As we get that festive feeling – only 16 sleeps til Christmas – maybe it’s good to put it all in perspective. This is what I found out today.
…1 billion people (yes, you read that right) do not have access to safe, clean drinking water
…34 million people are living with HIV/AIDS, 2.7 million of these were infected last year
…15 million children have been orphaned by AIDS-related diseases so far
…162 million people are trying to survive on less than $0.50 a day
…11 million children are estimated to live on the streets in India
…34,ooo children and 16,000 adults die every day of hunger or PREVENTABLE diseases
…the top 1% earners in Britain now earn 14.3% of national income, compared to 7.3% in 1970
…half the world’s children will go to bed hungry tonight
So, in light of these damning statistics, I support those who are trying to help us wake up to these realities. For too long in the West, we have been able to press the snooze button and carry on consuming – shopping more, eating more, caring (it would seem) less. As I wrote yesterday, times may well be a-changing. But I hope that meeting our own needs will not prevent us reaching out to others – a report out this week highlighted that we seem to be becoming more selfish and less altruistic as the purse strings tighten. Compassion is seemingly on the decline.
I also read today that it would cost an estimated $7-10 billion to halt and reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS. In 2005, Britons spent $6 billion on alcohol and $3.2 billion on ice-cream. I hope that, this Christmas, our hunger and thirst spread outwards from ourselves so that we choose to invest in ending the spread of HIV/AIDS rather than another bottle of wine.