Global Poverty

Poverty is the result of economic injustice. The massive presence of global poverty indicates that our economic systems do not distribute wealth in a fair and equitable way. It is a fact that these economic and political systems both create and perpetuate poverty. Poverty is a creation of human beings, so by addressing problems in the economic system we should be able to eliminate poverty. The principle of Social Justice is firmly rooted in the Biblical message of the prophets, of Jesus, and also of The Qur’an. The National Conference of Catholic Bishops state that, Central to the Biblical presentation of justice is that the justice of a community is measured by the way society responds to the needs of the poor through its public policies as the litmus test of its justice or injustice. According to the Catholic Bishops, a just society is a society that pays attention to the poor and the causes of poverty, and strives to take care of its poorest, weakest, and most marginalized members.

It is clear that discriminatory economic systems and policies, as they have developed, have perpetuated the poverty of the 3rd world, a poverty that originates with Colonialism. Wherever we see poverty, we are witness to social injustice and a society that is failing those of its members wo are living in poverty. This is not a problem of the individual, it is not that a person can “pick themselves up by their own bootstraps.” Put on a pair of boots and try to lift yourself off the ground by your bootstraps. Its impossble, just as I’d challenge you to point to any person who succeeds in life completely on her own & without any help from supportive parents, teachers, mentors, guides, or social programs designed to lend a helping hand. The truth is, nobody makes it on their own, everyone needs the assistance, inspiration, and encouragement of others. Thus, it is not reasonable to demand that every person must sink or swim of their own accord, because some have advantges and privileges that others do not. It’s easier for a white male from an upper middle class ennvironment to afford a good University education and have the connections and training that can lead to lucrative career opportunities, than it is for an African-American male from an urban ghetto to have the same opportunities and advantages easily within his grasp. We know for a fact that he doesn’t. To claim that he still should be left to fend for himself is to agree to a system that is inherenttly discriminatory against the African-American, a system that is structured to keep him, and his peers, poor and disadvantaged. Is there a moral imperative, then, for a society to find ways to provide the kind of help needed to allow the poorest and most underprivileged to find paths to success?

(a) Global poverty is extreme, with about 2 billion people living on less than $2/day. What is it like living in such extreme poverty? What would your daily life be like if you were that poor? How would poverty affect your health, and how would it affect your ability to seek self-actualization (like getting a higher education)?

(b) Imagine your family of 5 lives in a dirt floor shack 10 feet by 15 feet, with a leaky roof like many in Haiti do. You do not have running water or electricity, or even access to clean water. What woud it be like, in a tropical climate, to live in such conditions? What do you imagine your biggest struggles would be?

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