Franklin D. Roosevelt argued “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much, it is whether we provide enough to those who have too little“.
Bill Shore in his book The Cathedral Within writes: “The paradox of our time is that while wealth is being created at unprecedented levels, it is not reaching those in greatest need. If anything, it has created a complacency, a comfort with the status quo, an assumption that a rising tide will lift all boats.” The tragedy is that prosperity masks extreme poverty. This is why bridges are necessary – as much as for us to see what needs exist as much as for those who need help.
Is it worth asking whether we have have gone too far in the commodifying ‘doing good’ such that we see charity as a noun (an organisation) and not as it should be regarded which is a verb (the action of helping others in preference to our own needs)?
Citizen engagement is the new philanthropy. Philanthropy is not necessarily only in the giving of money. Civil society is the difference that makes a difference. We should return to philanthropy’s original meaning as ‘love of humankind’. We have a lot more we can each contribute through our time and talents.
There are no shortage of problems in our lives and in the world. Caring about one problem does not need to occur at the exclusion of others as well. Consider that building a bridge to improve the lives of millions can enrich our own lives through serving the needs of others far outweighing any cost to ourselves.
The need to address child mortality ought to be self-evident to us all. Caring for those people on the planet who have no voice, choice or influence on where and when they are born into extreme disadvantage. Just in case you need further argument, here are 10 reasons why we should care:
- Decent thing to do. Caring for other humans on the planet who are in need.
- Humanitarian intervention. It is wrong to allow suffering when it is within our ability to prevent it occurring at no disadvantage to ourselves.
- Avoids population crisis. All evidence shows that a reduction of child mortality also reduces birth rate, which also reduces the potential of an unsustainable population size in the coming decades.
- Improved environment. Many deaths are caused from simple reasons such as poor water supply and sanitation. To reduce child mortality requires an improvement to disgraceful environmental conditions.
- Preventing disease epidemics. Malaria remains one of the largest killers of children across the world. Improved prevention of disease leads to reduced child mortality. Vigilance against epidemics far worse than malaria is important for everyone.
- Maternal health. 350,000 women will die in labor each year, with most of these deaths occurring in the region defined as sub-Saharan Africa. Reducing child mortality leads to a reduction in birth rate, which lessens pressure on already inadequate medical services and leads to an improvement in maternal health.
- Female education. There is a direct relationship between birth rate, child mortality and female education. Improving female education, which remains at outrageously unacceptable low levels in many countries, results in the reduction of birth rate and child mortality through better care of babies.
- Extremist views. We can only imagine the impact a high child mortality must have in creating a sense of injustice, creating a ripe potential to be exploited by extremist and radical militant groups. This is a time bomb we must diffuse more out of compassion than through a pursuit of our own security.
- Moral responsibility through mining and trade. Many mining interests take place in some of the resource rich countries that ironically experience among the highest rates of poverty. Mining companies are businesses, not charities, but it could be argued that it is in their shareholders direct interests to ensure the best conditions exist for business operations through sound civil order.
- Partnerships. Reducing child mortality requires closer partnerships, which generate other benefits for us all.
Let the dataset change your mindset. This is a question of urgency. We can influence child mortality, but it will require action and not just talk.