Just when news and politics were getting overwhelmingly dismal and even the ‘Got Hope?’ bumper stickers began fading and fraying…
A story to get excited about. Even the homepage of the PovertyCure.org site intrigues.
The first step to finding a solution is to understand the problem.
The problem is poverty around the world, but the Acton Institute’s lead PovertyCure director, Michael Miller, brought all sorts of interesting and motivating ideas to our radio conversation, points you can find all over their resourceful website.
What if we’ve been asking the wrong questions?
asks the website. And Michael explains:
We need to question our assumptions on how we help the poor. The question is not ‘why is there poverty?’, but ‘why is there wealth?’
He explained that people get out of dependency on aid not through humanitarian efforts, good and neccessary as those are. They are relieved ultimately through enterprise. Miller asserts: “there is no shortage of entrepreneurs in the developing world,’ which is a startling image for the developed world to grasp. At first.
I told him that researching the initiative called to mind the saying ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat for a lifetime.’ But then ‘Teach him how to build a boat and he’ll feed the whole village,’ which I recalled from an interview I did with the head of an organization focusing on micro-finance to assist individuals in the developing world who need little money and an investment arrangement to build that boat and keep it in business, while building self-reliance and esteem and dignity.
“I’ll take that one further,” Michael said, and he did. In the developing world, the people know how to fish. What they need is “access to the pond,” or in other words, access to global markets.
Of course. It makes such sense.
“It’s rooted in the understanding of the human person,” he said. “People create wealth. It’s a vision of enterprise. The human is made with capacity. We often talk about markets, but that translates to networks of human relationships.”
What’s needed to fulfill this potential, Miller explains, is what PovertyCure’s 120-plus organizations are networking to provide, starting with property to develop.
Here’s a quick list of conditions he checked off, at least the ones I caught as fast as I could write as he spoke:
The ideal is 60-70 percent of land ownership; the rule of law; a system of justice; fairness of law; free association; free exchange; a culture of families; a culture of success…
And the concepts of solidarity and subsidiarity.
It’s quite exciting. And as the site says: ‘Whether you’re anindividual or an organization, there’s always something you can do.”
We are called to a loving and generous concern for the poor. Yet for many of us with a heart for the poor, the statistics are almost overwhelming. More than a billion people live on less than $1.25 a day…
There is, however, reason for hope. Although we cannot create heaven on earth, we know what it takes for the poor to be able to create new wealth for themselves and rise out of poverty. Indeed, there exist powerful tools that could allow us to make enormous strides in creating prosperous societies. It is time to rethink poverty. It is time to put the person, made in the image of God, at the center of the economy.
We can do this.