I’m reading this really interesting book by Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty.
In it he describes a trip to Malawi and visiting a hospital where hundreds of people are literally stacked up in a ward as they lay there dying of AIDS because they cannot afford the dollar per day lifesaving medicine.
I’m watching the news this week and seeing the devastation wrecked by earthquakes that continues to erupt in Nepal and surrounding parts of India. Impoverished people barely subsisting before and now losing everything, including life, as leaders struggle to get resources where they’ll do the most good.
I’m sitting at lunch yesterday listening to a fellow Rotarian share about his trip this week to the Philippines to help bring relief in the wake of a devastating typhoon.
I’m thankful for those who seek to bring relief to the poor throughout the world. I often wonder if I shouldn’t be joining them.
I’m driving to work this morning through a neighborhood near the shelter, a route I’ve driven hundreds of times. Sitting on the side of the road is a woman I’ve also seen hundreds of times but haven’t really noticed. She’s huddled up shaking from the obvious signs of addiction withdrawal. I wonder what it’ll take to save her life, if her life will be saved. I can almost see this woman, in her present condition, transported to Malawi, or the Philippines, or Nepal. Would her situation be better or worse? Would she be noticed more or less? I have no idea.
What I do know is that there is suffering around the world, including right here in our own backyards. I also know that the resources, wisdom, and desire to address these issues exist. There are smart people in this world, like Jeffrey Sachs, who have figured out what needs to be done to save lives, alleviate suffering, and reduce poverty. I’ve heard it so many times now that I don’t know who to credit this saying but on a local, national, and global scale we don’t have a resource problem, we have a priority problem.
I still have this guilt, maybe its desire, to go to Malawi, or the Philippines, or Nepal to help in some small way bring relief to extremely poor people who face severe poverty, devastation, and death in ways I can hardly comprehend. Then, as I pull into the parking lot at the shelter, I think about the woman sitting on the road in my own backyard and I know what I’m going to do today.