What do history's most notorious despots have in common with many of the flag-waving, patriotic politicians of our day? Both groups rise to power through the exploitation of fear, which has become a societal plague. There have been widespread casualties. We need an antidote. Feardom offers its readers a much-needed immunization.
photo credit: bambino333
I live in relative opulence.
Others live abject poverty.
I always have plenty to eat, a comfortable bed, a washing machine and dishwasher, and hot water for bathing.
Others have nothing to eat, sleep on the ground, never wash their one outfit, don’t have or need dishes and utensils, and bathe in the local river if they’re lucky enough to have access to one.
This disparity has increasingly nagged at me for some time. I imagine that it will be even more powerful and real when I return from Africa.
Why such injustice among God’s children exists here on Earth I will perhaps never know with certainty until I can ask Heavenly Father in person. In the mean time we have been counseled to strive for temporal equality.
Am I doing my part?
Do I really need to eat out as much as I do? Do I need to go see Spiderman 3? Do I need a new pair of jeans as badly as I think I do?
Can I look at myself in the mirror (another simple luxury that many do not have) and feel the Lord’s approval in my humanitarian efforts? Especially in light of some of these statistics?:
- Half the world — nearly three billion people — live on less than two dollars a day.
- The richest 50 million people in Europe and North America have the same income as 2.7 billion poor people. “The slice of the cake taken by 1% is the same size as that handed to the poorest 57%.”
- According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty.
- A mere 12 percent of the world’s population uses 85 percent of its water.
- Less than one per cent of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000.
- To satisfy the world’s sanitation and food requirements would cost only US$13 billion- what the people of the United States and the European Union spend on perfume each year.
- See more… 
Am I doing enough? I can’t change the world, but I can make a difference. Helen Keller taught this truth well when she said:
I am only one; but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do. (Helen Keller, via Quoty)
This increasingly polarized disparity requires immediate, individual action. I must continue to change my life and abandon the consumerism that plagues our society. I must deprive myself of certain wants so that others may have an opportunity to survive.
We hope that through the payment of liberal fast offerings there will be more than enough to provide for the needs of the less fortunate. If every member of this church observed the fast and contributed generously, the poor and the needy—not only of the Church, but many others as well, would be blessed and provided for. Every giver would be blessed in body and spirit, and the hungry would be fed, the naked clothed according to need.
Now, brethren and sisters, I invite you to look beyond the narrow boundaries of your own wards and rise to the larger vision of this, the work of God. We have a challenge to meet, a work to do beyond the comprehension of any of us—that is, to assist our Heavenly Father to save His sons and daughters of all generations, both the living and the dead, to work for the salvation not only of those in the Church, but for those presently outside, wherever they may be. No body of people on the face of the earth has received a stronger mandate from the God of heaven than have we of this Church. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Rise to a Larger Vision of the Work)
Certainly it is not a sin to enjoy life and use hard-earned money for entertainment and creature comforts. I’m not trying to say that I’m going to shrink my wardrobe to one outfit and go live in a tent in the mountains. My main responsibility is to provide for myself (and my future family). However, once my basic needs are met, there is so much I can do to help others!
Love is one of the leading characteristics of Deity, and ought to be manifested by those who aspire to be the sons of God. A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone but ranges through the world, anxious to bless the whole of the human family. (Joseph Smith, via Quoty)
I stand with Helen Keller to say “I cannot do everything, but still I can do something. I will not refuse to do the something I can do”.
Our motives are not selfish; our purposes not petty and earthbound; we contemplate the human race—past, present, and yet to come—as immortal beings, for whose salvation it is our mission to labor; and to this work, broad as eternity and deep as the love of God, we devote ourselves, now and forever. (First Presidency, “An Address to the World,” Conference Report, Apr. 1907)