Saturday, October 9, 2010

When It Comes to Poverty, Are You Squinting at Reality?

Mark Hanlon, Senior Vice President, USA, Compassion International, reflects on our eyesight when we consider the problem of poverty:
(The Huffington Post) - A Census Bureau report recently released found the percentage of Americans now living in poverty rose to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest in decades.

For many of us, this was a huge shock. News like this sends a shudder through our collective spine. And for every family that finds itself now living in poverty, it isn't a headline at all; it is a personal tragedy.

But as we come to grips with this most recent statistic, we have a dual set of challenges. On one hand, we need to do all in our power to help those struggling here at home. But we also have the challenge of viewing poverty with "global bifocals." With one portion of the lens we see and attack needs close to home. With the other portion of the lens we focus on the realities of global poverty that may seem far away.

Here at home, poverty is a single mom in Detroit trying to keep food on the table. In Africa, poverty is a 14-year-old orphaned head-of-household trying to find fresh water for himself and his siblings. The challenge isn't to choose one over the other. The task is to view two harsh realities through a common lens of compassion and assistance.

In America, poverty is defined as living on less than $26.22 per day. In the rest of the world poverty is defined as living on less than $1.25 per day.

In America, clean water flows from our faucets and we still purchase designer water. In the developing world, clean water is kilometers away and more than 1 billion people lack access to potable water. In fact, 1.4 million children will die this year from waterborne diseases. That's more than 3,800 children every day -- yesterday, today and tomorrow. . . .

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