The project is progressing well. It has been an evolutionary process - one that has seen my pre-conceptions and ideas challenged, revolutionized and transformed - and the journey is not yet over!
We live on a planet that is so diverse, so amazing. When I first arrived in India, my first comment to Lou was the number of people. As we have travelled across India over the last number of weeks, the truth of my statement has really become apparent. India is growing by the size of the Australian population every year. The conservative forecast for the planet is 9 billion people by 2050 - that's a lot of people.
India also clearly showcases the disparity between those who have, and those who have not. When driving through the streets where we live, we pass the massive malls that house the top brand consumer goods. We pass the luxury high-rise apartments that house the people that have been fortunate to get on the ladder of economic development. We pass the slums that house thousands of families, that struggle to survive each day. We pass the pavement dwellers that have nothing, that simply exist to die. India is positioned to be one of the major contributors to global GDP, and yet 40% still live below the poverty line. India still houses a third of the global poor. As India, and some other countries in the developing world like China, converge with the developed world - and perhaps become the centre of gravity in world economies - the challenge is for those who are unable to get on the first rung of economic development. For them - and there are around 1 billion globally - the situation is only going to get worse. The gap is only going to get wider. The situation more dire.
Are the poor in India and the rest of the world a result of their own countries mismanagement? A result of countries turning their back on God? Perhaps the poor in the world are a result of the greed and gluttony of all those above them in the pyramid of global society. Those who find themselves at the 'bottom of the pyramid' perhaps are there as a result of ongoing oppression and exploitation. What part do we play in this oppression and exploitation?
There is currently a lot of global dialogue about climate change, and the sustainability of the current trajectory of human activity. We live on a planet with finite resources. We have a growing population, which is going to see larger conversion of the planet's resources for consumption. My thoughts here are not motivated by fear of running out of natural resources, nor climate change, however God has called us to be good stewards with what he has placed in our hands. Are we being responsible with the planet that He has placed in our hands? Are our current levels of consumption sustainable? What impact does my consumption have on my neighbor? If you have a chance - and I highly recommend that you do - have a look at www.storyofstuff.com.
The thought that I am currently working through is: Are the poor in the world simply a symptom, and if so, what's the cause and how do I address the cause in order to have the greatest impact?
Am I currently living a life that causes a third of the world to live in poverty? What choices can I make that will begin to change the trajectory of human activity to one that is sustainable for all, and begins to bring back balance into our global society? Where opportunities and choices that are widely regarded as essential to leading long, healthy, creative lives, are available to all of society, who can then enjoy a decent standard of living, freedom and dignity, self esteem and the respect of others.
Jesus talks about those to whom much is given, much will be required. What's in my hand, and what can I utilize that will have the greatest impact in changing the circumstances for those who are at the 'bottom of the pyramid'? What do I have that will bring back social equity? Social fairness?
Choices. I have the freedom to choose, and with that freedom comes great responsibility. How will the choices I make today impact those around me?
Only when we begin to choose to adjust our lifestyles to truly reflect the conviction that individuals are not only capable of advancing human security, environmental stewardship and improved quality of life, but that it is our responsibility to do so, can we really begin to make a difference.
I believe we can. I believe that we are capable of changing the 'social climate' of our planet. I believe that we can see the poor lifted out of simply existing. I believe we can if we start to choose to do so.