May 9th, 2007

The Deprivation Disparity


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… [2]

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.

Such a course of action might be labeled by some as asceticism. I label it as my duty to God and my fellow brothers and sisters. It is a divine mandate, as President Hinckley once said:

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)

8 Responses to “The Deprivation Disparity”

  1. Aaron
    May 9, 2007 at 7:50 am #

    Nice post. This is a great attitude to have. It’s neat to be part of the Church, knowing that my donation to Fast Offerings will be combined with millions of dollars to help people world-wide, including my neighbors down the street sometimes. I thought of the law of consecration as I read your post. I also thought of Nibley’s saying, “Enough is enough.”

  2. Naiah
    May 9, 2007 at 8:10 am #

    Connor,
    Again your idealism is an inspiration.
    Thanks.

  3. Connor
    May 9, 2007 at 9:15 am #

    Aaron,

    I, too, loving being able to donate to the Church and know that the money is being used wisely.

    However, sometimes I like having a direct impact on another life instead of having my money go into a larger fund. Some of the organizations I highlight at the top of my blog allow you to do that.

    Naiah,

    Thanks. ::: blush ::: I’m just trying to inspire myself to be better. If others are impacted and inspired along the way, that’s awesome too! :)

  4. Kelly Winterton
    May 9, 2007 at 2:01 pm #

    The sum of $13 billion to feed the hungry of the world!

    How can we ever afford that when we’re fighting a war? That bill Bush just vetoed for Iraq was $124 billion.

    That means the war is costing us Americans ten times as much as it would cost us to feed and provide sanitation to the rest of the world.

    The “now free” Iraqis must be getting a lot of food and sanitation from us.

  5. Allthoseinfavormaydosoby...
    May 9, 2007 at 7:22 pm #

    You are so sweet…

  6. Josh Williams
    May 30, 2007 at 10:53 am #

    Like most of god’s blessings, wealth, and prosperity are always a double edged sword. A blessing, but also a terrible curse if we are not righteous or humble.

    A nation is only as great as it’s leaders. How I would, that all of America’s business and political leaders had your sense of conscience, Connor……

  7. Aaron
    November 1, 2007 at 2:33 pm #

    I thought I would spread the word. This title seemed good for me to post this.
    Upon thinking about all of the charities and poverty organizations out there, it doesn’t seem like any of them have a plan except to throw money at it, to end world poverty and inequatlity. But, I have recently found a foundation that proposes a plan. I had to tweek my mind a bit because i have been taught by example of everywhere in this world, greed, selfishness, servival of the fitest, etc.
    It is called the Worldwide United Foundation. http://www.wwunited.org.
    Consider reading and signing the decalaration. It will only work with the united voice of the the People.

  8. Alicia
    November 1, 2007 at 5:11 pm #

    I don’t quite agree with the Worldwide United Foundation’s declaration: “That every human thus given the respect and honor of being born into our world, and so-named equally by those here now, will be provided and guaranteed free food, shelter, clothing, health care (both physical and mental), and education, from the day of our birth to the day of our mortal death; and that as a united voice of the majority, we have full Power to demand these things from those who govern us, commanding them to establish international law to protect and enforce our will.”

    Wasn’t Adam told “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground”? Providing anyone with FREE ANYTHING has never worked. Even the Church suggests that those who need help find a way to ‘pay’ for those things they are given. Free education is not usually as appreciated as an education one has to work for. I’m not against helping those who can’t help themselves, I’m just saying that I don’t agree with this declaration – to force governments to provide for everyone, like we are all helpless children who can’t help each other – well, I think that’s the most important point to it all – we are sent here to learn to love each other and to give service to each other. We can’t just sit back and expect our government to do it. We all saw how they took care of things after Katrina. We also saw how the people who had been used to the government taking care of them reacted – not with gratitude to what WAS done for them, but with ANGER, because big Daddy Government hadn’t responded to ALL their needs.

    Has anyone heard the story of something that happened during Lincoln’s presidency – how someone lost his home and Lincoln used government funds to replace the home, and how one of his constituents told him that he wouldn’t vote for him for a second term because Lincoln had taken away that man’s neighbor’s rights and responsibilities to help their fellow man. And now don’t we all feel the same way when we see things happen like the fires in California – didn’t Bush just declare that he would help with the rebuilding of their homes? He makes me think, “Well, I don’t need to help I guess, because the government is going to do it.” And maybe I really wanted to help, but the government has taken my taxes and done it for me, and I don’t need to do anything at all……..

    I do think we can all do SO MUCH MORE. I was in China recently where there was so much poverty. It was SO SAD, and what little I gave was just a small little droplet in the huge overflowing bucket of what needs to be done.

    My husband, who is a bishop, said that he was so surprised at the low percentage of people who paid a full tithe, or who contributed in any way to any of the other items on the tithing slip…. People in the church could do a lot more.

    I think that before I would sign something like this, I would look a little harder for ways we can actually help (like donating heavily to programs like the church’s humanitarian fund), instead of demanding governments to take care of us.

Leave a Reply

Leave your opinion here. Please be nice. Your Email address will be kept private.