A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 41). This blog is a continuation of the review of The End of Poverty: How We Can Make it Happen in Our Life Time, by Jeffrey Sachs, published in 2005
Foreword by Bono 2004
Let me introduce myself. My name is Bono and I am the rock star student. Let me tell you how Jeff Sachs and I started this journey.
It started when my great friend Bobby Shriver had advised me to meet Jeff before I went up to Capitol Hill to lobby on behalf of Jubilee 2000 for the cancellation of the LDC’s (least developed countries’) debt to the rich countries of the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) as part of the millennium celebrations.
Hunger, disease, the waste of lives that is extreme poverty are an affront to all of us. To Jeff it’s a difficult but solvable equation. An equation that crosses human with financial capital, the strategic goals of the rich world with a new kind of planning in the poor world.
The end of poverty is a challenge that’s hard to ignore. Jeff is hard to ignore. He’s not just animated; he’s angry. Because he knows that a lot of the crisis in the developing world can be avoided.
Staring at people queuing up to die and knowing that this doesn’t have to be so is too much for most of us. Jeff is creative. I am crushed.
Jeff is an economist who can bring to life statistics that were, after all, lives in the first place. He helps us make sense of what senseless really means: fifteen thousand Africans dying each day of preventable, treatable diseases – AIDS, malaria, TB – for lack of drugs that we take for granted.
This statistic alone makes a fool of the idea many of us hold on to very tightly: the idea of equality. What is happening in Africa mocks our pieties, doubts our concern, and questions our commitment to that whole concept.
If we are honest, there’s no way we could conclude that such mass death day after day would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else. Deep down, if we really accept that their lives – African lives – are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out. It’s an uncomfortable truth.
This book is about the alternative – taking the next step in the journey of equality. If we’re serious we have to be prepared to pay the price. Some people will say we can’t afford to do it. I disagree.
I think we can’t afford not to do it. In a world where distance no longer determines who your neighbor is, paying the price for equality is not just heart, it’s smart.
The destinies of the “haves” are intrinsically linked to the fates of the “have-nothing-at-alls.”
If we didn’t know this already, it became too clear on September 11, 2001. The perpetrators of 9/11 might have been wealthy Saudis, but it was in the collapsed, poverty-stricken state of Afghanistan that they found succor and sanctuary. Africa is not the front line in the war against terror, but it soon could be.
“The war against terror is bound up in the war against poverty.” Who said that? Secretary of State Colin Powell. When a military man starts talking like that perhaps we should listen.
In tense, nervous times isn’t it cheaper – and smarter – to make friends out of potential enemies than to defend yourself against them?
The plan Jeff lays out is not only his idea of a critical path to accomplish the 2015 Millennium Development Goal of cutting poverty by half – a goal signed up to by all the world’s governments. It’s a handbook on how we could finish the job.
We could be the first generation to outlaw the kind of extreme, stupid poverty that sees a child die of hunger in a world of plenty, or of a disease preventable by a 20-cent inoculation.
We are the first generation that can afford it. The first generation that can unknot the whole tangle of bad trade, bad debt, and bad luck. The first generation that can end a corrupt relationship between the powerful and the weaker parts of the world which has been so wrong for so long.
In Jeff’s hands, the millstone of opportunity around our necks becomes an adventure, something doable and achievable. His argument is clear. We converge from our different starting points … he from markets, I from placards. Luckily we agree you need both.
Will we in the West realize our potential or will we sleep in the comfort of our affluence with apathy and indifference murmuring softly in our ears? Fifteen thousand people dying needlessly every day from AIDS, TB, and malaria. Mothers, fathers, teachers, farmers, nurses, mechanics, children.
This is Africa’s crisis. That it’s not on the nightly news, that we do not treat this as an emergency – that’s our crisis.