Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Blog Action Day: Poverty - A Writer's Perspective

The “haves” and the “have-nots”. We see these groups play out in stories, time and again. Fantasy is no different. Consider Aladdin, an exploration of poverty - Disney style. Aladdin had no monies, he had to steal, people threatened to eat him and he had a monkey to share adventures with; ultimately he broke free from his poverty and became King of the world (or his whole new world (w/e)). In reality these things rarely happen (when I was poor we didn’t have a monkey and I’m still sad about it, if you can’t tell L) and only children’s stories usually end up with a happy ending. Fantasy has tried over the years to explore poverty in many different ways, by showing the poor and suffering, by showing those that prey on the impoverished, by showing those that overcome their situation and those that revel in it. Even in fantastical worlds, we see scenes of poverty which resemble those in our own world. By writing about poverty, authors inform their readers about a real problem in our world. It’s hard to know the depths of human despair when you are financially secure, but when we pick up a book and create bonds with characters, when we explore their worlds through their eyes we become sympathetic travelers, we gain new insight and learn empathy for all of life’s tragedies.

In 2007, 37.3 million people in the U.S. were in poverty. The numbers are much worse when we look across the world, especially when considering children. 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, and 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
Poverty creates more than just a lack of food or a lack of clothing. It helps spread disease because people can not buy medicine; it helps spread viruses because people cannot drink clean water. Poverty limits children's ability for education, which limits their ability to be able to ensure financial security as they join the work force. Growing up impoverished can lead to a life of crime.

Knowing about a problem is half the battle, what you do with that information can help so many lives.

What you can do:
Join online groups such as:
Contact local, State and Federal Governments on these issues
Donate time (habitat for humanity, food bank, soup kitchen)
Donate money
Play Free Rice Online to help the UN World Food Program to help end hunger

Help end world hunger

I know from personal experience what it’s like to be in poverty (it’s not all singing and dancing and having a monkey for a best friend). If it wasn’t for WIC and welfare, I wouldn’t have the life I have today. Please continue to support these systems, even if you feel like some people abuse the support, there are those that truly need it and lead successful lives because of the aid provided by the U.S. government.

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