In 2000 world leaders gathered at the United Nations to adopt the following goals:
Goal 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Goal 2: Achieve Universal Primary Education for Children
Goal 3: Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women
Goal 4: Reduce Child Mortality
Goal 5: Improve Maternal Health
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and Other Diseases
Goal 7: Ensure Environmental Sustainability
Goal 8: Create a Global Partnership for Development
All to be accomplished by 2015.
As I look at these goals I can't help but think about wealth and grace. I might miss a meal every now and again for scheduling reasons, but I do not know extreme hunger. The same goes for poverty. I have a job that not only pays a living wage, but also allows me to sit at a computer and blog about the MDGs. I am very educated, and if I have children someday I'll worry more about the quality of their education versus whether they have one available to them at all. My wife is a professional teacher and is moving up the educational career world. She exercises a great deal of power in a variety of forms. For goals Four and Five, my wife and I are insured by our employers and have access to prenatal vitamins and care. Relatively speaking these are at our finger tips. We took over seas trips this summer and it was quite easy for us to get anti-malaria medications for the trips. Plus, condoms can be bought just about anywhere from book stores to gift shops in the U.S. Again, health care at our finger tips. For goals seven and eight, once again, the tools for doing this are readily available for me to contribute to this process.
I am forced to ask myself why I deserve these things. Why do I have access to all these opportunities, care, and tools when Juancito, a boy I met in Nicaragua this summer, doesn't. Juan is five years old, has full blown aids, is deaf, and his family is in extreme poverty. What have I done to deserve any of this. What contribution have I made to deserve the education I have received, or the health care, or the money in my pocket? The answer is of course that I haven't and I do not deserve any of it. It would be tempting to say that I have been blessed by God to have these things, but that is dangerous. Do I really want to worship a God that capriciously blesses me and denies others without cause? The fact of the matter is that the fates of Juan and I are not solely affected by God they are also affected by the politics of the nations we live in. Because of the policies of my nation, the state of things in Juan's is dire. If I am going to be grateful, the act of accepting God's grace, for the things I have then I must ask why my nation prevents Juan's from flourishing. Furthermore since I am, by chance, a citizen of a nation that allows me to exercise my voice and political will then I must speak up and call for my nation not to thrive of the enslavement of other nations. Hence, why I blog today. I believe this onus is not just on me but on all of us to "love our neighbors as ourselves," to love as Christ first loved us. Then we must question how our societies are formed and engage our leaders to structure policy more justly. Hence, why I engage in community organizing.
Now, I'm not lifting my self up as somehow better because I think about the MGDs and act for a better world. There are a myriad of ways that I could be acting but am not. There is much more work that I could be doing on these issues, but I haven't yet done them. I merely wish to offer examples of ways that people can get involved. The collection of small actions joined together are powerful.
You can give money, you can lobby your leaders, you can talk to your friends and neighbors, you can think about how our smallest actions from buying groceries to how we cut our grass affects our neighbors. The goals will not be accomplished for us. They will only be achieved by us, by the faithful action of people who care about their neighbors near and far. Please get involved.