Thursday, September 17, 2009

Vision Month (Week 4): Global Change through Local Action

According to Greek mythology, Sisyphus was the wisest and most cunning human who ever lived. Unfortunately for him, this all led to some conflict with the gods. He stuck his nose into a love triangle involving Jupiter, and he fooled the gods of death two separate times, adding years to his life.

Finally, however, the gods won out. They sentenced Sisyphus to one of the most famous punishments in the history of the world. Every day, he pushed a huge round stone to the top of a high hill. After struggling all day to reach the top, the stone rolled back down to the bottom of the hill. Sisyphus punishment was meaningless work, forever. He was cursed with an unsolvable problem that he just had to fix.

When we hear the statistics of global poverty, we can feel a lot like Sisyphus. 3 billion people living on less than 2,500 won a day. 25,000 children die every day because of poverty. 2.6 billion people lack decent toilets or clean water. 1.8 million children die every year diarrhea.

When we talk in millions and billions, the problem of global poverty seems like an impossible mountain. We look at the pictures of the starving children, and our heart knows that we must do something. But our brain reminds us that we can’t feed billions. If we give 1 or 1,000 or even 100,000 kids enough medicine to prevent diarrhea, there will still be 1.7 million who die from it this year.

After a while, it all feels like rolling that stone up the hill, day after day. We can work hard. We can give our lives to helping others. Yet, it can still feel meaningless because of the millions and billions we didn’t help. Sometimes, it seems as if the whole world has the curse of Sisyphus. Sometimes, it feels like we’re cursed with an unsolvable problem we just have to fix.

So what do we do? Well, some of us keep pushing that stone up the hill. But others of us, give up on that all together. We just quit trying. Some of us even quote Jesus as support for giving up on the fight against poverty, “The poor will always be among you.” We forget that he also said, “Whatever you do to the least of these you to do to me.” But when there are 1 billion “least of these” who need our help, the problem just seems too large.

But we have special powers that Sisyphus didn’t have. In fact, we have three special powers that completely change the game. ...

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