Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Thoughts on Poverty
I live in the 16th poorest city in the United States. 1 in 3 Wacoans live in poverty. I see many of these Wacoans on a regular basis as a go to the store, to church, to coffee, and just about everywhere my life takes me. If you read my blog regularly, you have heard me talk about local and global poverty before, as this is an issue that is constantly on my mind. I am often reminded of the three basic rights I learned in class growing up: food, clothing, and shelter. (This was probably the first required memorized piece of information I can remember.)
Around 923 million people in the world go hungry.
In the U.S., one in ten housholds are living with hunger or are at risk of being hungry. Children are forced to skip meals in order for their families to get through the week.
We have the means to end hunger. Americans spend more on pet food each year than the cost it would take to end world hunger. We just need a change in priorities.
My friend Erin (in Nashville) and I were talking one day about "the issues" and she told me something that stuck with me. She said something like, "Things can be done to make things right, but WE need to be willing to make the sacrifices needed in order for that to happen."
This is so true and eloquently put, so I decided that I would dedicate this post to 5 sacrifces WE can make in order to make a difference (as individuals and collectively) in the area of poverty. **NOTE: One thing that I am sacrificing that is not my my list is convienience. I do making banking with strictly credit unions (see below why I do not enjoy banks) which don't have national locations, but the sacrifice is meaningful to me and worth it.**
1. Sacrifice your time by educating yourself about the issues of local, national, and international poverty. Being aware is great, but being EDUCATED is even more important. This is the fodder for making better decisions. You are now a grown up. You need to start making your own INFORMED decisions. Remember when you found out that you don't like your steaks medium well, (even though your parents do) but rather medium? Well, its the same with things that actually MATTER.
Start by watching "The Story of Stuff" video by clicking here.
Check out Bread for the World for loads of information by clicking here.
If you are in Waco, attend Baylor's Poverty Summit in November. (click to learn more)
2. Sacrifice your reputation by talking to those around you and informing others. Did you know that pay day loan places (you know the ones that prey on the poor and charge RIDICULOUS unregulated interest) are owned by many national bank branches as a way to circumvent government restrcitions and make more money? Now you do...because I told you. Don't you want your friends to make more informed decisions? If you won't talk to them about your newfound enlightenment, who will?
Use your facebook, myspace, blog, telephone, or just yell over the fence at your neighbor. I mean, do I really need to tell you how to talk to people?
3. Sacrifice your money by donating and microfinancing. There are many organizations that would welcome your money and put it to great use towards the cause. Don't have much money to give? Think about microfinancing - small loans given to entrepreneurs in developing areas to help them life themselves and their communities out of poverty. You will get back your small loan and be able to turn it around to change another life.
Microfinance someone's small business with Kiva by clicking here.
Support the World Hunger Farm by clicking here.
4. Sacrifice your skills by getting your hands dirty and working FOR the poor. This can be done on so many levels, so be creative. Think about voluntering with local and national agencies fighting against poverty. It is also important to think about how you can be a change agent for the cause. Think creatively about how you can involve your business in pro poor work.
Find local and national agencies online or in the phone book and network FOR the poor not just for yourself.
5. Sacrifice your comfort zone by continually being in relationships with people that are different than you. This should definitely include both the rich AND the poor. This is probably the most important sacrifce because if you are in relationship with those that are effected by your work, you will consistently be motivated to continue the fight to end poverty.
Easy. Be where people are and meet them.
I appreciate any additional items you would like to add in the comments and.or your thoughts on poverty and our role in complicating ourselves in order to eliminate the deprivation of a basic human right.