessly died everyday of the year in the western world? Would we ignore it? Would we go about our business and pretend that it wasn’t occurring? Would we consistently refuse to lift one finger to save those innocent lives?
Over the course of a year 9,125,000 children die from the effects of extreme poverty. If that many children were dying in the West it would be the biggest news story imaginable. Every politician’s job would be in danger if they could not immediately begin to bring the death rate down. Corporations would be under tremendous pressure to commit at least a fraction of their enormous profits to help society battle the atrocity. The medical community would be forced to deliver care whether families with dying children could afford to pay or not. In short, it would cause us to act the way we should.
Children in extreme poverty die from starvation and hunger related causes. They die from treatable illnesses. They die from preventable diseases. They die from our neglect. The grim truth is that the vast majority of these deaths do not have to occur. With a concentrated effort on our part we could save countless lives. We could stop the unnecessary suffering that afflicts so many. We could interrupt the cycle of despair that mothers and fathers are forced to endure as they bury their small children.
Sadly, each year 6,700,000 people of all ages die from cancer around the world. That is 18,355 people each day. That compares to 18,000 children each day who die just from hunger issues. Cancer is considered the plague of our lifetime and yet we kill more people, including helpless children, just by ignoring them. Each year 10,950,000 human beings die from extreme poverty. That is 4,250,000 more than die from cancer. A child’s death is horrific whether it is from cancer or hunger, but only one gets the public’s attention and therefore the funding. Unfortunately, at this time pediatric cancer cannot be totally prevented – starvation can.
Children are vulnerable and dependent. We have an obligation to take care of them no matter what their economic status or where they might live. National boundaries should not be enforced when children are dying. Ethnicity is meaningless, religious differences are pointless, political divisions must be ignored. Saving the life of a child takes priority over every other consideration. Nothing should stop the free flow of aid into areas where children are at risk.
We each have to look within ourselves and decide how we want the world to be. Are we willing to let more than nine million children die each year because we are too lazy, self-centered or greedy to stop it? We have the power to make the world into a much more compassionate and tolerant place, but it requires action – not just “hoping and wishing”. Taking action means making a commitment to hard work and being willing to make sacrifices. It means being relentless in our efforts to save the lives of children everywhere. It means getting out of our comfort zone of always putting ourselves first. It means not being afraid to take a stand even if you are alone in your convictions. It means being brave.
In the Western world we have built a society based on consumption and status. It thrives on material wealth and power. It glorifies the individual above all others. It is perfectly designed to let children in extreme poverty die without forcing us to feel regret or remorse. We insulate ourselves from the problems faced by the poorest one billion people on earth. Even though we are parents, we do not feel compelled to stand with the mothers and fathers in poverty who are watching helplessly as their children die at a heartbreaking rate from a lack of food, clean water and basic medical care – all of which we could help provide. Instead we obsess over our kids not getting enough playing time on the soccer team or the fact that ballet class conflicts with piano lessons. We worry that they will only get into a state college instead of a private university. We spoil them with material possessions instead of teaching them the value of giving to others…And all the while children die needlessly minute by minute – day by day and year by year.
Today 25,000 graves will be dug for children who have died as a result of our neglect. Each one of us has played our part in filling those graves. Each shovel full of dirt thrown into the face of a dead child is a pathetic reflection on our priorities in life. We have chosen and continue to choose to let these children die so that we may live the way we want, even though it is morally reprehensible.
HOW MANY MORE GRAVES WILL WE HELP DIG BEFORE WE COME TO OUR SENSES?