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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Inviting the poor to join our exclusive club

An astonishing 3 billion people, nearly half of the world’s population, live on a mere $2.50 a day. With relatively few exceptions, most citizens of countries within the developed world do not find themselves among the segment of humanity trying to survive on the financial equivalent of a daily cup of coffee and a muffin.

The other half of the world - the one we’re accustomed to - live like members of an exclusive club and enjoy a lifestyle and array of opportunities far beyond the reach of non members – namely, the poor.

One could argue that there are two fundamental reasons that form the foundation upon which our exclusive club exists. Firstly and simply put, we live where we live. Secondly, and largely because of where we live, we have access to an unprecedented array of opportunities. In fact, the currency of our enormous wealth is opportunity. With few exceptions, even a member of our club with modest means can put few excuses forward in support of not doing relatively well within the context of all that our club offers.

These two fundamental reasons also form the basis by which more than 3 billion of our brothers and sisters, one billion of whom entered the 21st Century unable to read a book or sign their own name, find themselves excluded from our exclusive club. The currency of their lives is a profound lack of opportunity.

The poor of our world are willing and able to join our club. In fact, they would make exemplary members. The question we must answer is simple… are we willing to extend a compassionate hand and invite them to join us. Not out of a response to some form of guilt that if relieved, assuages our conscience, but rather, out of a sense that everyone has a right to be a member of our club.

The troubling news in all this is that our club is exclusive because we choose to make it so. The incredibly good news is that we have the ability to change it if we want.

Let’s change!

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