Some Good News
If you haven’t read Wednesday’s post, read it now. Of course if you also haven’t read Monday’s post you should read that first. The posts this week all kind of flowed out of each other. I’m going to finish the topic up today (for the time being at least). My first post was kind of dark, and my second one was very strong, though it needed to be said. They were also both directed more at Christians than others. This post is applicable to all. Today we move on to the good news.
The good news is there is a lot of good we can do out there. And there’s a lot of good that’s already been done.
Believe it or not, the world is actually in a lot better shape than it was forty years ago, primarily due to the efforts of nonprofit humanitarian organizations (and thus, indirectly, by ordinary people like us donating our time and money). We are slowly winning the war on global poverty. We’re a long way away from the finish line but we have gotten closer to it. Starvation, injustice, poverty, disease, and exploitation are all challenges that can be solved and are being solved. Here are some vital stats (taken from the excellent book A Hole in Our Gospel by World Vision president Richard Stearns):
-Life expectancy in developing nations increased from 46 years in 1960 to 66.1 years in 2005.
-The under-five child mortality rate has been cut in half since 1970.
-Preventable child deaths have fallen 50 percent since 1960
-The percentage of the world’s population classified as hungry has been reduced from 33% to 18% in the last forty years.
-The percentage of people with access to clean water in developing countries went from 35% in 1975 to 80% in 2007.
-Polio has been almost eradicated from the globe.
-Adult literacy has risen from 43% to 77% since 1970.
This is pretty encouraging, right? But it doesn’t feel that way usually. We live in the information age, where all the world’s problems are piled on top of us and we feel helpless to accomplish anything at all. When you’re already feeling helpless it can feel like a personal attack when people start talking about our responsibility to those in need. “What? How can you expect me to solve the world’s problems? I’m not a millionaire, what can I do?” The answer is that you can do a lot, even with a little. Just five dollars can save a life, in the right hands. Even if you don’t have much money, you do have time, energy, and talent that can be used to help. Find a worthy cause and then start your own personal fundraiser. Ask friends and family to donate, or people at your work (note: if you do something like this, keep careful track of all donations and try to keep everything as transparent as possible. You don’t want anyone accusing you of pocketing the money. A good way to avoid all that is to have people write checks to the charity you’re raising money for, instead of just giving you cash). Can you play an instrument? Hold a mini-concert and raise money for people in need. Do you have artistic talent? Draw people’s portraits in exchange for donations. There are a lot of great ideas out there, and you’d be surprised by how much money you can raise. I once raised around $150 for tsunami victims just by asking around at my school (I’m sure I could have done better if I’d thought creatively about it). Now $150 doesn’t sound like much in the face of World Poverty, but you have to remember that it’s not up to you to solve all the world’s problems. It’s just up to you to try your best and save the people you can. $150 won’t save a village, but it will save people; real, flesh and blood people with hopes, dreams, and fears just like you and me. And though $150 isn’t much it is a lot more than I could have given on my own.
The final bit of good news is that giving is one of the most fulfilling and awe inspiring things we can do on this world. A $5 app can be a lot of fun, but you don’t get much else out of the experience; just fun, eventually followed by boredom and moving on to a new game. Giving $5 (or even $1!) to build wells for a thirsty village or to help poor children pay for an education gives you so much more than that. As surprising as it may sound it feels good to give. To know that because of your small sacrifice someone’s life, maybe many people’s lives, will be saved. To know that you’re helping make this world a little less dark, that’s the fulfilling part. What’s awe inspiring is the impact saving a single life can have. Your $5/$1 might end up providing the food needed to save a starving child. That child might then grow up to do great things; he might become a doctor, or an engineer. Even if he just becomes a farmer or a construction worker he’ll still have a great impact on those around him. He might get married and have children, children who never would have existed if it wasn’t for you. His children might achieve even more than he did, whether that means developing a cure for a disease or simply helping out their neighbors. The person you save (or his kids) might end up saving other people’s lives, and those people will go on to touch others and have their own children…it never ends. It boggles the mind how saving a single life might have such an impact on the future. What a heritage! What a blessing to the world! That’s the impact saving a life can have.
To sum it all up the world is getting better every day because of the actions of simple people like you and me. We can all make a difference no matter how big our paychecks are. The pain and suffering around us can paralyze us, and make us feel hopeless, but it shouldn’t. Instead we should remember that though the race to end world poverty will be a long and hard one, it is one we can win. Thank God we get the opportunity to be a part of it.