I’ve been thinking a lot about inequality lately. I’ve been thinking about it for some time now really. I have trouble understanding why some people are born beautiful and charming and receive the benefits of that, while other people are born with humpbacks and two noses.
…I don’t personally know anyone with two noses, but you nose what I mean (see what I did there?)
We are all born, by no choice or consequence of our own, into a world and set of circumstances. We are born into money, poverty, beauty, deformity, religious communities, political corruption, families who value literacy and peace, rural communities, and many other circumstances, worldviews, and systems.
Clearly, we are all created equal, beautifully unique, and each a walking and breathing miracle. But life does not treat us all the same. And this is where my reflection and understanding cease…
It’s easy to forget the reality of inequality. It’s much easier to just not think about it. So much so, that we create systems, clubs, neighborhoods, churches, HOAs, and borders to distance ourselves from this reality.
Quick and easy exercise…figure out roughly what you live on per day…go ahead, take a second and do it (if you need help, just divide your annual income by 365). Alright, keep that number in your mind for a moment.
Now consider this with me… 80% of the world population lives on less than $10 a day. Nearly 1/2 of the world’s population — more than 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day, and more than 1.3 billion live in extreme poverty, less than $1.25 a day. It’s easy to read over sentences like those without processing the implications. Mostly, because it’s hard to think about it. That would require us to either choose to ignore it and just go about our lives, or it would require true empathy, which would then lead to action and sacrifice.
I make no attempt to offer solutions. But this all feels important to reflect upon; to have it shape my worldview and how I act and live.
A couple notes that have helped guide some of my thinking and are helping me move further down this road…
It feels important to put ourselves in positions and circumstances with people who are very different than us. And more than just to “be” with those people, we must learn to love (really love) those people. We don’t go on missions trips or volunteer with organizations to fix people – we do it to fix us. Each of us, no matter to what world we were born of, needs help getting our minds off of ourselves. Holding a child at the House of Blessings orphanage on my lap and reading them a story is kind and loving to them; to me, however, it’s critical. Teaching a mom to sew, or a young man to read is so important for them, but it’s critical for those of us who have been given a few more advantages. Every unearned benefit we have is wasted if it’s only spent on ourselves.
Another note – it’s interesting to read the life and teachings of Jesus with this concept in mind; trying to understand the cultural implications of what he was saying; trying to understand how shocking so much of his teachings and actions were (and are). He leveled the playing field – taught us that everyone is equal (a very counter-cultural concept at the time… them not us). He and his teachings were (are) radical.
That’s what I want my life to look like – one that puts others first and celebrates the beauty God has created in every person. I want a life that fights systems that further inequality; that’s speaks up for the disenfranchised, and empowers those who feel powerless. A life that demands an explanation.
“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8 NIV)