Sunday, October 24, 2010

Soul Nugget 2: The Greatest Poverty

35.9 million people... 35,900,000 people live below the poverty line in the United States. That's approximately the same as the entire populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, Philadelphia, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Detroit, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Austin, Columbus, Fort Worth, and Charlotte combined (US Census Bureau).

That's just the United States. And we're doing pretty good.

Worldwide, 842 million people are undernourished. 15 million children die from malnutrition every year.

1.3 billion people worldwide live on less than one U.S. dollar a day.

The tragic thing is... it's not like there's not enough to go around. In the United States, we throw away 100 billion (that's billion... with a "b") pounds of food per year.

[Okay. Now let these statistics sink in for a second, then take a deep breath.]

When you look at numbers like these, how can you not feel overwhelmed? I can't even comprehend one million. How can I even come close to comprehending some of these numbers? 1.3 billion... 100 billion... 842 million... If we can't even grasp the magnitude of these problems, how are we supposed to fix them?

I'm a college student. I am currently thousands of dollars in debt to the U.S. government. I barely have enough to pay for books, gas, and school bills. How am I supposed to solve world hunger? I mean, it's not like I can just box up my broccoli and send it to Africa. It's not like I can scan a group of starving children into the school cafeteria using meal swipes.

Perhaps someday I'll have the resources to be able to undertake some of these problems, but as for right now, I am ultimately powerless to really make that much of a difference.

But there is another kind of poverty that is even more pervasive... there is a hunger that is greater than physical hunger. And this kind of poverty, I can do something about.

Mother Teresa once said: "Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted and unloved is the greatest poverty."

Hm... if this is true, then I think I'm living in poverty as well. If this is true, I'm sure you know someone that you see every day who is living poverty, and you have the resources (yourself) you need to do something about it.

Physical poverty is pretty bad. Actually, it's downright evil and it seems hopeless. No one individual can overcome these problems. They're simply too big... too complex...

But we can do something. Here's another Mother Teresa quote: "In this life we cannot do great things, only little things with great love."

Hey. I can do that. I think you can too. And by doing so, I think we'll be able to do our part in ending both physical poverty, as well as spiritual poverty.

Just remember: little things... great love.

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