February 22, 2012

Raising a Red Flag

Poverty is one of those high priority, red flag issues.

Poverty is an economic issue.  More than being only about the financial plight of those experiencing poverty, it is a financial issue for everyone.  It costs all of us more to live with poverty in our society than it does to eradicate it.  For example, recently Action to End Poverty in Alberta and Vibrant Communities Calgary issued a report called "Poverty Costs" that determined it currently costs Albertans between $7.1 - $9.5 Billion each year in perpetuation of poverty that could be better spent towards reduction of poverty.  "Poverty Costs" Report

Poverty is a social issue.  As a consequence of poverty, significant portions of the population effectively become second rate citizens due to unequal access with respect participating in society.  This inequality is exacerbated due to the untruths, stigma and myths propagated regarding those living in poverty.  Contrary to popular misconception, most people in poverty are not lazy bums in the street.  They are single parents, seniors, working poor, people with disabilities, and much more.  Except for a good break here or a blessing there, it could be any one of us who finds themselves in dire circumstances.  Turning again to Alberta, Canada's richest province per capita, almost 300,000 people find themselves in poverty (i.e. nearly 10% of the population), including 73,000 children.  And, of course, there are at least as many individuals and families hovering within an all too easy reach of poverty.

Poverty is a justice issue.  Access to food, clean water, and shelter are basic human rights.  In order for each of us to stand a chance of reaching our potential, we should also add education, basic health care, and sanitation to this list.  Of course, this is not new as many of these are specifically enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as well as codified through a variety of laws.  To have one's basic rights unsatisfied, as is the case for those in poverty, is an injustice of the highest order.

Poverty is a spiritual issue.  Our society is founded upon Judeo-Christian values, a central tenet of which is compassion for those in need.  Of course, all major faiths as well as many schools of thought outside of religious traditions have compassion as a foundational element.  According to these traditions and schools of thought, as members of the human family each of us has some connection, and thereby some responsibility, to the basic well being of others.

Poverty is a moral issue.  Our world has the resources to eradicate poverty.  In the developed world, as described above with respect to Alberta, it often costs less to eliminate poverty than it does to service it.  In the developing world, it has been estimated that everyone could have enough food, health care, clean water and education for an additional cost equivalent to less than 10% of what the world spends annually on military. Katherine Marshall (Senior Fellow at the Berkley Centre for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs) has recently described poverty as the "scandal of our times because it can be changed."

We need to make poverty a political issue.  Nothing will change unless our government is responsive to the needs of the most vulnerable.  Whether we like it or not, the fact remains that our elected leaders must be on board in order to bring about the circumstances for poverty elimination.  For all of the above reasons, we need to let our representatives know that poverty is a priority issue.  Poverty is also a non-partisan issue.  Regardless of our respective political leanings, we need to encourage our government to adopt a poverty reduction strategy.  Case studies in other jurisdictions have proven that poverty reduction only happens when a plan is adopted.  Let's raise our voices to eradicate poverty.  It will benefit all of us.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders

February 17, 2012

We Can Be Heroes

What does it take to be a hero?  Super powers?  A cape and cool tights?  A catchy nickname?

None of these.  All it takes to be a hero is to put your compassion into action.  Every time you speak up on behalf of someone who is vulnerable or in need or do something to help someone you join the ranks of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and many others.  You're a hero.

The following video focuses on the need in the Horn of Africa, but really the message is much bigger.  You'll see two distinct sets of responses to the question of what you would do if someone needs you.  The first group . . . a massively underwhelming.  The second group . . . incredibly inspiring.

Check out these links . . .

Hey!!  I'm that Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

February 7, 2012

We Have A Choice

At one time, the world didn't have the resources and technology to eliminate poverty. Scarcity ruled the day, and people and governments made decisions based upon this mindset.

Now we have enough resources and technology to eliminate poverty.  However, we still have poverty . . . lots of it . . . and in some places it's growing.  Why?  Because we're still operating according to a scarcity mindset, and we erroneously resign ourselves to poverty being a fact of life.  That's right . . . what once was correct is now wrong.

We have a choice.  It starts with changing our mindset and recognizing that there is enough for all to have a decent, dignified standard of living.  Once we acknowledge that no one has to be in poverty, we then need to adjust our systems to reflect the new mindset.  To do so effectively, we need a preventative poverty reduction strategy.  A plan.  We can choose to implement strategies to protect people from falling into poverty, and helping people get back on their feet if they do trip up.  It's all a matter of priorities.

The following video was released today in conjunction with a brand spanking new report about poverty in Alberta, Canada's most prosperous province and a place where poverty is increasing due to the growing income inequality.  While the numbers deal specifically with Alberta, the situation being described exists in many places and the message is pertinent to wherever such exists.

(including getting a full copy of the report)

We have enough resources and know-how to eradicate poverty.  The only question remaining is . . . do we care enough?  I think we do, but it's not enough to simply care.  We have to put that compassion into action.  We have to align our priorities with our values.  For any compassionate society there is no greater priority than the well being and dignity of its most vulnerable citizens.

Hey!! I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

Click Here to See WHAT YOU CAN DO

Click Here to Sign . . . A Declaration to World Leaders