"I`ve been rich and I`ve been poor. Rich is definitely better." I think it was Cher
I`ve never been poor but I hear (from 2003 United Nations stats) that 824 million people in the developing world were affected by chronic hunger. I can`t imagine chronic hunger. And every year 11 million children die, most under 5 years of age , from completely preventable causes like malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia.
Ok, that's stark enough before we all start crying in our pudding. And I know everybody is a little tired of poor little African kids looking for a buck on World Vision adds but people only feel that way because of this fantasy called the developed world where we can become so "comfortably numb." The crazy thing is that we only need to share a wee bit of this fantasy to allow a life and a future for these kids. Their opportunity to exist seems a little reasonable.
According to the "2006 United Nations Human Development Index", Norway is a nice place to live and Niger is not. Norway is the #1 "most livable country" while Niger is the #1 "least livable country." The life expectancy in Norway is 78.9 years and in Niger 47 years is the prize. Me, I keep looking at the white "makepovertyhistory" band that I wear every day and hope that an 11 year old boy from Niger beats the odds and lives past his 47th birthday. Apparently these kind of miracles are possible by 2015 if we adopt the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations?
The MDG gameplan is the brainchild of one of the planets truly contagious brainiacs, Jeffrey Sachs. Now Sachs tells me through his terrific book, "The End of Poverty", that a very small piece of the planet`s wealth bonanza (that would be us in Norway, Canada, USA, rest of Europe, Japan etc), a mere .7% of our GNP, can alleviate extreme poverty in our lifetime. Hear that Boomers! Chi Ching I can feel that karma rising fast and furious.
But the problem is that our governments, especially in North America, aren`t listening. They`re talking, but not doing, and falling way short of .7%. So maybe its time for Boomers and everyone else to raise a shite storm and demand that our politicians spend less money "killing people" and focus on saving lives. The cost is minimal and our karma is calling.
To this end, perhaps we need to approach poverty in our time as Kennedy spoke his "Golden Rule' to Americans in 1963 about racism.
" The heart of the question...is whether we are going to treat our fellow Americans as we want to be treated."
My Golden Rule is simple. Do for others as you would have them do for you, or yours. Don`t spoil them, just give them an opportunity to exist and evolve.
It is very much like wearing the other man`s shoes. Can we appreciate the frustration of losing our family and friends in their youth to diseases that can be so easily cured at a low cost? I can only imagine the pain and the thing is, we can still have our smarter cars, Ipods, 50inch LCD`s and makepovertyhistory. Jeffrey Sachs has the plan and we can afford it.
The plan is practical, science based and the results are measurable. These people need something more concrete than a "hope and a prayer". They need insecticide treated anti-malaria bed nets, soil treatment and improved agricultural techniques, the training of community health and agricultural workers, cheap drugs (aides) and basic nutrition. These kinds of simple solutions might seem like a gift from the Gods to desperate people.
"There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread." Mahatma Gandhi
I have this dream that one day the children of Niger will live long enough to see their hair turn grey. Maybe I`m a tad hopeful but holy shite, this seems like a firesale on doing good. How do we resist a bargain like that?