July 12     

Today's quotation:

Once poverty is gone, we'll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations.   They'll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society-- how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.

Muhammad Yunus

Today's Meditation:

When I was younger, I used to hear about how so many people were fighting poverty, about how we would be seeing less and less poverty in the world as time goes on.  Unfortunately, though, that seems not to have been completely true.  Poverty persists, and it brings us all down when other human beings are unable to support themselves, feed themselves, have decent shelter, be able to treat themselves to something nice every once in a while.

The news seems to be pretty good as far as numbers are concerned-- extreme poverty has been reduced significantly over the last several decades, actually cut by more than half according to some estimates.  But extreme poverty is only one part of the picture-- there are billions of people living in conditions that are unhealthy, and they have little to no opportunities for changing their circumstances.

So do I think that we all should feel guilty because others have less than we do?  Of course not.  That kind of guilt does nothing to improve situations.  We can, though, be aware of what's going on and do our best to counter poverty in ways that are available to us.  Giving to charities that run thrift shops is a very good way to help, for example.  If the parent who can't afford new school clothes for their children can find decent clothing for very low prices instead of new, store prices, that can be very helpful.  Giving to charities that pass things on for free can be even better, especially when it involves food and other necessities.

We'll always hear the argument that if we give to others, we're keeping them from learning to help themselves.  While there is some truth in that idea-- in extreme situations-- the truth is that most of us have much more than we need, and it's in everyone's best interests for us to share.  Poverty is a social problem as well as a personal issue, and we'll be doing the entire world a huge favor by doing everything we can, even in our own small ways, to work against it.

Questions to consider:

Why do so many people live in poverty while so many others have pretty much everything they need, and then some?

What kinds of problems tend to stem from poverty?

Why do so few people make efforts to combat poverty?

For further thought:

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one person who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence.

Eugene V. Debs

more on poverty



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