A world without poverty has been predicted to arrive by 2035. This is a cause for celebration. However, is it also a cause for consternation?
A lot of us need poor people. Here are just a few of the ways:
o Without someone to ladle soup for, how will we teach our children about gratitude?
o Without a family to adopt during the holidays, how will we assuage our guilt for having it so good?
o Without community service opportunities, how will teenagers pad their college applications?
o Without someone to build homes for, what alternative would college students choose over a raucous spring break?
o Without someone to accept the stuff we do not want, how will we clean out our closets without adding to the landfill and get our tax deduction?
o Without a community to randomize into treatment and non-treatment groups, how will we make progress on our research programs, get published and become tenured?
o Without someone to save, how will we become a CNN Hero?
o Without a village in dire need, how can we commit to make a difference in things that are largely out of our control and get invited to shake Bill Clinton’s hand?
o Without service learning opportunities, how will we build purpose into our classroom curriculums?
o Without someone to move out of poverty, what reason will world leaders have to convene conferences in exotic locations to solve a problem that they had a hand in creating?
o Without someone to serve, how will we signal our moral superiority to family and friends at social gatherings?
o Without someone to clothe, how will we market and sell poorly constructed yet overpriced shoes?
o Without someone to feed, how will US farmers and shippers profit from food aid?
o Without someone to advocate for, who will our politicians surround themselves with when they wish to redirect our attention away from a scandal?
o Without a poor child of color to sit on their laps, how will celebrities reignite a career that is long in the tooth?
o Without someone living in misery, how will social entrepreneurs make money and “do good” at the same time?
o Without someone in Africa in need of life-saving treatment, how will we be able to go on a shopping spree at Gap and the Apple Store and feel like we are making a difference while doing it?
o Without poor children of color to surround ourselves with, how will we get our poverty photo-op (see above)?
A lot of the questions arise from my personal and professional relationships with poverty and the poor. What questions could you add to the list?
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This post was originally published 0n 06/17/2013.
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