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Last year I participated in this action [theme:GoGreen] and I still think it is the best thing I have done as a blogger. If I am going to write a blog, it may as well contribute some positive energy to the universe. So I am very happy to be here again [especially considering my self-imposed hiatus this year]. Anyone else interested in participating today or next year check it out here.
This topic is, as far as I am concerned, THE biggest problem the world has and is related to any other cause in which you may be involved or care about. Most of us do not understand what true poverty is, especially if we are fortunate enough to live in one of the industrialized western world nations. The difference between being poor in the United States is far different than being poor in, say, Somalia. The large discrepancies between the wealthy class and the poverty class, however, exist everywhere and I do not mean to imply that being poor in the USA is OK. In fact, I think it is a national shame. We have no excuses for allowing children in our country to go hungry or for having any homeless person die on our streets. We brag about being the richest nation in the world, capable of policing other nations, yet poverty still exists and it is getting worse, not better!
If you have been awake in the last month or so, you may have heard about the “economic crisis” occurring here which is reverberating around the world. I heard one economist or expert-type compare it this way: If we ‘sneeze’ economically, the rest of the world gets the flu. Well, our nose is running and we need to wipe up our mess. There is no reason why any executive should earn a millions-of-dollars severance package while his investors are losing their shirts. Or their homes. Likewise, I do not believe there is any excuse for actors and athletes to make millions per game or movie or show while their fans rely on food stamps and prayer. Yes, many of these individuals contribute to their communities or charity-of-the-month, but the problem is not going away.
Beyond our own doorsteps, and I firmly believe that we are an international community now, we must look at the facts around the world. UNICEF figures estimate that between 26,500-30,000 children under age 5 die every day due to poverty. Think about that again: Today, October 15, 2008, nearly THIRTY THOUSAND children will die just because they live in poor circumstances which could be changed. Not because of war, natural disasters or abuse, but because they do not have food, or clean water or warm clothes. That stat does not even factor in the older children and adults who are dying beside them. Most of these children are in remote villages which have few resources, being ignored by their governments and most of the world, but a few are also in our own communities. No one has been able to explain to me why we freely spend billions of dollars on wars, oil and liposuction while children are allowed to die.
I am not an economist, or investor type, and have bad flashbacks of my college Microeconomics course, but I do understand the simple concept of Supply and Demand. The problem as I see it is we have the wrong supplies for the growing demands. Basic human needs [food, shelter, clothing] are not being distributed fairly, while luxuries and random useless Stuff are taking over the planet. I cannot tell you how upset I get when I see new, high-dollar planned communities being built, while empty homes rot into the earth. Or how disturbing it is to see dumpsters full of food when people are starving down the street. Of course, doing something about it may take some radical overhauling of our own lifestyles and the corporate world which controls that supply. Or it may not.
Simplicity works. We can all change one small thing in our life which can have a huge impact in the grander scheme of things. Eat leftovers [yum, my favorite lunch!]; Donate clothes, food, money, time-whatever you have to share; STOP THROWING THINGS AWAY! Last year’s sweater can still keep someone warm! [including yourself] If you do invest, find companies who are contributing to a solution not the problem; Educate yourself and others: READ, write and STAND UP! Use your voice if you have nothing else to give and speak out. There are a myriad of opportunities on the web and in your community. Yes, I have worked at soup kitchens [and eaten at them, too], shared food with strangers and given what I can to spangers. A one-time donation is good for your karma; even Free Rice.com is an action which we can complete while surfing instead of looking up the latest celebrity gossip or techno gadgets.
The United Nations has identified eradicating world poverty as its #1 Millenium Goal. By the year 2015, poverty should not exist on such global levels. There is a lot more info available at that link as well as opportunities to help. This weekend, Stand Up Against Poverty is occurring around the world, including here in cyberspace. Please take a few minutes to check out their vid. Consider it your action of the day. And, once again, I will promote Change.org, which is one of my favorite sites on the web and offers everyone a chance to do something about poverty or any other cause you choose.