? Essay, Research Paper
1. “The distribution of wealth and resources in the world is unequal”. Using a recent example which illustrates this inequality explain what Christians might do to support the victims of this situation. You should refer to the writing and thinking of the Roman Catholic tradition to illustrate and support what you say. If we look at our world we can see that there are two extremes. The extremely rich and the extremely poor. Luxembourg is the richest country in the world according to it’s Gross National Product. The average person in that country earns approximately $40,000 per year while in Sudan the average person earns $63. That is a colossal difference in wealth. If we look at a map of the world we can see that most of the world’s developed countries lie north of the equator while the majority of developing countries lie south. This can also be referred to at times as the ‘Physical Quality of Life Index Line’. If we look at the U.S.A. We can see that it possesses the most Billionaires with the figure reaching 145. This is a tremendous amount of money concentrated among a minute percentage of the world’s population. We would have to consider this as extreme inequality. Bill Gates the present owner of the Microsoft Coporation is the richest non-royal person in the world with assests estimated at $30 billion. If we took a number of developing countries and added up their present finances it would barely reach that figure. In the film industry collosal amounts of money are being payed to the actors and actresses. An example of this would be Arnold Swarzhenneger who pulled in approxiametly 74 million dollars for his role in the ‘Terminator’. Opera Whinfrey earned 171 million dollars for one show recently. This is really beyond my comprehension, no one deserves that amount of money for such a task as acting. Another way in which inequality can be shown is by looking at the ‘Per Capita Expenditure’ values. In the U.S.A. The average American would spend around $16,500 per annum, with a similar situation in Japan where the average citizen would spend $19,700 per year. Now looking at the values for some of the poorer countries in the world I can see that for Somalia their average expenditure for one year comes to a total of $17. A massive difference between the two. However in calling a country poor what exactly are we saying? The fianancial position of a country has to be compared to anothers in order to refer to it as poor. It would sometimes be called relative poverty. For example we could say that Great Britain is poor in comparison with a country such as Japan. By looking at the GNP and the PCE we could see once again a great difference in the two. Yet we know that the standard of living in GB is quite high. Poverty is only labelled upon a country through its relation with other countrie’s financial positions. By looking at the above facts and figures it becomes quite clear that the statement is quite correct in what it tells us. What is a developed and undeveloped country? From my own knowledge I would give the definition of a developed country as one which has established a stable financial situation, has good health-care, and possesses a fairly good educational system. Taking developing nations I would define these as countries which have no stable economy, poor sanitation and health-care, and a quite poor educational system. A lot of the countries in today’s world fit this description almost exactly while a good number of countries mainly above the PQLI line fit the first description. This definitely shows the inequality in modern day society. One quarter of the world’s population lives in the developed North and has four fifths of the world’s wealth at its disposal. In these developing countries there are a number of problems resulting from this great poverty: Firstly the poverty of the country itself is a great problem. Many nations spend their money on fairly silly items such as arms when it could be spent more suitably. The reason for their investment in arms is that a lot of developing countries have political problems and quite a number are at war. The world bank which provides loans to these countries expects it’s money returned along with interest charges and a lot of these countries can barely afford to repay just the money loaned. Therefore they borrow more money to pay off the first loan. It is a never-ending cycle which leaves these nations constantly in debt. An idea which has been suggested is to cancel all debts and begin again yet many are relunctant to do this. A lot of the money which people rightfully earn through production and exportation never reaches their pockets as retailers and transporters take the majority of the profit therefore the hard-working person in that country receives a very small amount of the profit. Secondly we have hunger and there are two forms of this. They include starvation and malnutrition. Starvation being where the people don’t have enough to eat. This is a problem which many organisations have tried to solve by actually giving food to the people and also by giving them the means to produce their own by providing seeds, tools etc. Malnutrition is where there is enough food but it doesn’t provide a balanced diet. There is very little that can be done about this as helping organisations do not have the means in which to meet every nutritional need. This can also be due to a shortage of water, but the people’s own lack of knowledge and national disasters would also be responsible. Thirdly we have disease which occurs because of poor sanitation, poor nutrition and lack of money. Vaccinations and medicines can be used to help this situation but again it costs money and it is very hard to aid everyone in a country medically. Finally we have the population explosion in which people are convinced they need a large family to go out and earn money and to take care of them in their old age. These are all problems which occur in still developing countries. What can we do to help the situation. The example which I am going to use to illustrate my answer will be the situation in East Timor. In October 1999 the Irish Government was urged to adopt East Timor as it’s priority for overseas funding. Trocaire has been doing a lot of work ever since but C.A.F.O.D, the Catholic Association for Overseas Develpoment, was one of the first international agencies to become involved with the situation in East Timor. They have been working with the Catholic Church and non-religious organisations like itself. It has programmes in the area for locating the East Timorese C.A.F.O.D. Workers and it’s associates. They want to build their offices and to get them up and running so that aid can be given. The aid includes providing shelter, household assistance, health programmes and providing maize for the workers so that they can reduce the food insecurity in the short term. C.A.F.O.D. is currently organising a major emergency grant from E.C.H.O. (European Community Humanitarian Organisation) for it’s workers in the east and for Caritas Indonesia (an associate) in the west. As well as helping the worse off nations of the world the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development asks us to remember what Jesus taught us about helping the poor. It concerns prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Matthew tells us about these. In Matthew 6:6 Jesus said,. “When you pray go to your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. And your Father who sees what you do in private will reward you”. This shows us that by praying we will help those who we pray for and be rewarded for it. In Matthew 6: 17-18 we are told about fasting, “When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, so that others cannot know that you are fasting – only your Father. And your Father will reward you”. In these words I think that Jesus meant that by helping others in today’s world we will be rewarded for our work in heaven even though the rewards may not seem great on earth. God tells us that in helping others will shall receive the fruit of our reward when in his heavenly kingdom Matthew 6: 2-3 tells about charity, “When you give to a needy person do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do….. do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it”. All of these words spoken by Jesus are trying to show us what our attitude should be toward giving and this is encouraged by C.A.F.O.D. These are three ways of giving to those in need. Christians are members of God’s church and this church, whatever it’s denomination, is teaching us that charity should be part of everyone’s life. The Vatican II instructed Christians using God’s saying, “Feed the man dying of hunger, for if you do not feed him, you are killing him”. Christianity has been face to face with poverty for years in a never-ending battle as it may seem. The Roman Catholic church in the Catechism making a number of different statements about charity. It stated that developed countries have a moral responsibility toward those which are unable to ensure the means of their development by themselves. This Catechism makes a lot of other points toward the subject of charity. It also states that charity work or ‘works of mercy’ are part of a Christian’s duty. Charity is part of a church tradition and the beatitudes inspire this love. The ten commandments also teach us about charity. The seventh commandment joins the practice of justice in charity in the administration of earthly goods as the goods of creation are designed for all of humanity, not just the rich. In the story of the rich young man we are shown a young person’s reaction to Jesus telling him that if he sold everything he had and gave the money to the poor he would inherit eternal life however, he could not do this. Jesus pointed out that, “It is harder for a rich man to enter the Kingdom of Heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle”. He also told us that, “Those who come first will be last and those who come last will be first”. These are all ways in which Jesus showed us that giving to the poor was right. In Corinthians 11: 17-22 we are shown how Paul makes several teachings on poverty, charity and disease. I feel it makes a close reference toward the situation in today’s world. In this reading Paul reacts to the people’s coming together for a meeting in the church at the time. They come together and eat and drink while some remain hungry others eat very well. It reads, “When you come together it is not the Lord’s supper you eat, for as you eat each of you goes ahead without waiting for anybody else. One remains hungry while the other gets drunk”. We can relate this to our own global situation where one part has all the money while the other has almost nothing. Paul seems very angry at the situation so how should we feel as Christians about the state of our time. In Mark 12: 41-44 we are shown how a poverty stricken woman donates one penny while the rich add handfuls of money to the poor box. Yet Jesus tells us that the woman donated more money than any of the rich people as she had very little money of her own yet contributed. The story tells us that it is not only the rich who should donate to these causes. C.A.F.O.D. is willing to take any donation and put it to use in any of it’s programmes. The original charity story would be the good Samaritan where a man was beaten and robbed. Two people passed him and finally a Samaritan man came along. He cleaned the man up, put wine on his wounds and took him to an Inn. The Samaritan is this story was an enemy of the man he cared for yet he did so anyway. This story shows us that a Christian should show charity even to his/her worst enemy as the Good Samaritan did. All of these parables show me an indication of what a Christian’s attitudes should be to poverty. Christians react to organisations such as C.A.F.O.D. by giving donations and joining missionaries out in foreign countries. In East Timor this donated money is used in building shelters, providing food and giving the people the chance to bring themselves out of this state by supplying seeds and tools. There are many different ways and organisations which can help the underdeveloped countries of the world. Christians must play a leading role in this help living by what Christ has taught us about charity, poverty and wealth. It is vitally important that organisations such as C.A.F.O.D. and Trocaire continue in the great work that they are doing and we learn that these countries need our help. Maybe through this help we can make the world’s resources and wealth more equal.