raw numbers…(this hurts)

When I say that the problems I see that necessitate a radical faith are primarily American problems, here’s what I mean.

There are 6 billion people (roughly) on the planet. Out of this 6 billion, roughly 1.2 billion live on less than 23 cents a day. 1 billion people live on $1 a day, and roughly another billion live on less than $2 a day. So to summarize those numbers, 50% of the worlds population has a daily income of less than $2 a day.

That being said, the 3 wealthiest people in the world Americans. Their combined wealth exceeds the Gross National Product (GNP) of all of the worlds least developed countries. That is the equivalent of 600 million people.

So now that we’ve tackled the economics, let’s take a look at the basic necessities of life, like water and housing. 12% of the world’s population uses 85% of its water. 40% of the world lacks basic sanitation facilities. I want you to understand why that’s such a huge deal. Without basic sanitation facilities, the human immune system shuts down, because of drinking water that is compromised by human waste.

1 billion people on Earth are without safe drinking water. Compare that with the fact that Americans consume 26 billion liters of bottled water annually. Every 16 seconds through out the world, someone dies from hunger. Yet two-thirds of Americans are considered overweight.

On the housing side of things, the average size of a new house being built in America is 2,049 square feet. Meanwhile, 80% of the worlds population lives in substandard housing. This means that they live in an area that is considered unable to support human existence, like a flood zone or a desert.

How about consumption? Americans spend more money annually on trash bags than 50% of the world spends on all other goods combined. Anybody getting sick to their stomach yet?

1 billion people in the world cannot sign their own name; meanwhile, 4 out of every 5 Americans has a High School diploma. Only 8% of the world’s population owns a car, while one-third of American families own three.

I don’t know how else to say this. For my American readers, do you understand now how it is that when we say “democracy”, much of the rest of the world hears the word, “Greed”? Or when we talk about “the American way,” they hear “consumption”?

The United States holds nearly 50% of weapons worldwide (the raw number is 48.2%). In 2002 the US spent more on its defense budget than the next 18 biggest spenders combined.

As a matter of fact, the amount of money that the US is spending to fight the war in Iraq is sufficient to provide the entire world with clean drinking water, as well as provide basic education to the entire planet, and we would still have a couple of hundred billion dollars left over.

This is painful…and I’ll explain why this bothers me so much. Right now, here in the States, there is a new game show on in the evenings where if you win, you get $500,000. Knowing that the rest of the world lives off of 2 dollars a day or less, that means that their annual income is about $730. In order for these individuals to make $500,000 they would have to work for 684.93 years.

All of this sickens me…and as Christians we are supposed to be helping our world become a better place. It’s no wonder that the rest of the world looks at our expenditures, sees our lifestyle, and is upset by it.