ONE CHILD’S DEATH

 

DOES IT MATTER HOW A CHILD DIES?

You are driving alone down a city street. It is a nice day and you are in no particular hurry. You are observing the speed limit of 40 miles per hour and you are paying full attention to your driving. Your cell phone is turned off, and for once you don’t have the stereo on. Suddenly you notice something out of the corner of your eye. From the right side of the street a small child darts out in front of you. In a split second you slam on the brakes with all your strength. You yank the wheel as hard as you can to the left, but it is too late. You hear and feel the sickening impact as your vehicle strikes the little boy.

The force of the impact hurls his body over 15 feet. He hits the pavement and rolls several times and then lies motionless. Your car has come to a stop but you can’t let go of the wheel. You can’t breathe and you feel sick at your stomach. You realize you are shaking violently, but you can’t bring yourself to open the door. Slowly you become aware of other people. Some have cell phones and are obviously calling 911, others rush to the child. They crowd around his body so your view is blocked. You feel tears rolling down your cheeks and you blink to try and hold them back but you can’t. You hear someone yell that the boy is not breathing. You watch in absolute horror as people move back to make room for a woman who begins to perform CPR.

You open your car door and step out, but your knees buckle and you collapse to the pavement. You are softly crying and you begin to pray as other people run over to you. A lady leans down and tells you that it wasn’t your fault. The child came out of nowhere, and there was no way you could miss him. Her words are meaningless. A person kneeling near the child calls out that the boy is not responding. You begin to sob. How could this be happening? You were doing everything you were supposed to do. You were being safe. You were following the rules. That child should not be lying in the street without a heartbeat.

Off in the distance you begin to hear the sirens. Help is on the way but you know it’s too late. Within minutes a police officer is by your side, and paramedics have taken over the life saving efforts on the little boy. Everything is a blur, you can’t clear your mind and focus. The officer is asking you questions but you can only think about the child. Time is suspended. You begin to realize that by taking this human life you have also destroyed your own life. Nothing will ever be the same. This day on the calendar will bring recurring pain for the rest of your life.

Months later you are still dealing with the horror of that day. It is difficult to sleep and when you do, you dream of the impact over and over again. Friends and family don’t know how to help you. Everyone has tried to point out that you are a good person, and that it wasn’t your fault. It was just “one of those things” that unfortunately happens in life, but their words ring hollow and bring no comfort. Being a good person doesn’t enter into the fact that you inadvertently took the life of an innocent child. The little boy is dead. His family lives in despair. Your life is filled with misery. You will never again be the person that you were.

How much money would you give to bring back that child’s life?

How much would you pay to go back in time and relive that day so that you could take a different route and this tragedy would not have occurred? What would you pay to avoid killing that child?…Would that little boy’s life be worth 25 cents to you? That is how much it cost to feed a meal to a child in extreme poverty. For a quarter you can feed a child a meal that will keep them alive. For $7.50 you can feed a meal to that child every day for a month and by doing so you can save their life.

It may seem inappropriate to put a price on human life but it is necessary in this case to demonstrate what a significant difference a small amount of money can make. Most people would spend every dollar they have in the world to bring back a child they accidentally killed with their car, but those same decent people won’t spend a quarter to save the life of a starving child. It is two totally different reactions to the same result; the death of an innocent human being.

Whether we accidentally kill a child near our house or a child starves to death out of our sight on the other side of the world they are both just as dead. Whether we strike the child with our car or let them starve from our neglect, we play a role in both deaths. The world’s children, no matter where they may live, depend on adults to take care of them, and it is our responsibility to do so. Is a particular child’s life more valuable than another’s? Aren’t the lives of all children everywhere precious? How can we make the distinction that unless we are directly involved, the child’s life doesn’t matter?

We would never be negligent to the point where we would harm a child while driving and yet every day we are negligent in feeding children, ensuring they have safe water, providing medical care for them and educating them. We feel no guilt over this. It has no effect on our lives. We still feel good about ourselves. 25,000 children die needlessly each day from extreme poverty, a total of 9,125,000 a year, and it doesn’t bother us at all. But if we were directly involved in the traffic related death of one child we would never recover. We must learn to place equal value on the lives of children everywhere. We must realize they all deserve our compassion and our help.

THE DEATH OF A CHILD IS A HEARTBREAKING TRAGEDY NO MATTER HOW OR WHERE IT OCCURS.

 

 

 

THE RESPONSIBILITY OF DEATH

DEATH DOESN’T JUST HAPPEN WITHOUT A REASON.

It is 11:45 on a Saturday night and you are sound asleep when the phone rings. You fumble around for the receiver, pick it up and mumble “hello”. The man’s voice on the line is very calm, but the words he says changes your life forever. A quick burst of adrenalin surges through your body as he states in an even voice that your 17-year-old daughter has been killed in a car accident. You are stunned and you feel like you can’t breath. You have gone from being groggy to more alert than you have ever been in your life. You begin to argue that it can’t be true, but he is certain. Her identification matches this address and phone number. The emotion of absolute heartbreak now comes flooding over you and you can barely speak. The state trooper is patient. He has, unfortunately, made this call many times. He explains that your daughter and her girlfriend were struck head on by a drunk driver. They were both dead before help could arrive. There is more explanation given and some phone numbers you are to call but it is just a blur. You can no longer focus on what is being said. Finally after expressing his deepest condolences the officer hangs up.   

As you begin to sob you simply cannot believe the horror is true. Only 4 or 5 hours ago you kissed her goodbye. You were going to spend the day together tomorrow. She was so beautiful and kind and intelligent. She had been making plans for her future and she wanted to be a force for change in the world. Everyone loved her and she had countless friends. She had her whole life ahead of her. For Christ’s sake she was only 17 years old. As the realization slowly sets in that this is not a nightmare but actual reality, you begin to give up. You collapse into absolutely paralyzing grief. A million questions fill your mind. How could this have happened? Who is responsible? Why did it have to be your daughter? What had your family done to deserve this?  

Months later, the days following the phone call will be difficult to remember. You know you managed to function somehow and to make the decisions that were necessary, but it is not clear how you were able to keep going through the overwhelming pain. You spent hours breaking the news to family members. You went to the mortuary and picked out her casket. You endured the funeral itself and then finally you said goodbye for the last time at the graveside. You can remember bending down and gently kissing her coffin and knowing with certainty that this was the end. She was gone forever and you would never see her again. From that moment on you were not the same person. No matter how long you live there will always be a part of you missing. You know that her birthday and holidays will bring fresh pain. You will watch her friends go on to college, get married and start families, and although happy for them, you will not be able to help feeling a certain amount of envy for all the things you and your daughter will miss. Until your final breath you will never understand why her life had to be taken.  

What must be realized is that with needless death there is responsibility. In this particular case there were many individuals who played a role in allowing this tragedy to occur. First and foremost was the person who tried to drive while under the influence of alcohol. That decision was not only stupid but also incredibly selfish because he not only put his life at risk but the lives of countless other innocent people. Also bearing responsibility are the friends he was with who did not prevent him from driving. They could have arranged for some other type of transportation, but they let him get behind the wheel knowing full well he was impaired. They did not want to offend him. Also at fault was the bartender that continued to serve him even after it was apparent he had consumed too many drinks. His desire for profit superseded any concern for the public’s safety. All of these individuals could have prevented needless death by taking action, but they refused. None of them had the courage or the conviction to step in and take responsibility for a situation that was out of control. Consequently two innocent young women were killed through no fault of their own. Their families were devastated and dozens of lives were adversely changed forever. 

This example demonstrates how needless death can occur in our lives. But for those in extreme poverty if happens in other ways. For instance, a child chronically suffers from malnutrition and eventually hunger overwhelms her immune system. She fights off illness after illness but each one leaves her weaker. Finally the hunger ravages her body to the point where she cannot recover and she dies…So, who or what is responsible for this little girl’s death? Is it drought? Is it famine? Is it spiraling food prices? Is it just an act of God – or is it you and I? You may wonder how you could possibly have anything to do with the death of a little girl from hunger when she is thousands of miles away. After all, you would never knowingly harm an innocent child. You love children. However, because those of us who live in comfort in the West have the ability to feed those who are hungry, we have a responsibility to take action…but we choose not to. Why?  

We are all part of the same human family. We are all responsible for each other. Every life is important and each life has equal value. When a needless death occurs anywhere in the world there is responsibility shared by those of us who could have prevented it. The fact that you don’t want that kind of responsibility on your shoulders doesn’t matter. You carry the burden whether you want it or not. Just like the individuals who had the knowledge that a man was going to drive under the influence you know that a child is going to die from hunger. Just as they had a responsibility to take his car keys to prevent a tragedy you are under the same obligation to feed a child. In both cases a death can be prevented by another person if they are only willing to get involved instead of just turning away. Each day you have multiple opportunities to save human life. It is your responsibility to do what you can to prevent death and suffering among those who are depending on you for help. To do otherwise makes each of us an accomplice to tragedy.  

ANYTIME AN INNOCENT PERSON DIES BECAUSE OF THE NEGLECT OF SOMEONE ELSE, IT IS MORALLY WRONG.

WE ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR OTHERS.

WHY DO WE KILL?

KILLING COMES VERY EASY TO THE HUMAN RACE.

In fact it comes too easy. It has become ingrained in our minds down through history that killing is not only acceptable but also necessary. Taking life is something we are willing to tolerate if we believe it is beneficial to our own lives. How did we get to this point? Why are we so blasé about ending life? Why are we numb to the news that someone with a gun has gone on a rampage and killed a dozen people? Why do we ignore the smuggled information that a country has executed hundreds of dissidents? Why do we passively accept the deaths of 30,000 human beings each day from extreme poverty?

Killing is an accepted part of our society. In fact, some people actually kill for a living. For example, we pay exterminators and veterinarians to end various forms of life. Whether it’s to eliminate unwanted rodents or to put your beloved cat out of its suffering we are more than willing to have someone else do our killing for us. People employed in the food chain have the grim job of taking life. They slaughter cattle, pigs, chickens and turkeys so that we can engage in the unhealthy habit of eating animal flesh. These animals don’t have to end up as our food. We can live a long healthy life with a vegetarian diet, but we decide to consume living creatures all the same because we enjoy the taste. They die so we can be momentarily happy.

Of course some of us enjoy killing animals ourselves. We go hunting and spend a significant amount of time and money in the effort to kill defenseless animals. Why do we do this?…It must be because we enjoy the thrill of killing. Yes, the animal can be consumed, but it’s not necessary to preserve our life that we take their life. It is a willing decision on our part to kill for our own selfish satisfaction. Obviously, there was a time when killing for food was an absolute necessity for the survival of the human race, but that is no longer the case. Now we kill for the pure joy and excitement of it.

It is quite remarkable how we determine exactly which creatures we should feel guilty about killing. The same person who goes out and shoots a deer without remorse will feel terrible if he hits a dog with his truck on the way home. What’s the difference? They were both living creatures. They both had an awareness of life. They could both create more life. Is it because we planned to kill one but the other was an accident? Should we only feel guilt when we kill something without planning its death ahead of time? Perhaps if we know we are going to kill in advance it make it easier to commit the act.

We know that one million human beings are going to die in the next 34 days from extreme poverty. That is an absolute fact. Does that make it easier for us to allow it to happen? Yes it does…because if one million people died in an earthquake in that same time span the entire world would be rushing to help. However, in the case of a million poverty deaths virtually nothing will be done, and those deaths will happen again in the next 34 days and again in the next.

How death occurs also seems to play an important role in how we react to it. Sudden violent death grabs our attention and provokes an immediate response out of our sorrow for those who have lost their lives – while slow relentless grinding death, even on a huge scale, doesn’t seem to bother us at all. We happily continue on with our lives without giving a thought to the tens of thousands who die each day from hunger, illness and disease. The irony is that we feel sincere remorse for the deaths of those who die in ways that cannot be prevented such as earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis. On the other hand, we feel nothing for the victims of extreme poverty, a killer that could be prevented – if we would only make the effort.

Killing has become an integral part of the human experience because of our propensity to kill those who disagree with us. We call it war. It is our absolute favorite way to solve almost any problem. Some one encroaches on our territory – kill them. Some one takes some of our resources – kill them. Some one does not believe the way we do – kill them. It is an automatic response. Individuals, groups and entire nations react this way. Countries and regions will go to war over almost anything. Thousands will die over who has the better God. Unimaginable suffering will occur when one race feels it is superior to another. Death and destruction will rain down on the innocent as various powers fight over stretches of barren wasteland.

Nations take their finest young people and train them in the most effective ways to kill. Countries spend themselves into financial ruin trying to produce the largest military possible. Of course when war breaks out it is almost always the innocent who are slaughtered. Defenseless civilians bear the brunt of the killing. They are left dead, wounded and homeless, and if they are fortunate enough to survive our lust for killing they quickly plunge into poverty.

As a society we willingly condone killing. If someone takes the life of another person we put them in prison for years until we get around to killing them. One death ultimately leads to two deaths. We have decided this is fair and just. We have decided it is the world we want our children to grow up in. We want our kids to know that it is alright to take the life of another human being.

But what about issues that are far less clear in our society regarding our desire to end life? When someone is terminally ill we debate whether or not we should end their suffering. If a person has been medically declared as brain dead we struggle with the idea of stopping life support. When a woman is pregnant and does not want to have the baby our society is torn apart about whether she has the right to an abortion. These kinds of deaths we agonize over. These kinds of deaths seem to involve innocent victims. These kinds of deaths make us stop and search for the true meaning of allowing another human being to die.

So why do we not demonstrate the same level of compassion or concern for the millions who die each year from extreme poverty? They are innocent victims too. They have not done anything wrong. They have not harmed anyone. They are not at war with anyone. They are not a threat to anyone. They just want their children to be safe. They want the opportunity to live in good health with dignity. They want to have enough food and clean water to survive on. Are these unreasonable desires?

Unfortunately, killing becomes easier the more we do it, and by far the easiest way of all to kill is through neglect. You don’t have to pull a trigger or drop a bomb. You don’t have to face your victim or see their suffering. You can simply turn away and kill them with your indifference and selfishness. Neglect kills just as effectively as any man-made weapon, and its efficiency is increased by our refusal to acknowledge our part in its use. Most of us believe that we could never take an innocent person’s life. We just don’t think we are capable of such a thing. But we kill everyday. We kill through our lack of compassion, our unwillingness to share our good fortune and through our preoccupation with our own lives. Neglect, apathy and self centeredness are our weapons of choice. Our victims are mostly children, many under the age of five. We allow them to die because we don’t want to make the effort to help them survive.

Each day we have a choice to make. Do we try to save the lives of the 30,000 who will die or do we once again turn our backs and look the other way? Although we do not want to admit it, we are more than willing to let people die so that we are not inconvenienced. We don’t want to make sacrifices no matter how small they may be. We don’t want to accept any responsibility. We don’t want to feel guilt, and we don’t want to admit to ourselves that, as a species, we are quite comfortable with letting other human beings die. Killing is what we do.

THE PEOPLE OF EXTREME POVERTY JUST WANT TO LIVE. ARE THEY ASKING FOR TOO MUCH?

 

 

 

WESTERN CONSUMERISM

NOTHING IN THE WEST SYMBOLIZES GREED, CONSUMPTION AND MATERIALISM MORE THAN A SHOPPING MALL.

From the moment you step into the perfect climate controlled environment and come face to face with an elaborate fountain, wasting thousands of gallons of water, you are struck by everything that is wrong with our society. The artificial nature of this manmade world is designed around the need to induce average people to part with their money as quickly and as efficiently as possible. And, of course, we line up like mindless drones for the opportunity to do just that. Our entire form of capitalism is based on the fact that we spend before we think. Purchasing on impulse, whether we can afford it or not, helps drive our economy, providing jobs for more people who can then spend money they don’t actually have shopping for things they don’t really need. It is an endless cycle that props up the financial structure of the Western world.  

So …… you and your friend step into the mall and you are greeted by the sights, sounds and smells of temptation. You have told yourself you are going to make this a quick trip, you only need to get a couple of things, but before long other stores catch your eye and you find yourself going into all types of shops. Before you know it you’ve bought a handbag here and another pair of shoes there and some jewelry which you first thought you would give away as a gift, but now you might just keep for yourself. What was to be a 30 minute trip has now turned into 2 hours and you’ve gotten hungry. You and your friend debate whether to have a full meal at one of the nice restaurants or just grab something quick at the food court. It is a big decision that must be considered carefully since you are both on another of an endless series of diets, but you finally agree to just get some Chinese and Mexican at the court and share. You assure each other that your respective diets will resume tomorrow.  

3 short hours later the two of you can barely carry all the bags you have accumulated. What was to be a quick in and out for a few things has now turned into a full-scale shopping spree. You’ve each spent hundreds of dollars, consumed thousands of calories and your feet hurt. You dread walking out into the summer heat to try and find your car among the hundreds of other gas guzzling SUVs but it is the price you must pay for the pure enjoyment of going farther in debt, purchasing things that you’ll never use but that you are sure will add untold happiness to your life. Suddenly you and your friend can’t remember where you came in at. Was it by the high end clothing store or the gourmet ice cream shop? You decide it was the ice cream shop because you remember resisting the temptation to get a couple of scoops when you came in, but now your resolve has weakened, so although you are full, you both decide to stop in and have some dessert and rest your feet before you lug your packages all over the parking lot looking for your vehicle which you only owe 55 more payments on ……  

The mall is a wondrous place filled with overweight people waddling along burdened down by packages filled with virtually worthless items. Teenagers and young adults covered in tattoos and piercings hang out trying desperately to look cool and be noticed. Old men sit in chairs waiting for their wives to exhaust their energy and their checking accounts as they fume about the ball game they are missing on TV. Small children run wild screaming with excitement at all the possibilities that their parents are going to say “NO!” to. The employees of the expensive shops treat their customers with total disdain while minimum wage kids work the fast food counters with all the enthusiasm of someone facing a lumbar puncture. Mall cops try to look intimidating but thankfully do not carry lethal weapons. There are couples who are only there to catch an over priced movie that cost tens of millions of dollars to make, created by a series of corporate decisions that have stripped the film of any artistic value. And finally you have the poor who are simply looking for a place to escape the heat but who have no opportunity to join in on this spectacle of capitalism at its zenith.   

As we shop, spend and consume in the perfect setting of the mall, on the other side of the world it is a different story. One billion human beings struggle to stay alive on a dollar a day. Each year 10,950,000 of them lose that battle. More than 9,000,000 of those deaths are children, many under the age of five. They die from hunger and related causes, treatable illnesses and preventable diseases…but in actuality they die from the neglect of the other five billion people on earth. We have made the collective decision that we would rather eat expensive food at the mall than to save a child from hunger. We prefer to buy more shoes instead of paying for vaccines that could save countless lives. We feel the need to purchase the latest phones and computers even though that money could dig wells and provide safe water for families. We do our hair, our nails and get tans because it is more important that we look good than for a mother to have medical care so that she can survive the delivery of her baby.   

There is a certain sadness that hangs over the mall. People come filled with excitement and anticipation but leave with a feeling of remorse over their complete lack of self-control. Every visit is the same. They come searching for something meaningful but they leave disappointed. Why is this? Perhaps it is because each one of us knows that happiness can’t be found with the swipe of a piece of plastic. We know that there is more to life than piling up as many possessions as we possibly can. We realize that we are chasing a dream that can’t be fulfilled. No matter how much we spend, it cannot replace the need to connect with other people. We are each aware of the terrible poverty that afflicts humanity but too many of us deal with this unpleasant truth by turning away and ignoring it. None of us wants innocent children to have to live and die in squalor and filth. That is why we go to a place like the mall in order to escape from the reality of life, if only for a short time. For a few hours we see the world the way we wish it was, but we know it is only an illusion, and the sadness that descends upon us as we leave and go back to our real lives leaves us feeling empty and disheartened.  

WE CANNOT SPEND OURSELVES INTO PERMANENT HAPPINESS WHEN WE KNOW HUNDREDS OF MILLIONS OF HUMAN BEINGS HAVE NOTHING.

WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN

 

 

WHEN A HUMAN LIFE IS LOST, SO IS ALL THE POTENTIAL GOOD THAT PERSON MIGHT HAVE PRODUCED.

10,950,000 people die each year from extreme poverty. It is such a large number that we have difficulty comprehending it. However, when you are talking about almost eleven million deaths it is critically important to remember that each one of these individuals was a human being just like you and me. The number needs to be personalized for the true loss of humanity to sink in. The people who die each year from extreme poverty are not nameless, faceless statistics. They are flesh and blood. Each man, woman or child who dies from needless starvation, or a preventable illness or a curable disease is an equal member of the human family. All of these individuals could have had a positive affect on countless others, but they were denied the opportunity to make their contributions, and the world is a lesser place because of it.

What if you had died before the age of five from a totally preventable cause? How would the world be different without you? Your children would not exist nor would their accomplishments. Any good thing you might have done would not have happened. All the people’s lives you could have touched would be unaffected. When an individual dies from extreme poverty it is, of course, impossible to know what they might have done with their life, what they could have contributed or what their children could have grown up to be. How do we know that the child who starved to death last night wasn’t destined to become a great world leader like Gandhi or Nelson Mandela. Perhaps yesterday morning malaria claimed the life of a future Nobel Laureate. Maybe tomorrow the person will die from unsafe drinking water who would have become a research scientist, instrumental in finding a cure for one the world’s fatal diseases.

Any of these people might have contributed in some great way to humanity, but they will never have the chance. The overall good that this many people could have produced in the world is incalculable. That is why the horror of an extreme poverty death is three fold. It is not just the obvious immediate loss for those who loved the deceased, it is also the world’s loss because we are denied the opportunity to benefit from the victim’s abilities, personality and love. And each death diminishes those of us who could have helped save that life and didn’t. Whether through ignorance, apathy or selfishness we each contributed to the 10,950,000 deaths last year.

It is indefensible that we choose not to take action and try to prevent the deaths of innocent people. In the West, a violent criminal is given food, clothing and shelter while 25,000 children, on the other side of the world, are allowed to die needlessly each day. These children have hurt no one. They are not a threat to anyone. They are totally without blame, but we choose to feed, clothe and house the criminal and allow the children to die. How can this be justified? Where is the logic in protecting someone who rapes and kills while at the same time being perfectly willing to let a five year old child starve to death?

Because there are one billion people struggling in extreme poverty, individuals sometimes feel overwhelmed by the size of the problem. They wonder if the small amount of help they can give can really make any difference. But what if your financial contributions helped to save just one life, how important is it? Perhaps the one child you save will eventually grow up to be a doctor, who spends her life saving even more people. Your effort is then multiplied many times over. On the other hand, what if you lived in poverty and the one life that was saved was yours? It would be the most important thing in the world. The people who are dying in extreme poverty feel the same way. They believe that their life matters, and that they deserve the chance to live. EVERY LIFE THAT IS SAVED IS IMPORTANT.

There may well come a day when you will need someone to save your life. Perhaps a paramedic or an emergency room doctor or just a person who happens to know CPR will help you at a critical moment. As you are staring death in the face you will believe, with all your being, that your life is worth saving. Or you may have a son or daughter who is severely injured or becomes gravely ill, you will certainly demand that everything possible be done to save your child’s life. We all believe that we and our loved ones deserve to live. Is this not true for the people trapped in extreme poverty as well? They are just like us. They are equal human beings whose lives are worth saving, just as much as yours or mine.

Please consider the 25,000 children that will needlessly die TODAY without our help. What is more important for us to spend our time, money and resources on than saving these innocent victims? The children that die today will leave this world without having the chance to make a difference. With each death there is a life that was not lived, dreams that were never realized and hopes that were crushed before they could be fulfilled. We will never know the peace, courage, love and joy these small victims could have given to the world over their lifetimes. When we do not make the effort to save the lives of those in extreme poverty we are depriving the world of the talents and abilities of millions of human beings.

WHEN WE LET CHILDREN DIE WE ARE KILLING THE FUTURE.

 

 

HOPE

HOPE CANNOT BE BOUGHT OR SOLD – YET EVERYONE MUST HAVE IT.

Hope is the place where dreams are born, and no place on earth needs hope more than in areas ravaged by extreme poverty. To attempt to live without hope destroys a person physically, mentally and emotionally. It takes a toll so severe that people, no matter how courageous they may be, eventually begin to give up and lose the will to live. To be deprived of the chance to see your children survive is more than any parent can stand. To constantly be forced to live in fear and dread wears a human being down and, without hope providing a light at the end of the tunnel, it seems impossible to go on. That is not a way to live.

Hope is just as necessary as food and water. It is intellectually stimulating to have good expectations for the future. Our brains are hardwired to search for positive outcomes and possibilities. When those scenarios are completely absent our mental faculties become confused and we become unsure and concerned about our immediate futures. This has an unsettling effect on our ability to make decisions and to choose appropriate options. If our choices are so limited that none of them present a good outcome we become discouraged and resignation sets in.

In the absence of hope, despair takes hold. In the case of extreme poverty, the despondency and desperation of facing death every day becomes over whelming. You slip into the role of a victim instead of being a functioning human being with self-esteem and dignity. All that you know and believe is stripped away by the unending brutality of life. When you must dig a grave for the child that you once embraced it is a level of pain that cannot be expressed in words. To not have hope is to die a little bit each day – until there is nothing left. How can we let human beings suffer in this way? What excuse can we possibly make that absolves us of any responsibility of stemming such pain?

No one should have to live without hope, and we can make sure that they don’t. Those of us who are fortunate enough to live lives of comfort and prosperity are the ones that can provide lifesaving relief to millions. It is our obligation to take the necessary action to offer hope where there is none. It is our responsibility to create opportunity that will transform lives. We must focus our efforts to offer possibilities that do not currently exist for a billion human beings in extreme poverty. To not use our abilities to their fullest in the effort to end suffering is disgraceful. We must use our time and talents to extend hope to those who need it most. To do any less is immoral.

So how do we create hope? It doesn’t just appear out of thin air. There has to be a systematic approach that offers solutions to multiple problems at the same time. It has to be a comprehensive effort that is directed towards the most serious situations first and then moves on to secondary issues. Hope occurs when hard work is combined with good intentions. It requires effort and persistence. It creates an atmosphere of change that sweeps away limitations and restrictive conditions. Deep, meaningful, lasting hope, that lifts a person up, is the direct result of compassion. If we care, we will do what is necessary to give others a chance in life.

Hope represents different things to different people. Hope to you might mean the possibility of getting a better job, or having the chance to improve your education, or getting the opportunity to own your own home. These are all goals that we are familiar with and share, but in other parts of the world hope represents something profoundly more important. Hope is having more than 500 calories a day to survive on. Hope is a mosquito net to protect your child from malaria. Hope is the healthy laughter of a baby who has been vaccinated against polio. Hope is a decent wage that allows a parent to provide for their family. Hope is a field near a village that has been cleared of landmines. Hope is a well that has been dug to supply safe water to drink. Hope is a trained midwife to assist in childbirth. It is all of these things and more because in reality; hope is possibility.

How would life change if you suddenly lost all hope? What if your child became gravely ill and there was no medical treatment available? What if you held them in your arms and helplessly watched them die because they couldn’t get a simple antibiotic that is available in every pharmacy in America? What if you had to dig their grave in the drought parched earth and shovel dirt into their face? Where would your hope be? This is not some imaginary tale. This is not a cheap attempt to play on your emotions. This is the reality of extreme poverty. People, particularly children, die every day and they don’t have to – and each of the dead leave behind grief-stricken loved ones for whom hope seems like an impossible dream…

…But hope is possible, and we must restore it to the one billion human beings who are enslaved in poverty because hope represents the chance of a better life. It is a life where people do not have to beg on the streets. It is a life where orphans are not ignored and forgotten. It is a life where entire populations are not consumed with illness and disease. It is a life where 25,000 innocent children do not die every 24 hours unnecessarily. It is a life that we can make possible for millions of people if we will only make the effort. YOU represent hope to those who are dying each day without food, water & medical care. If those of us with the highest standard of living in the world won’t help – who will?

HOPE IS THE BRIDGE BETWEEN WHAT IS AND WHAT CAN BE.

WE MUST PROVIDE HOPE TO THOSE WHO SO DESPERATELY NEED IT.

 

 

THE HUMAN FAMILY

THE TAPESTRY OF THE HUMAN FAMILY IS MADE UP OF 7 BILLION INDIVIDUAL FACES, EACH ONE EQUAL TO THE OTHERS.  

Every armed conflict that has ever taken place, every war that has ever been fought and every genocide that has ever broken out has all occurred because of our absolute refusal to accept the fact that we are all part of the same human family. Even though it appears on the surface that wars are waged because of territorial disputes or demands for natural resources, it all actually comes down to a total lack of acceptance by one nationality or ethnic group of another. Our all consuming need to divide and conquer based on nothing more than an illogical hatred of one faction or group has led to unending suffering and misery throughout mankind’s brutal history. 

Millions of innocent human beings have been slaughtered for no more reason than that they seemed dissimilar to those who were willing to kill them because of the color of their skin or because they worshipped a different God or because their political beliefs were difficult to understand. Countless others have been injured and left as homeless refugees having lost everything to the vagaries of power-hungry individuals who were more than willing to enslave and subjugate entire populations for their own selfish desires. Women and children have been endlessly exploited because they have been consistently viewed as inferior to those who were abusing them. The complete willingness of one race or nation to enslave or eliminate those they disagree with has led to the darkest chapters of human history. 

One of the most disturbing aspects of our violent past is that we have not learned from our mistakes. We continue to make the same misjudgments over and over again. We travel down the same roads of ignorance and intolerance puffed up with erroneous feelings of superiority which clouds our thinking to the point that we no longer have a firm grasp of reality as it pertains to the rest of humanity. We set ourselves apart as if we are more important or special than the other 7 billion human beings who share the earth. We are convinced that we are part of God’s master plan that ensures we are to be prosperous and victorious in all things even if it means trampling on the dreams of others. We believe we are the chosen ones.  

But it is not true. There are no “chosen ones”. No one group of human beings is superior in any way to any other group. We are all equal. We all have the same human rights, which includes the right not to be harmed by others. Until humanity accepts the basic fact of equality for all races, genders, political persuasions and religious affiliations we are doomed to repeat the horror that our species has struggled with for centuries. It is distressing that we are unable to perceive or acknowledge such an obvious truth as equality. It makes us highly susceptible to endlessly repeating the same behaviors that have destroyed entire civilizations. How can we be so unwilling to open our eyes and realize that we are all on this planet at the same moment in time, trying to survive in the best way that we can and that we all share the same basic needs and desires for ourselves and our loved ones?  

Our steadfast refusal to treat every person with the same dignity and respect that we believe we deserve has helped to cause and perpetuate the heartbreak and shame of extreme poverty. Our tragic acceptance of the continuing lie that some races, cultures or societies are inferior to ours prevents us from taking action to alleviate the death and suffering that so many face every day of their lives. It is particularly sickening that we stand by and allow more than 9 million children to die each year from hunger, preventable diseases and treatable illnesses all because we do not consider them to be worth saving. As harsh as that sounds it must be the case or otherwise we would intervene on their behalf and save their lives. But we don’t. They are not like us. They are the wrong color. We do not understand their language or belief systems, therefore we have no problem letting them die.  

People become defensive when they are accused of not caring. They are unwilling to admit that they don’t value the life of a black child in Ethiopia in the same way that they value the life of a white child in Indiana. They become indignant when they are accused of being selfish, short sighted or narrow minded, but these labels sting because they know they are true and too often “the truth” is not what we want to hear. But in the case of extreme poverty, refusing to face reality kills 30,000 human beings every 24 hours. That is 1,000,000 dead in just 34 days. That is a devastating price to pay to perpetuate lies that cover up our total disregard for fellow human beings in a order to assuage our feelings of guilt and culpability. 

We must admit our shortcomings and failings in order to overcome them. We cannot continue to allow one billion people to struggle in the filth and deprivation of poverty because we do not consider them to be equal human beings. They cannot die because of our stupidity. We must find it within ourselves to accept the reality of life on this planet. We cannot hide behind national flags or religious intolerance anymore. We cannot despise someone to the point that we will let innocent children die because we do not approve of the color of their skin. We cannot kill, starve, abuse or neglect any population because we are too lazy to make the effort to reach out and try to understand them as opposed to just bombing them into submission. We must learn to value and embrace the sanctity of life from the moment of conception to the final breath for every living thing on earth. There can be no exclusions or deviations. We must finally, once and for all, use our intellectual capacity to understand the overwhelming human need for simple compassion.  

EXTREME POVERTY FLOURISHES BECAUSE OF OUR INABILITY TO ACCEPT THE FACT THAT WE ARE ALL EQUAL MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN FAMILY.