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Folks, we live in an extremely small bubble, most of us completely unaware of what the real world is like. For example, a few years ago Internet penetration in the United States was at less than 30%. Globally, phone penetration was equally small. Yet I'm sure most of us couldn't consider living without those "necessities". Those of us in the "industrialized world" live lives that most in the world would consider opulent, if not sloven. Sometimes it takes a slap in the face to realize what the world is really like. I got one of those slaps in the face a few minutes ago. It came in the form of statistics about global poverty. Here they are:

  • At least 8 million people die in the world each year because they are too poor to stay alive.

  • Nearly half of the 6 billion people in the world are considered poor. Eek

  • This doesn't include those who are in fact poor, but who live outside of the $1 per day definition of extreme poverty. Eek

  • Almost half of the African continent lives in extreme poverty.

  • In 2002, the United States gave only $3 per each sub-Saharan African.

    Source: United Nations Millennium Project

    This makes me physically ill. It is amazing to me that we can consider ourselves to be an evolved and modern society, yet we allow the world to be ravaged in the way that it is by poverty - which could be stopped. I know we have problems in our communities to solve and that there is poverty right here in America, but it just seriously pains me that so many people are suffering so greatly.

    Do we (Western society) have any sense of morality at all about our fellow man? How can we sit in our houses, drive our SUV's, and get fat while most people on Earth are a meal or two away from starvation? sad

    To be clear, I am not attacking anyone here. I know the vast majority probably share my shock at these statistics. But conceptually, do we have any responsibility to humanity about this? As Americans, the greatest consumers and exploiters in the world, do we have any responsibility toward "the least of these"? As African Americans who have experienced oppression and poverty more than others here, do we have any particular responsibility to do something about this issue; or, should we just focus on poverty in our communities and let the world resolve itself? Is it OK for us to enjoy whatever trappings of the middle class (like computers even) that we have while also being sensitive to what's going on in the world? How do we rationalize our personal desire to provide more for our families and to "do well", with awareness of the condition of most on our planet?

    Your thoughts?
  • © MBM

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    Blair urges world to help Africa

    LONDON, England (AP) -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair has challenged the world to help end the poverty, conflict and disease plaguing Africa, as he launched a major international report on how to ease the continent's woes.

    "There can be no excuse, no defense, no justification for the plight of millions of our fellow beings in Africa today. There should be nothing that stands in our way of changing it. That is the simple message from the report published today," said Blair, unveiling the findings of his Africa Commission.

    The 400-page report calls on the international community to immediately double foreign aid to Africa to $50 billion and make fighting AIDS a priority. It sets 100 percent debt cancellation as a goal and urges rich nations to drop trade barriers that hurt poor countries.

    It also says African leaders must move faster toward democracy, stamp out corruption and take other steps to improve how their countries are run.

    Blair hopes the report will be embraced around the world as a blueprint for an African renaissance. He has made helping Africa a key priority for Britain's presidencies of both the powerful Group of Eight wealthiest nations and the European Union this year.

    "In a world where prosperity is increasing and more people sharing each year in this growing wealth, it is an obscenity that should haunt our daily thoughts that 4 million children in Africa will die this year before their fifth birthday," Blair added, calling for a new partnership between the developing world and Africa.

    Africans and others working to solve the continent's deep troubles say the challenge now is to implement the report's recommendations.

    "Unless we deliver, it'll just be another report," said Myles Wickstead, the director of the Commission for Africa.

    The 17 members of the Commission for Africa, chaired by Blair and including Live Aid activist and musician Bob Geldof and Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, have acknowledged that other high profile efforts to rescue Africa have foundered.

    But they hope the report will muster concerted international action in a year that governments and aid agencies say is a make or break year for the continent.

    "This report can be a rallying call for a generation that will no longer tolerate the obscenity of extreme poverty in Africa -- or it could end up gathering dust," said Adrian Lovett of the anti-poverty group Oxfam.

    "It's now up to world leaders to rise to the challenge, to take long-overdue action and make this a breakthrough year for Africa."


    Copyright 2005 The Associated Press.
    I think the fact of world poverty must be addressed by national interests. World Poverty is a problem for the resources of gross national products.

    World Poverty can only be resolved by resources with world impact potential.

    Personal contribution for helping to alleviate this problem is a personal choice.

    I do not think there is any personal guilt that can be assigned to this problem.

    Should the United States be aggressively involved in addressing this problem?


    Should African American be aggressively involved in addressing this problem?



    Jim Chester
    American politicians are far too concerned with stealing the natural resources of other countries to be worried about some people of color living in horrific conditions. They don't care about the poverty in this country. The federal minimum wage is so low that none of us could survive on it. There are people right here in this country working two-three jobs to keep a sub-standard roof over the heads of their children.

    I feel you, MBM, about the global plight of the world, and it breaks my heart. I am a more of a "charity begins at home" kind of person and concentrate my efforts on attempting to improve the community in which I live. You don't have to leave your own city to see people who live in abject poverty. The richest nation in the world cares nothing about poverty regardless of where it exists.
    Do we (Western society) have any sense of morality at all about our fellow man? How can we sit in our houses, drive our SUV's, and get fat while most people on Earth are a meal or two away from starvation?

    You need morals first and I think everyone agrees that most politicans have none. It's hard for the "every day" working man/woman to look beyond their front yard as they/we are too busy keeping our head above water and trying to give our children/family the good things in life. Most of the middle class do give to some sort of charity, but its obvious its not enough.
    The geeks, boobs and crooks in the positions off power can just as easily allocate money to a worthy cause as they do to giving themselves a raise or pushing money to a BS cause such as "who in sports is on steroids"?
    I wonder how far the money wasted on this special commission could really go to helping people in our back yard?


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