Compassionate about the poor    Bill  Mulcahy  (Brisbane)  

May 18, 2012            Poverty! Can We End It????
Bill's previous articles

Or should we ask ourselves instead: Do We Want To End It????? That is most likely the better question. If we think that this then should be the better question, it must then be followed up with: “What should I be doing to help?”

I honestly think that it is now within our reach to eradicate poverty from our world. The statistics don’t lie, they remind us clearly the suffering that world poverty causes. We must continually be reminded that a billion people struggle to live each day on less than many of us pay for a cappuccino or latte, or even a bottled water. This week I committed to the Live Below The Line a challenge to live for 5 days on just $2 a day. (This is half what I paid for a takeaway coffee the previous week) I agree that much inroads have and are being made by many wonderful people, companies and governments, it is also true to say that nearly ten million children under 5 years old still die each year unnecessarily UNICEF-May 2012 Daily this figure is 27,000 Global Issues which is about the size of an average crowd to an NRL game on a Saturday night.

This brings us to the dilemma that faces us in the lucky developed world. You and I have this profound choice: Do we turn our backs on 1/5 of the world’s population because we don’t like what we see or do we face the choice head on and therefore become part of the solution. A solution that says children should not die because they don’t have enough to eat or clean water to drink; not die due to preventable illnesses like measles, malaria, pneumonia or diarrhoea; or because of lack of adequate shelter.

If you see a child drowning in a pool, your first instinct is to save him/her. No questions, no pondering, no choice, it’s automatic. While this child and this situation is not the same as seeing a child dying of malaria or diarrhoea, the principle is nevertheless the same. A child’s life can be, and is, saved.  But what stops us? There is only one child drowning in the pool and when we have saved him/her, we have solved the problem and, apart from remembering about it, we do not need to think more about it. But, with millions dying from poverty-related causes, saving one child does not save the problem. This is daunting for most of us. We feel that trying to do anything is futile. This is a huge mistake in our thinking. We don’t have to save everyone, imagine if the 22million population of Australia saved one child each: that’s 22 million that would still be alive.

Ryunosuke Satoro said: “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” And likewise “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop.” Saving one child is no less important because there are many others we cannot save.

So what can you and I do to help end this complex issue of world poverty. We must be evoked by the alarming statistics surrounding poverty, so we can’t try to justify ignoring their plight. We must become compassionate for the hungry child, whose name we don’t know or face we can’t see, thousands of kilometres away from us as we would for a drowning child right in front of us.

We can provide clean water and sanitation to a village; we can provide bed-nets to reduce malaria; we can provide immunization to prevent measles; we can help people in many ways. We can be bolder and embark on poverty reducing enterprise. We just need to WANT to! We have a MORAL obligation to help.

We can complain and protest loudly about petrol prices, pay rises, economic downturns and the like, but we somehow find money for the takeaway coffee, football admittance, concert tickets, iPads, movie hire and even bottled water. Bottled water, even when we have safe tap water. Just these few things could amount to $600 and the water maybe $3.50. The bottled water is probably more than many families live on for an entire day.

We can change our thinking. We can end poverty. We just need to say that we want to. I am one drop, Peter can be one drop, Jan can be one drop, Steve can be one drop, Alicia can be one drop, Matthew can be one drop……will you be one drop too?

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