Why is there a wealth disparity in the world?
I’m not going to answer that question. I don’t know if there is an answer.
The disparity is reality. Here are just a few possible indicators of opulence:
· Having a car
· Driving almost exclusively on paved roads
· Enjoying electricity 24 hours a day
· Hot showers
· Milk from your fridge to put on cereal or pour in your coffee
I don’t think it’s helpful to deny the existence of this imbalance. There is a tacit denial which takes the form of intentional lack of awareness of the needs of the undeveloped world. Guilt is also not helpful. Feeling guilty about your pool does not materially benefit your friends in Haiti, Sudan or Pakistan. Giving based on guilt can lead to lack of results or might even be counter-productive.
There is progress in our world. Currently, about one billion of us live on less than a dollar a day. That’s a billion too many, however, it’s a smaller percentage of the world population than ever before who lack the ability to meet their basic needs.
The past twenty years have brought progress to Haiti. Access to electricity, education and the internet are improved. We see better homes and less hunger. Despite the headway, Haiti is still the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Life expectancy for a Haitian is almost twenty years less than that of the average American. Basic infrastructure, health care and sanitation are almost nonexistent. Haiti is the product of colonial-era slave legacy that left it with an unfair debt and an unstable government. Systemic corruption persists with ripple effects that render every segment of society less functional.
This sounds depressing. Is there hope?
Maybe there are other ways to measure what it means to be wealthy. Have you ever sat on the front porch with new friends and old? Have you swapped stories, laughed and sung songs? Have you been greeted at work or church with a comfortable hug? It’s impossible to put a value on relationships. To love and be loved is to be rich.
The truest wealth is to know Jesus as Lord and Savior. Jesus taught us to “Lay up treasures in heaven where neither moth nor rust corrupt and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 5:20-21, ESV).
Thank God for the land of privilege in which you live. Educate yourself about those less fortunate. Choose a ministry carefully and then contribute on an ongoing basis. If given the chance, take a trip. Spend a week or a year in Paraguay, Nigeria, Mexico, Haiti or any one of a hundred other countries. Love the people you meet, while understanding you are not their savior. Invest the time it takes to be rich in relationships, both at home and abroad. The deepest joy and lasting pleasure is found in knowing Jesus, living with purpose and sharing that with others.