Count to three. I'm not joking; count to three. You know: "1, 2, 3"? In the time that it took you to do that, people died. Of curable diseases, of hunger, of AIDS, of poverty.
I am not making this up.
According to Tearfund:
"Currently, 2.6 billion people do not have access to basic sanitation and 1.1 billion people lack safe water. As a result 2.2 million children aged less than five die from diarrhoeal diseases each year. Women and children in poorer countries spend hours each day collecting and carrying water. The weight of water carried can be more than 25 kilograms."
So let's do the math. Just from lack of clean water: Two-point-two million divided by 365 days a year = 6,027 a day. Okay then divide that number by 24 for how many each hour (251). Then divide that by 60 for how man each minute (4). And that's just from a lack of water. That's not counting a lack of food or from disease.
That also doesn't count those killed in war, those who die from disasters, those who are killed in accidents, or those who take their own lives. That's just the folks who died each minute because they didn't have clean water to drink.
There has been a lot of press recently about the world food crisis. Most of us in the USA would probably not notice except if we tried to buy rice at Costco. But there is a real crisis out there. Some of it is out of our control - storms, El Nino, La Nina, earthquakes, droughts, etc.It even made the cover of Time Magazine.
But some of it - most of it - is under our control, or at least we can do something about it.
Currently, nearly one-half the world's population - 2.8 billion people - live on less than two dollars a day. Two dollars! I spent that on soda and pretzels; these people live on it. Another 800 million people go hungry every day!
Anyone want to go to McDonalds?
We worry about not being able to defend ourselves from terrorists (to the tune of 481 billion dollars this fiscal year to the Defense Department). We need to be more concerned about things much more basic - like the world starving outside our doors.
The debate about the rain forest and growing corn for fuel and the need for control on global warming is legitimate, but it skirts the real issue. The real problem is greed - a large part of the so-called crisis is caused by speculators hording food to drive the price up.
Trade liberalization policies - where the rich countries force the poor ones to open their markets to products from the developed world in order to receive aid from the World Bank or the International Monetary Fund - have decimated the subsidies that poor farmers got to help stabilize the prices for their products
As a result, the poorer countries are now dependent on imports rather than home grown. Which of course means farmers in the developing world can't sell their products at competitive prices because the imports are cheaper because they are more abundant. So people don't farm. So they might as well blow themselves up - but that's a few steps down the road.
The poor also suffer from climate change. They are the ones who have the least ability to cope with nasty weather, cyclones, floods, hurricanes, tsunamis, drought, or disease. The hundreds of thousands who perished in 2004 stand witness to the devastation that is "normal" for most people. They live in shacks or in poorly built houses, so when disaster strikes, they have no recourse. Disease follows - including cholera, typhoid, tetanus, and any number of other diseases.
And we wonder why the rest of the world seems to be turning anti-American? Maybe if we lived up to the motto of caring for the "tired, poor, hungry, teeming masses yearning to be free."
But we are often more worried about who won on American Idol.
I says this to my self as much as to anyone. A long time ago someone said to me "you are not responsible for what you do, you are responsible for what you KNOW." Jesus made a similar point. If you want the pants scared off you, read Matthew 25 about the sheep and the goats. The sheep were the ones who responded with the love of Christ to the poor, the naked, the hungry, the lonely, the stranger, and the prisoner. Jesus said "as much as you did it to the least of these my brethren, you did it to me." The goats got the same answer - but a much different result. Jesus called them cursed and said they were to go to the "eternal fire reserved for the devil and his angels."
So I guess who we really serve - what we really believe in - shows in our actions, not just our words.