Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Upon Closer Inspection...

So I've decided to participate in Blog Action Day 2008 - this year's theme is poverty. As per usual, I'm a little late to the game, which is code for "I learned about this opportunity yesterday...". Never the less, I am very happy and excited to participate in such an important endeavor. Thousands of blogs, across the globe, using their fields of expertise and personal voice to shed light on a topic that, quite frankly, has some of the pre-eminant thinkers and leaders of modernity stumped. Maybe not as to how we have created such a drastic divide between wealth and poverty - God knows that there has been enough finger-pointing in that regard - but stumped on how to elevate the station of the poor....
Well, you can imagine that if the eminant (pre or otherwise) are having a hard time putting their minds around something of this magnitude, that I was having a hard time doing the same - and all in 24 little hours. The conclusion I've come to is that I don't understand poverty. I know what it is to sacrifice and to do without - but, largely, these are choices that I make. I am afforded the liberty, because of my status as an educated woman from middle-class America, of deciding what it that I will sacrifice: time, comfort, money, etc. So what I mean by telling you that I don't understand poverty is that I don't understand what it is to have these decisions of sacrifice made by the reality of my circumstances.
I think, that if you've read my blog before (a hearty welcome if you haven't), that you will notice a trend: I find it insufficient - in terms of social responsibility, and in order to - quite frankly - stop wasting time - to simply find problems. What is needed are solutions, and this requires action. If you are not already familiar with its devastating, debilitating, and demoralizing effects, I won't ask you to familiarize yourselves with poverty - but I do ask that you consider, and carefully so, what I am about to share with you.
About 2 months ago I had the opportunity to hear Dr. Farzam Arbab, member of the Universal House of Justice, speak about his considerable experience in the field of Social and Economic Development. In the course of his presentation, Dr. Arbab asked that we - the participants - learn to tell the difference between information and propaganda and other forms of disinformation. Perhaps the single greatest thing that we can do as a people in this generation is to learn to be truly openminded and free thinkers. To investigate to the fullness of our ability the information, art, objects, products and ideas we encounter. Learn to be a wise consumer, not to the point of asceticism, but truly make a point to learn all that you can for yourself. In this way we will have informed and conscientious people of action coming to their own conclusions about how to aleviate poverty in their own unique circle of influence. We will start to realize that, like this initial global discourse on poverty, individual initiative is as necessary as collective cooperation.
I leave you with this final thought, which I fully urge you to consider freely and objectively, from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh:

"Know ye that the poor are the trust of God in your midst. Watch that ye betray not His trust, that ye deal not unjustly with them and that ye walk not in the ways of the treacherous. Ye will most certainly be called upon to answer for His trust on the day when the Balance of Justice shall be set, the day when unto every one shall be rendered his due, when the doings of all men, be they rich or poor, shall be weighed. "
- Bahá'u'lláh

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