Mankind’s Problems—Will They Ever End?
“ONE quarter of the world’s population live in poverty, 1.3 billion survive on less than $1 a day, 1 billion are illiterate, 1.3 billion lack access to safe drinking water and 1 billion go hungry daily.” So notes a report from Ireland about the state of the world.
What a sad indictment of man’s inability to find lasting solutions to the world’s problems! Those problems seem even more tragic when you realize that the overwhelming majority of people described in that report are defenseless women and children. Is it not appalling that even now, in the 21st century, their rights continue to be “violated every day in numbers of such magnitude as to defy counting”?—The State of the World’s Children 2000.
“A New World Within a Single Generation”
The United Nations Children’s Fund has expressed confidence that “the pall that these abuses . . . have cast on lives around the globe can be lifted.” This organization says that the terrible conditions these unfortunate billions currently have to endure are “neither inevitable nor immutable.” In fact, it has issued a call for “all people to realize a new world within a single generation.” This, it hopes, will be a world in which all humankind will be “freed from poverty and discrimination, freed from violence and disease.”
Those expressing such sentiments draw inspiration from the fact that even now caring people do a tremendous work to alleviate the sad consequences of “a seemingly unending string of conflicts and crises.” For example, over the past 15 years, the Chernobyl Children’s Project “has helped to lessen the suffering of hundreds of children affected by the cancers which the nuclear cloud left in its wake.” (The Irish Examiner, April 4, 2000) Aid agencies large and small certainly do make a huge difference in the lives of the countless victims of war and disaster.
Still, those involved in such humanitarian efforts are realists. They know that the problems being faced “are more widespread and profoundly entrenched than they were even a decade ago.” David Begg, chief executive of the Irish charity Concern, says that “staff, supporters and donors responded magnificently” when Mozambique was hit by catastrophic flooding. “But,” he adds, “we cannot cope alone with the sheer scale of such disasters.” Regarding aid efforts in Africa, he candidly admits: “The few candles of hope that do exist flicker weakly.” Many would feel that his comment accurately sums up the global situation as well.
Can we realistically expect to see the hoped-for “new world within a single generation”? While current humanitarian efforts are truly commendable, surely it makes sense to consider another prospect for a just and peaceful new world. The Bible points to that prospect, as the next article will consider.
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Page 3, children: UN/DPI Photo by James Bu