Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day 2008 - Poverty

Ten thousand bloggers writing about the same theme at the same time. Like many really good ideas, it is simple. Have enough people thinking about the same issue at the same time and you can change the world. Ten thousand bloggers. Ten million readers. Brilliant. Thank you Blog Action Day.

I know very little of poverty. But silent is no answer, so I will tell you what I remember.

I remember picking apples as a child, the trees in the garden so heavy with them that I knew we could never eat them all. Hauling boxes of apples to throw on the compost heap. Watching images of famine on the news.

I remember travelling in the Far East. Eating tinned fish and bowls of rice because it was the cheapest way to keep going. But knowing all the time that people would lend me extra if it ever got to be too difficult. I had resources back in Britain, I was good for the loan.

I remember the founder of the Land Bank of Bangladesh explaining that traditional banks only loan you money if you already have money, and that uncounted millions lived in poverty for want of credit.

I remember some friends from down the street. A man, a woman and four children. No carpet. No job. Little furniture except for a big television in the corner of the room. Depressed and in poor health. No belief that they could ever achieve anything from their own volition. Waiting for help.

I remember manning a display on the seafront at Aberystwyth during a peace campaign. The stall just along from mine had the slogan: “When people starve it isn’t for want of food, it is for want of justice”.

I remember seeing a woman in North Africa on a television program. She was living in a corrugated iron shack with three children. She had no backup. No one to bail her out if things went wrong. She was thanking God for all the bounties He had given her.

I remember reading about Abdul Baha’s years of grinding poverty, persecution, exile and imprisonment. After release from prison (following the Young Turk’s Revolution) Abdul’Baha lived in service to the poor. He grew food for them, provided health care for them, helped them to get work, gave them money if they could not work, gave them the clothes from His body. And I remember being hugged by a man who was hugged by Abdul Baha. I felt that hug.

So, please, today, remember the poor.

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