Editorial: Let Us Pay
by Kevin Sims
Let Us Pay
The issue of debt relief is big news at the moment. The world’s richest countries are being persuaded to give more aid to the poorest nations and to cancel the debts that have built up over the years. On the surface it seems simple, doesn’t it? Those with great riches can give some of the excess to those who have less than nothing. Of course, in reality it’s a lot more complicated. The rich countries have their budgets in place and any changes will have knock-on effects on their own citizens.
Well, having seen some of the conditions in parts of the developing world, I have a well-reasoned, articulate response for people living in the world’s rich nations – tough! If the cost of my luxury items goes up to help fund the shortfall in interest from countries who spend more on debt repayments than on education and healthcare combined then I say, ‘Great, here’s my money.’
I realise I have been fortunate to grow up in a country where, on the whole, good living conditions are available to all. Healthcare, education, clean water are all mine for the asking. In a way, anything else can be viewed as a bonus. But what if I had been born elsewhere? For too many of the world’s people, things I take as basics are luxuries they can only dream about – and all because they were born in the wrong place.
The article in this issue from Tanzania shows clearly the struggles some of the world’s poorest people face. Education can provide a way out of poverty – but the poor can’t afford an education and the poorest countries can’t afford to provide free education. In Tanzania The Salvation Army is addressing this problem but it’s just a drop in the ocean. My two sons will get to make the most of their abilities because of where they live – not because they deserve it more than anyone else.
As a Christian, I believe the Church must stand up and fight for the world’s poorest people. In the face of thousands of deaths every day, it seems a bit petty to complain about how some governments may spend the money saved from cancelled debts. Perhaps we need to look again at the Bible’s account of Jesus and the rich young ruler. When Jesus told this good man to sell all he had and give the proceeds to the poor I’m not aware he added, ‘But make sure they spend it on something useful!’
With easy air travel and the Internet, this is an ever-shrinking world. When you consider the amount of resources wasted by rich countries it seems obscene that poverty takes the lives of 50,000 people a day – people who, in this small world, are almost near enough to touch.
‘Love your neighbour as yourself’ is one of Jesus’ most-quoted sayings. And what better way to love our international neighbours than by telling our leaders we want to send poverty the way of smallpox? An injection of funds now could be a massive step to making poverty yesterday’s problem.