TIME IS THE ENEMY OF CHILDREN IN EXTREME POVERTY.
Can you remember what you did 40 days ago? Most of us can’t. In just over a month we forget what we were so preoccupied with, what we were so worried about and what pressures we were under. Whatever seemed so important just 6 weeks ago cannot even be recalled. We have moved on. There are new challenges and obstacles to face. Because time flies by so rapidly it blurs our memory of what, at the moment, seemed like absolutely critical situations that required immediate decisions and forced us to make difficult choices. 40 days – comprised of 960 hours – is just the blink of an eye in a typical life span. It is a length of time that we don’t really focus on. We tend to view segments in weeks or months. But the reason that 40 days is important is because that is how long it takes for one million children to die from extreme poverty.
In this remarkably short interval of time one million families are devastated. Grieving mothers and fathers are forced to bury their beloved child who died, often before the age of five, from causes that could have been prevented or cured. This adds another level of misery and frustration to the already heartbreaking loss. To know that your child could have been saved if they had received proper nutrition, vaccines and medical attention is more than any parent should have to bear…but it is the reality that they are forced to deal with.
The world has collectively decided that we will tolerate the death of one million innocent children over this brief span of time. We do this quite happily. It doesn’t seem to bother us at all. As long as our children are healthy we are unconcerned about those struggling to stay alive in poverty. We feel little guilt about a million deaths. We are able to continue leading comfortable lives of privilege without a thought for those who are forced to bury 25,000 children each day. How can this be? How can we be so calloused? How can we be so blasé about such heartrending death? How can we be more than willing to let it continue?
To compress that much death into such a short amount of time makes it hard for us to truly grasp the magnitude of the tragedy. When we focus on numbers we tend to lose sight of the humanity involved. In this case we are talking about young helpless, defenseless children who are dying at a rate of more than 1,000 per hour. These are children just like yours. They love and laugh, they play and learn, they dream and hope. They want to grow up and accomplish things, they want to be important…but the wealthy countries of the world have decided they are not important. It has been determined that their lives are not worth saving. The decision has been made that they are not a priority.
So what do we feel is more important than saving the lives of one million children? KILLING PEOPLE. Over a 40 day period the United States spends about 75 billion dollars on defense. ($75,000,000,000) It is a number so staggering that it’s difficult to comprehend. The point is that we think nothing of funding the military to the point of overkill at the expense of the young lives that could be spared if we just cut back even a small percentage. We simply believe, as a nation, that it is more important to be able to kill on a massive scale than it is to save the lives of the innocent. It is a decision we make each time we vote. It is a decision we make when we profit from military contracts. It is a decision we make when we meekly accept the judgment of our political leadership to commit our men and women in our military to the ravages of war. We, as a society, find it far easier to spend our money and resources taking life rather than saving life.
Human beings are capable of complete extremes when it comes to how we value life. Over a 40 day period we will wage war and kill thousands but we will also try to rescue thousands in a natural disaster. We will execute inmates on death row and yet we will donate our organs so that someone else can live. We will have our pets euthanized so they will not suffer and at the same time we will try to deny people life saving surgery because they don’t have insurance. In America we will spend any amount of money and use every available technology to save the life of a premature infant but we will cheerfully let a child starve to death in the dirt on the other side of the world. It comes down to the fact that we will move heaven and earth to save our child, but we won’t lift a finger to save your child.
Allowing one million children to die during the next 40 days is an atrocity. We have the money to save those lives. We have the technology, the resources, the transportation, the medical skill, the food, the water and the knowledge necessary to prevent these deaths. What is lacking is the will, the determination and the desire to do it. We all share in the responsibility of taking care of the vulnerable. It is up to each of us to do what we can to improve the world. What better way is there to start making this life more meaningful than by saving the lives of innocent children?
Each of us has something to offer. We each have talents, abilities or financial resources that can make a dramatic difference in the lives of children everywhere. Use what you have. Determine the best way you can help and then do it. Don’t wait. Remember that more than 1,000 children die from extreme poverty while you watch your favorite hour-long TV show. One million die in the length of time you go between haircuts. It is shameful that in a world filled with everything we need to keep children safe and healthy we continue to refuse to use those tools to accomplish the simple goal of keeping them alive. To know that in just 40 days we will have let a million children needlessly die should make us feel sick, but chances are we will put that thought aside and continue to live in a vacuum that protects us from the harsh realities faced by one out of every six human beings on earth. We will buy the things we want and do the things we wish to do without consideration for the parents who will be digging graves for their dead babies.
Enjoy the next 6 weeks of your life, but just remember that as you play with your children at the park, eat out, go to the movies, attend recitals and take in a sporting event, parents in extreme poverty are watching their children endure the last 6 weeks of their lives. Their young sons and daughters are fighting for every breath. They are struggling against all odds without pain killers or antibiotics. Their small bodies are being racked by diseases that we eliminated decades ago. Over the next 40 days they will experience horrors that we cannot even imagine…and none of it has to happen. It can all be prevented. We just have to decide that we will no longer tolerate the heartbreaking deaths of a million dead children in less than 1,000 hours.
WILL YOU EVEN REMEMBER READING THIS 40 DAYS FROM NOW?