The dream is to end poverty globally by 2015. That's seven years from now. Seven years. I wonder about the reality of this on a global scale, until I remember that we can think globally but act locally.
A few days ago, I read an article in the LA Times which described how a homeless man, called John, was burned to death by an unknown assailant. John had been a fixture in the Beverly Wilshire District of Los Angeles for about 20 years. People fed him, took him once a week to get a shower, gave him cigarettes. They were kind to him. He was harmless, he was homeless, he was a face of poverty. Some punks decided to burn him up for whatever reason - anger? Hatred? Some bizarre gang initiation? Whatever it was, murdering John does nothing to eradicate poverty.
I had originally thought to write something else, but this climate of hatred, anger, fear and destruction is the root cause of poverty. Fear breeds a poverty of spirit; fear breeds a poverty of hatred; fear breeds the poverty of "otherness" that keeps us separate from one another. Fear causes us to lie, to hoard, to steal, to cheat, all in the name of getting ahead. Remember that bumper sticker that said "He who has the most toys wins"? The more stuff, the more money, marbles and chalk you have, theoretically, the better you were. Not true.
I'm not claiming that this murdered homeless man was a saint - he was homeless, he was apparently mentally ill. Yet he did not deserve to meet this horrific end. Nor do the people who have worked hard but are losing their homes deserve to be cast out on the street. People who have saved, only to see their savings wiped out by the banking crisis and Wall Street crash. Nobody deserves to have pain or tragedy come into their life - at the same time, everybody has an obligation to try and end this growing poverty.
Actions we can take are as simple as supporting local farms by going to local farmers markets; driving less, and walking more for short trips; recycling; using CFS bulbs; conserving water. We can also help by creating jobs - something along the lines of what FDR did when he created The New Deal, which created jobs for the unemployed, and regulated business and banking.
We have to act. We have to think of us as connected - not just in the USA, but to all people, in all nations. Let's make poverty history. Yes, we can.