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Thursday, 18 August 2005


by Jim Jordal

"For half the world's population the brutal reality is this: You'd be better off as a cow. The average European cow receives $2.20 a day from the taxpayer in subsidies and other aid. Meanwhile, 2.8 billion people in developing countries around the world live on less than $2 a day."

Charlotte Denny, economic correspondent for The Guardian, quoted in Sojourner's Magazine, July, 2005.

"Four hundred and ninety-seven billionaires hold as much wealth as 57 percent of the world's population. If these 497 people would share 5 percent of their wealth, all the basic needs of the world could be covered. We wouldn't have a child dying every 5 seconds."

German theologian Ulrich Duchrow, quoted by Rose Mary Berger in Sojourner's Magazine, July, 2005.

For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah His delightful plant. Thus He looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, a cry of distress. Woe to those who add house to house and join field to field, until there is no more room, so that you have to live alone in the midst of the land!

Isaiah 5:7-9 (NASB)

More money is spent per day to care for European cows than is received in income by one-half of the world's people. Some animals receive better care than do many people. Pets receive nutritious food, inoculations for disease, protection against fleas and ticks, dry places to sleep, and many other benefits denied to 2.8 billion people. And farm animals get even better care because of their value as productive resources.

So why are some animals more valuable in monetary terms than are many people? An economist might make the point that farm animals produce needed food and are therefore valuable and worth spending money on, while most of the world's desperate people produce nothing--at least nothing of great value outside their own limited economy. And besides, there's a somewhat limited supply of productive farm animals, but not of people.

Are people worth more than animals? Not if you consider only productivity, market efficiency, costs and benefits. I think Scripture has it right when it charges Babylon, or world systems in opposition to God, with merchandising a long list of valuables, least of which are the souls of men (Rev. 18:11-13).

World poverty is especially troubling since it now appears that for the first time in human history the world has enough wealth so that no one needs to be poor. We have the resources to deal with poverty, but we lack the will. So world poverty continues, with about a billion people living in desperate poverty, or less than a dollar per person per day, and 2.8 billion living in poverty, or $2 per day or less.

Where is justice, mercy, compassion or what have you when some 50,000 people per day, especially children in sub-Saharan Africa, die simply from being poor? And the industrialized world marches on, amassing fortunes built too often on trade and financial policies that continue to oppress the poor.

As I write this, leaders of the Group of Eight (G-8) industrialized nations (Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, United States, Canada, and Japan) meet in consultation at Scotland's five-star Gleneagles golf resort, protected from protesters by 5 miles of fencing and thousands of police. Their agenda, pushed largely by British Prime Minister Tony Blair and chancellor of the exchequer Gordon Brown, is debt relief and increased aid to Africa plus the threat of global warming.

On July 2 live audiences estimated at 25 million persons and a television audience estimated at 2 billion watched the Live 8 rock concerts in all the G-8 nations. These performances, featuring such stars of Madonna, U-2, and a reunited Pink Floyd (if you don't know who these are, don't worry about it). What is significant is not the concerts or the performers, but the fact that Bono, lead singer of U-2, and producer Bob Geldof organized these concerts with the single goal of promoting debt relief and increased foreign aid for Africa by focusing world attention on the coming G-8 summit.

I wonder why it is that persons not known for religious faith can view the disaster of world poverty and do something about it, while many Christian churches and their somnambulant parishioners seem more concerned with social activities and the raising of money than with acting on the thousands of Bible references detailing God's will concerning poverty and its causes?

How long will European cows receive better care than half of the world's people? Not much longer! The winds of justice blow stronger each year as common people the world over begin to realize that poverty, oppression, financial slavery, and the never-ending search for wealth are decried by Almighty God, who has both the will and the resources to do something about the situation. Poverty is a moral issue, ranking at least as high as family values and sexual purity. It's time that the Christian church realizes this.




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