Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

I'm joining nearly 10,000 other bloggers, video and podcasters to spark conversation and awareness of poverty today. there are no rules or guidelines.

my brain is going a lot of directions. the poverty i saw in africa...the poverty i saw in russia...the poverty i've seen in america through my work with foster kids...

i don't know about anyone else, but i'm feeling overwhelmed lately. overwhelmed with information, overwhelmed with "facts" and opinions, overwhelmed with the images and stories of children and families who live a world away from me. i tend to shut down when i get this overwhelmed. i tend to ignore everything coming at me. i feel like, if i can't fix everything, i don't want to think about it. i just don't know where to start, where to invest my time and resources.

but we can't shut down. we can't ignore. those of you who have read my blog for very long know that i'm pretty straightforward about my limited knowledge/understanding about political things, and i don't know how to separate poverty from politics. i don't have solutions, i don't have brilliant insights into the current state of things. but i know that, at the very least, we have to start SEEING what's going on, and taking some responsibility for the small things we CAN do in our communities, our social circles. there are needs very close to home, and i think each of us can commit to being more aware of where we can bless others. (i know, it sounds so cliche.)
there's a resource i use when i train parents called "the state of the village." it's a very effective tool to give people perspective on what's going on in the world around us. it's a little longer than what i would normally post, but i'm sharing it here because it's a very humbling look at how RICH we really are.

State of the Village Report
If the world were a village of 1000 people:
584 would be Asians
123 would be Africans
95 would be East and West Europeans
84 Latin Americans
55 Soviets (still including for the moment Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, etc.)
52 North Americans
6 Australians and New Zealanders

The people of the village would have considerable difficulty communicating:
165 people would speak Mandarin
86 would speak English
83 Hindi/Urdu
64 Spanish
58 Russian
37 Arabic
That list accounts for the mother-tongues of only half the villagers. The other half speak (in descending order of frequency) Bengali, Portuguese, Indonesian, Japanese, German, French, and 200 other languages.

In the village there would be:
300 Christians (183 Catholics, 84 Protestants, 33 Orthodox)
175 Moslems
128 Hindus
55 Buddhists
47 Animists
210 all other religons (including atheists)

One-third (330) of the people in the village would be children. Half the children would be immunized against the preventable infectious diseases such as measles and polio.
Sixty of the thousand villagers would be over the age of 65.
Just under half of the married women would have access to and be using modern contraceptives.
Each year 28 babies would be born.
Each year 10 people would die, three of them for lack of food, one from cancer. Two of the deaths would be to babies born within the year.
One person in the village would be infected with the HIV virus; that person would most likely not yet have developed a full-blown case of AIDS.

In this thousand-person community, 200 people would receive three-fourths of the income; another 200 would receive only 2% of the income.

Only 70 people would own an automobile (some of them more than one automobile).
About one-third would not have access to clean, safe drinking water.
Of the 670 adults in the village half would be illiterate.

If the world were a village of 1000 persons, there would be five soldiers, seven teachers, one doctor. Of the village's total annual expenditures of just over $3 million per year, $181,000 would go for weapons and warfare, $159,000 for education, $132,000 for health care.

The village would have buried beneath it enough explosive power in nuclear weapons to blow itself to smithereens many times over. These weapons would be under the control of just 100 of the people. The other 900 people would be watching them with deep anxiety, wondering whether the 100 can learn to get along together, and if they do, whether they might set off the weapons anyway through inattention or technical bungling, and if they ever decide to dismantle the weapons, where in the village they will dispose of the dangerous radioactive materials of which the weapons are made.
Copyright Sustainability InstituteThis article from The Donella Meadows Archive is available for use in research, teaching, and private study. For other uses, please contact Diana Wright, Sustainability Institute, 3 Linden Road, Hartland, VT 05048, (802) 436-1277.

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