We can spend billions on war, why can’t we end poverty?

Today is Blog Action Day and us bloggers have been tasked to write about Poverty. Anything we want but it has to have some correlation to poverty. Now, when I started thinking on what to write about I couldn’t help but wonder why extreme poverty still exists in the world. Billions and billions of dollars are spent on war, why can we spend mere millions on ending poverty? There has been the Oxfam White Band campaign which has been and gone to end poverty. U2’s Bono has been asking every G8 country to forgive debt to third world countries that couldn’t possibly pay the millions back. I think all of this did help with awareness but really, we are in a state now. There is a financial collapse going on most likely ending up with more poverty. What else can we do?

“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”
— Confucius

If you are serious about this, you need to start at home. Think about your consumer choices. Especially when it comes to things like sugar, coffee, cotton. Choose Fair Trade options. Sure, for the most part you may pay a few extra dollars for a pound of coffee but it will sure taste better knowing a farmer got a reasonable payment for it.

We really need to look at consumer choices. I think this is a major cause of poverty. Instead of seeing how cheap you can get something (most likely manufactured in less than ideal situations in China, having a pollution crisis because of our greediness), see how you can support a local artisan, farmer, manufacturer, or musician. You don’t need to look very far and for the most part you won’t need to pay a lot more. You’ll feel much better about yourself.

“Wars against nations are fought to change maps; wars against poverty are fought to map change.” 
— Muhammad Ali

Along the consumer lines, buy locally. There are people in your community that will benefit from your local buying. Again, farmers, textiles, coffee shops. Do you think Starbucks coffee taste so much better than the local mom and pop shop? Stay away from the big box stores. These do nothing to help out your local community. Sure, the help with a few jobs but think about how many stores and local manufacturers go out of business because a Wal-mart has moved into town. 

At home you can also help out with charities. United Way is always a good one. Remember, you don’t need to give money, volunteer as well. I help out with Plan International, adopting a Foster child in Africa. I live in a country where we are in the top 10% of the worlds wealth. I should be able to help at least one child with his/her quality of life.

“Let us work in partnerships between rich and poor to improve the opportunities of all human beings to build better lives.” 
— Kofi Annan

Disposing of consumer goods… Don’t just throw them out. Give them to a thrift store. This helps out in many ways, you save these items from entering the landfill, you help someone less fortunate get goods that are still useful to others, and usually the thrift stores are for charity.

Finally, we need to make this an issue with our governments. Ask them what they would do to assist with poverty. What are they doing? Are they indeed dropping foreign debt that will most likely never get paid back? Sure, it’s an ego thing but I honestly don’t think the G8 countries really need to worry about an African country coming up out of nowhere to become the next global leader just because you dropped their debt. 

“It wouldn’t cost too much to change the rules of trade so that poor countries can work their way out of poverty. But the world’s leaders won’t act unless they hear enough people telling them. And every day they fail to act, thousands of people die because they can’t afford the basics of survival.”
— Bono

If people are aware of the issues, they can shop, live and vote mindfully.