Notes from Richard Eyre:
I'm on a plane back from a two-day conference on Borderless Giving under the auspices of the Global Philanthropy Forum at Stanford. The conference, among other things, has reminded me of the ever-widening gap between this world's rich and poor and made me reflect on some of the things that have happened on the planet during my adult lifetime.
A. In the sixties as I started college and had my first personal stirrings of global awareness, we had the Beatles, and we had three billion people on the earth. Now there are six billion and the gap between rich and poor, which was narrowing until the mid-eighties, has now been progressively widening for twenty years. Half of the people on the planet live in mud huts or shanty town shacks and sleep on dirt floors or on the streets.
B. During that same last twenty years, twenty-four million people have died of AIDS (nineteen million in Africa and forty-two million people now are living with HIV). The ratio of HIV is as high as one in four people in some African countries and there are fourteen million AIDS orphans in the world, street kids who have lost both parents to AIDS. (This is the equivalent to all the children in the U. S. under five years old.)
C. About one billion of Heavenly Father's six billion children on the world live in abject poverty, on less than a dollar per day (70 percent of Africa is in this condition) and go to bed hungry every night. Half of these (500 million) are literally starving to death. Forty thousand children die every day and their five biggest killers are dehydration, diarrhea, malaria, malnutrition, and measles.
D. Before the end of the cold war, many of the poorest of the poor were socially subsidized with some food and health care since there were more socialist governments and a form of competition between the two powers. Now, with more cash-based economies, more of the poor have nothing but the pittance they can earn.
E. Thirty-two countries are currently in the midst of war and civil strife that further undermines the chances of poor people. Fourteen of the world's twenty poorest countries exist today in conditions of war and civil strife. In many of these (Columbia, Angola, Chechnia, Sri Lanka, etc.) war has been ongoing for decades.
F. The U. S. gives a lower percentage of its wealth or GNP to help the poor than any other developed nation. And of the very large amount of private giving that occurs in this country, only two percent goes outside our borders.
G. So much private and philanthropic money in this country is tied up in huge endowment funds that stay untouched and untapped with just the interest going to help good "causes." This is a little like having a great, powerful horse, but keeping him in a pasture, never used and never ridden, and just collecting and spreading his manure around to help things grow.
Thoughts/Questions for future discussion
A Fable- Once there was an Island