July 2009



In contrast to this Icon of service and caring, I received a brochure that claimed: "The modern global village that could have made everyone in the world friends has instead brought international terrorism into our lives." That is a very stark, frightening reality.

We have created the global village. Communication is instantaneous across time zones, across continents. Travel is almost effortless; we are in Boston in the evening and Beirut in the morning. We live in a totally accessible world. We should be one human family. With all the developments and accomplishments in our own age, we should have expected the global village to be a village of friends, but instead we have discovered some real enemies.

The article continued; "Today you are one of more than 25,000 heads of state, ministers of religion, members of Parliament, monarchs, religious leaders, and captains of industry, journalists and other influential people of 191 countries who hold this printed glimpse of our world."

The article painted a vivid picture of people from all over this global village. The vast majorities of them live in extreme situations of poverty, neglect and need. Then the article states, "For the first time in history we have the means to end poverty." Then it boldly states, "Today it's in your hands."  Raphael said almost the same thing three thousand years ago; our responsibility for poverty and all the ills it breeds is nothing new.

It is, and always was, in our hands. Our global village could become one human family when we really 'do good', and when we really 'care for the poor' eliminating fear and eradicating the incubator that breeds terror. 

The Prophet Amos described a situation of extraordinarily evil: "Woe to those proud people who live overconfident on the hill of Samaria, living in riches and luxury. You lie in a bed inlaid with ivory and sprawl on your couches. You eat lamb from the flock and veal from the calves fattened in the stall. Especially fattened, not on range grass, but on the best wheat. You strum on your harps, and like David, try out new musical instruments for entertainment. You drink wine by the bowlful and anoint yourselves with finest oil. Living in luxury and wealth, you do not grieve..."

Amos sees a world where some are very rich, and they don't care about the rest who are desperately poor. And the rich are the religious and civil leaders of the day. They are rich, and they defame the poor, neglect them and ignore them. I'm afraid this is very like the global village we have created.

The gap between the rich and poor is huge. Many of us are in between, but perhaps benefiting far more than we like to admit from the system. And if you compare our nation with the rest of our world, the gap is even more dramatic.

Amos deplored this gap, he denounced it. He wanted us to know that it was and is wrong, and it is not what God intends. We will never have a human family, even within a global village, as long as there is a tremendous gap between those who have and those who have not.

We get richer; they get poorer. These are what are known as the structures of violence, the structures of injustice. We have to try to overcome that also. Besides sharing what we have, we also have to try to change the system.  To bring change, we have to share what we have, but we also have to change the systems that are unjust, that make the rich richer and the poor poorer. If we take our responsibility seriously, then the promise of the brochure could be realized: "For the first time in history we have the means to end poverty." And today it is in our hands.

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