Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Battle to Fight, part 2

I am a passionate person. Wait, let me back up. Let’s start here: I am not a reactionary person. I consider (almost) every word that comes out of my mouth carefully. I refuse to make assumptions about people. If you try to offend me or trash talk me or get in my head, I promise you that 99 times out of 100 you will fail. But back to my first statement: I am a passionate person (who wants to be more passionate and develop my passions). While it is difficult to get me fired up about day to day things – during a pickup basketball game, for example – there are certain topics that I care about deeply and will elicit emotion from me if brought up. Earlier this month I wrote about my need for a battle to fight; in the time before writing that piece and after, I have considered the things that create passion and emotion within me. I have written on some of these topics previously: the prevalence of divorce in our society, the dangers of marrying young, the monotony and waste of a white-collar life. However, the biggest passion I have discovered revolves around the rampant poverty which dominates much of this world.

I grew up in a middle class family, two parents and two siblings. We always had food on the table, never were in danger of losing our home, and my siblings and I were able to attend private schools. I have been able to live comfortably and safely, without any worry of being on the street or going hungry. The vast majority of people I consider to be my friends have a similar background. Many come from families with more money than my family has. This is not to say one family is better than another, or that coming from one background is better than another; rather, it is to explain where I have come from and to reveal something about my past.

Because I have never been in danger of going without, poverty was the furthest thing from my mind. Why think about something if it has nothing to do with you? Without question, it was a situation of ignorance being bliss. Once my eyes were opened to the problems and prevalence of poverty in this world, I began to wonder earnestly at how to fight this massive problem.

My education and future career revolve around the financial industry. Money is part of everything I do. As such, efficiency and proper use of resources is not only something I am being trained in, but something I care deeply about. I think this greatly impacts how I approach the issue of poverty, and it leads me to a handful of frustrations. Let me explain: we all understand how blessed we are to be living in a country that provides us with opportunity and freedom. We have access to food and water and shelter. In Africa, India, Vietnam, this is not the case. I believe that it is our duty as human beings to seek to improve the lives of other human beings, and to do so in as significant a way as possible. This brings me to the idea of wasting resources. When Solid Rock Church chooses to spend large amounts of money on rebuilding a giant statue of Jesus that serves nothing but vanity, I get fired up. Use that money to fight AIDS in Africa, or to improve the economy in Afghanistan. When I see countless youth groups and others taking short term missions trips and spending more money on travel and sightseeing than on the people they are going to “serve”, I get fired up. Do mission work in your community, and send the monetary resources down to used most efficiently. (I want to write more on these issues in the future...now is not the time.)

I am constantly thinking of ideas and plans for how to make dents into the problem of poverty, but many of these cannot and will not be realized until I am a much older person or because I have no idea how to implement them. I need to find ways to make an impact now and in the near future. Thousands of individuals die each day from starvation. I have an obligation to fight for their right to live another day. And so on. I know that I am not the first nor the last to want to wage war on poverty. I certainly am not the most passionate or knowledgeable about the subject. However, I am determined to find a way to at least dent the problem. I am discovering that this may be the battle I am supposed to fight. The passion I have is certainly no accident, and I refuse to ignore it. I do not know what the next step is, but I am looking for it.

I have a great deal more to say about this subject; this post is only skimming the surface of what I believe and what I want to say. One thing I have realized about myself is that while I do not have the answers, I have more than enough questions. If my purpose is to ask the questions, I will continue to ask them in earnest. Perhaps my questions will spark someone else to find the answers. I do not know if this will happen, I can only hope. And hope, dirty or not, is the most important thing I can hold onto. If we choose to act in the name of truth, consequences be damned, I believe we can make a difference.

And so on…


  1. I like this post a lot. I'd like to encourage you to remember that, although it is different, there is poverty in the US. I too care about poverty all over the world, and it often looks more severe in other places. Indeed, when a government cannot even offer programs to help some hungry children in countries such as Rwanda, there is HUGE reason for concern and action.
    Right now, neither of us can go to another country to help raise up indigenous leaders for the long-term. But we can learn about how to help other countries, as well as our own, both financially, and through social capital.I have a few book recommendations: The Bottom Billion by Paul Collier; The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs; Just Generosity by Ron Sider. The first two of these books are on international problems with poverty, the last is on US poverty. If you have time, check one of them out.

  2. Very true and something I care deeply about, and confess I don't know much about at the same time. But I am planning on reading a book this summer called "When Helping Hurts". It's been getting recognition over the country.. but actually two professors who teach at my college wrote it. Apparently it's brilliant... check it out!

  3. I just placed my orders for The End of Poverty by Sachs and When Helping Hurts on Amazon. Can't wait to get them and dive in. Thanks for the tips!