March 13, 2011 by bekkyb
**Note: This is an issue I’m still working on in my own life.
Charities across the world take in millions – maybe even billions – of dollars every year, and distribute it to needy persons. In fact, within the last however many decades, the total amount given to world aid has reached into the trillions. So why is the problem still so huge? Why have those trillions of dollars not fixed the problem already? If people in different nations really can have all their needs met for only $1 a day, why is there still so much poverty? A huge part of the answer can be put this way: giving a little out of our ill-gotten wealth doesn’t stop the problem that causes poverty.
For example, it intrigues me that a person can sponsor a child or toss a few coins into a world aid appeal bucket, then go and purchase clothes produced in a sweatshop by workers who earn barely enough to stay alive. We buy into brands that have a huge reputation for devastating whole communities through slave-like labour, the taking of natural (and vital) resourcses, and any of thousands of practices that destroy the local environment for people in places like Africa and South America. We allow ourselves to act out of the media-fuelled consumer mentality, which benefits the select few (the 20% of the world who owns 80% of the world’s wealthy) and crushes the majority who struggle to share out the leftovers.
We see images on television of emaciated children; shops raise money for sex slaves in south east asia; even in our
Western nations there is evidence of poverty and decay, hiding in alley ways and government housing. Though it shocks us to see these things, we never think to change our ways, to do something to reverse the situation.
I don’t want to be complacent anymore. I don’t want to be selfish and greedy. I don’t want to make excuses based on my minimal income – who am I to say I’m too poor to buy fair trade clothing, when in reality if I could ignore the push for instant gratification, I could save up to buy those clothes and help and individual or even a community across the globe.
Breaking out of the system is difficult – it is so ingrained, so loud, so tempting. Yet it is so necessary. Spreading God’s love means doing a bit of dirty work in your own heart first – mucking it out, throwing away the negatives, replacing them with positives like love and thoughtfulness and generosity. The work is hard, but I anticipate that the rewads will be more satisfying than a whole wardrobe of new clothes.
Category fair trade, thoughts | Tags: africa,child sponsorship,clothes,clothing,environment,fair trade,poverty,sex slaves,slave labour,south america,south east asia,sponsor child,sweat shop workers,sweat shops,third-world,wealth,wealthy,western,world aid | No Comments
July 2, 2010 by bekkyb
The world is a terrible place, but it is often hard to see it. It’s like being inside a nice clean house. You, in your beautiful, well-presented house are very happy. You have everything you need. But you have heard that other houses in your neighbourhood are filthy, filled with muck and grime, with few nice things in them at all. However, you never step outside your lovely house so it’s easy to forget these things.
I hate the fact that so many people across the globe are suffering in ways that we can’t even imagine – yet try to make a typical, self-obsessed Western teenager (or adult, for that matter!) give a damn and you’ve got a real challenge on your hands. Out of sight, out of mind – right?
The adults don’t care. They’ve got families, jobs, mortgages, bills, friends, dinner parties….. to worry about. And why is it their fault, all of a sudden, that two thirds of the world’s population live in abstract poverty?
As for the kids, it’s easy to feel powerless. Or just not know of the issues raging somewhere just out of their sight. After all, who is going to teach them these things? How are they to learn about the causes of national poverty or the origins of modern-day slave trafficking? Growing up is just one eye-opener after the other – but with often no-one around to take their hand and show them steps they can take to make a difference, most kids will settle into the same routines laid down by their parents.
Passivity leads to ignorance. When you learn about global issues, when you see images of naked, emaciated children, when you watch heart-breaking footage of third-world kids slaving to produce a food substance with no nutritional value, you have to act – and quickly. Otherwise that tiny flame of hope and desperation, that says that where you see a need you have the opportunity to try and fill it, will die down and be forgotten. Replacing it will be the old Western Dream, as always.
The only way to break away from the Western Dream… is to break away. Get up and go. If you can save for a new X-Box, or a new car, or a deposit on a house – and God knows that if you want it, you will get it – then you can save for a plane ticket to a third-world nation. If you can run for school captain, or prepare for a job interview, or manage your household, you can head out into the unknown and know that wherever you go, you will be making a difference. If you can smile, if you can keep your hopes up, if you can stay by someone’s side in their times of trial, you can make a difference.
I don’t want to be sucked in anymore. I want to be someone real and do something that really matters to someone other than myself. My prayer is that I am not the only one.
Category essay, humanity, social justice, society | Tags: adult,bills,dinner parties,emaciated,family,friends,house deposit,household,ignorance,job,job interview,mortgage,new car,parents,poverty,school captain,slave trafficking,suffering,teenager,third-world,western,world,x-box | No Comments