"I'm what the world considers to be a phenomenally successful man. And I've failed much more than I've succeeded. And each time I fail, I get my people together, and I say, "Where are we going?" And it starts to get better." - Calvin Trager
"If you give Americans the facts, they'll do the right thing." -- President Harry Truman
Sunday morning, I was giving a presentation on the MDGs to a church in St. Charles, Missouri. As I gave the statistics and told the stories, I could tell a man sitting in front was getting more and more excited. When I finally revealed that all the MDGs could be accomplished with only seven-tenths of one percent of the rich nations' GNP this man -- his name was Bob -- could take it no longer. He burst out:
"Has anyone told the people in the government about this!? Do they know how easy this would be!?"
Yes, I told him, they have been told about this ... many times.
"Well, I don't hear them talking about it. Why don't they do something?" Bob said.
It's a good question without an easy answer. For one thing, it is being talked about and some things are being done.
"We show compassion abroad because Americans believe in the God-given dignity and worth of a villager with HIV/AIDS, or an infant with malaria, or a refugee fleeing genocide, or a young girl sold into slavery. We also show compassion abroad because regions overwhelmed by poverty, corruption and despair are sources of terrorism, organized crime, human trafficking and the drug trade.... Shortchanging (development programs) would increase the suffering and chaos of our world, undercut our long-term security and dull the conscience of our country."
And it hasn't been just words. There has been debt relief. There has been more money directed to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Just not as much as was promised. And way less than is needed.
Things didn't get any better today. In fact, at a time when we need to be ramping up of efforts, we're scaling back in some key areas.
It's not that we're doing nothing. We're on the right road, but we're traveling down it way too slowly. And it's a trip where lethargy equals lives. We've gone beyond the point where gesture, rhetoric and symbollic steps are enough. And yet at this crucial juncture the gap between rhetoric and reality seems, if anything, to be widening.
Bob came up to me after the presentation and said, "I wish I had known about all of this five years ago -- I would have been doing something about it!"
"I know," I told him. "But now you do know about it. So really the question is:
"What are you going to do now?"
Well, one thing all of us can do right now is let Congress know that this matters to us ... that this is not only a moment of truth upon which history will judge them, but a moment we will remember the next time we are at the ballot box. We can tell them that there is no excuse worthy of the wealthiest nation in the history of the planet letting tens of thousands of children die each day from a mosquito bite.
Let them know that they have the amazing opportunity to be heroes ... and that's what we expect them to do.
EGR resources and connects the church to embrace what one person, one congregation, one diocese and one church can do to make this mission of global reconciliation happen.
Want to find out more ... check our our website at www.e4gr.org.
"Christ's example is being
demeaned by the church if they ignore the new leprosy,
which is AIDS. The church is the sleeping giant here.
If it wakes up to what's really going on in the rest
of the world, it has a real role to play. If it doesn't,
it will be irrelevant."