Yesterday I made a post about The Big Divide- Rich and Poor. My friend Suji responded with a great comment on facebook:
I was confronted today by the reality of what the big divide means at street level…sydney siders going hungry because they can’t earn enough to pay their bills or feed themselves. Unacceptable!
I gave it some thought and responded with this comment:
Hey Suji, where was that? The sad thing is if you start looking around you can see that it is more prevalent than expected. The tragic thing in that circumstance is when people slip from a position of not enough money or food into a behavioural pattern where they accept that as the norm.
In my blog I was addressing more the distinction between what you have described (an ethical question: who is responsible- community, government, ‘the super-rich’, the individual) and those who have no choice or not even a chance of good policy to make a difference- those whose only certainty is to have filthy water, disease and dysfunctional governance.
I think that is unacceptable!
So much need. Where should we start? What do you think Suji?
I am not sure of exactly what Suji saw, but I believe it is an important point that she made. I was a little reluctant to share the next piece of information, but in the interests of an open discussion about poverty I think it is important: In the past, I have been in both situations that Suji described. Confronted by the reality of what the big divide means at street level. And at another time going hungry because I didn’t earn enough to pay my bills or feed myself. Not great admissions. Both unacceptable.
But what is it that is unacceptable? That it happens or the situation itself? Who is responsible? Is anyone responsible? Can we draw a comparison to those in extreme poverty?
Again, I would return to reframing the situation. As much as the situation is unacceptable here in Sydney, what is considerably worse are those 4,000 children dying of diarrhoea every day. Unacceptable because of filthy water, disease and dysfunctional governance.
To share more about myself, I have also been confronted with the bitter tragedy of infant mortality with the death of my brother’s young son, Zander, who lived a life measured in hours not years. I felt the grief that he and his wife experienced, and the implications this had for our family and friends.
I cannot fully comprehend what this would be like to occur on a larger scale with a horrible frequency. Sierra Leone in 2007 was recorded as having the highest rate of child mortality of 262 deaths per 1000 children under the age of five. That is completely unacceptable.
I promise you I will be thinking of how wrong these figures of child mortality are for every step of the 24,000 metres I will run for each of the 10 runs over the coming 30 days. 24,000 is the number of children over the age of five who die daily using data from 2008. How I wish it was a lot less, and not because I would prefer to run a shorter distance.
I am asking you to participate in the 10 City Bridge Run. This is not a spectator sport. If you are able, please sponsor me for $24.