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OUR VIEW: Hunger and poverty are our problems

An Editorial Opinion

Published: Thursday, February 21, 2013

Updated: Thursday, February 21, 2013 13:02

 

The world isn’t fair. On Wednesday, students and community members gathered in the TSC Ballroom for the Annual Hunger Banquet. Only a fraction were able to eat a three-course meal in comfort, while most sat on the floor and ate rice and beans. For most of us, visual representations of the world’s economic disparity interrupt our lives only once every few months. According to a World Bank study, at least 80 percent of Earth’s population lives on less than $10 a day.

We thank STEP and organizations like it for bringing the issue home. Visual representations are often more powerful than statistics, and it’s good to remember that many parts of the world are impoverished. Many people — regardless of their home country — don’t eat regular meals.

We don’t want to be that person at the party, but conversations about poverty really put our complaints in perspective. This winter, Logan has been cold at times. Much colder than last year, but not out of the ordinary. Still, we’ve all complained about leaving our gas-heated homes to start the defrosters in our cars, so we can drive to university. The number of opportunities and conveniences mentioned in the previous sentence alone is something to be thankful for. A global perspective doesn’t mean we should all live in poverty but brings greater appreciation for the thousands of comforts and advantages we don’t really think about.

Although the issues aren’t exactly the same, the wealth divide between developed countries and the rest of the world parallels the divide between the wealthy and middle class in the U.S. But can we really protest Wall Street millionaires if we don’t share what we have? We may not be the 1 percent, but many of us are the 20 percent. If a middle-class American doesn’t help in some way, he’s different from a millionaire in circumstance but not sentiment.

We don’t all have to leave our jobs to be humanitarians, but we don’t have to leave charitable giving to Bill Gates, either. Thousands of people are already combating poverty, famine and lack of clean water across the globe, and they could always use more resources. A little research brings up dozens of good organizations — Futures for Children, Action Against Hunger, the Global Hunger Project, Oxfam-America and Save the Children, to name only a few. A donation to a well-chosen humanitarian organization can help families develop access to food, water and the other basic commodities of life.

Charitable giving isn’t the only way to help, either. Decreasing unnecessary consumption of electricity, water and food puts us in a better position to help others and ensure commodities are more affordable in our own communities. Buying fair trade products sends the message that you care about the treatment of workers, even if they’re halfway across the globe.

The world isn’t fair, but we don’t have to like it that way.

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