Blog Action Day 2008: Poverty

I thought it would be really easy to find out what percentage of the world’s population subsists on less than $1USD a day. It’s one of the UN Millenium Development Goals, in fact, to halve that number. Everything I Google, though, wants to divide it out by continent, or by country.

74% of Zimbabwe’s people live on less than $1USD value from 2004. Yes, okay, that’s a lot of people. In one country. The poverty line for folks in the US is $26.10USD. That’s interesting. Not what I need.

Finally, a hard number, from 2001:

As of 2001, 1.1 billion people, or 21% of the 2001 world population, had incomes less than the World Bank’s ‘$1 a day’ line for extreme poverty. 2.7 billion people had incomes less than the World Bank’s ‘$2 a day’ line for poverty.

The numbers seem huge, too huge to do anything about. I’m sucking down a $2USD cup of coffee right now as I write this. Do I salve my conscience with the fact it’s direct trade?

Well, yeah. I’m only human.

I can’t stop there, though. I can’t stop with a warm fuzzy feeling because I spent the extra money and got the slightly-more ethically correct coffee. I’m a Christian. Jesus has this annoying habit of telling people to sell everything and give the money to the poor.

I haven’t quite gotten to that point yet. But I am looking at what I own and what I don’t need. I’m looking at my money and determining exactly how much I need to survive. I’m stretching myself to give as much as I can.

Last year, as much as I could give was only a few dollars. There’s an interesting phenomenon I’ve noticed, though, about practicing giving.

It becomes easier.

The $2 cups of coffee go from once a day to once a week. The cable package becomes smaller. There’s more beans than beefsteak in the fridge.

Looking for something to do now?
Feed America
Episcopal Relief and Development
United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund


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