But I do understand a tiny bit about numbers, just some of the sharp edges. I do not speak the language of Algebra or anything doing much with xs and ys. But I know that there is a vast difference between one thousand and one million. An order of magnitude between a million and a trillion.
The universe, as far as we can tell, is about fourteen billion years old. 14,000,000,000. Life on this planet only just sprouted up. Humans have only been here a small part of a second. In relation to those fourteen billion years.
Here are some numbers--
There are at least one hundred trillion neural connections in your brain. 100,000,000,000,000. It is helpful to write these numbers out, which is seldom done in print. The numbers are generally just bandied about. There is often no context.
The US government spent 78 million, 78,000,000, on SNAP in 2011, that’s food for very poor people.
In 2014 the US spent 391,266,000 on MEDICARE, 211,353,000 Medicaid, and 33,979,000 on Veteran health care. If the US cost of health care for all these folks remained stagnant, in 50 years we would have spent a little over 39,830,950,000, which is about 40 billion dollars. Cost of the US Iraq “war”—a little over 2 trillion (2,000,000,000,000) over 10 years. And climbing. We cannot be sure of the cost long-term.
(feel free to bash any of these numbers to smithereens. there is much disagreement about large numbers and anything to do with large numbers. adjust for this. adjust for that. adjust for everything.)
There are currently 7.3 billion people on the Earth. Go here and check it out--World Population Clock. 7,306,515,550. Ticking upward every second.
There. I have just overwhelmed myself with numbers. So when I meet with well-meaning, loving, I-want-to-follow-Jesus people who say it starts with one person. You be kind to someone and then you inspire them to be kind to someone. It only takes a spark to get a fire a go ‘in. When I hear that it starts with the man in the mirror. When I hear that if we all just do our part.
18 people die every minute from starvation. That’s 25,920 a day. 9,460,800 people who die each year simply because they didn’t have enough to eat. This is not about diseases like Ebola or measles or malaria. This is about being hungry. This is not because there is not enough food to go round.
There are 316,128,939 people in the US. We are roughly 4.5% of the world population. We are gobbling up 25% of the world’s energy. I am not even going to search for numbers about how much food we eat, or throw away. How much corn we grow that goes into our gas tanks instead of peoples' mouths. Or into sodas. Ketchup. I’m not going to look up any stats about how much food we throw away. Because we already know.
Our economic system is not even remotely fair. I know. Life isn’t “fair.” But as Christians, as a nation that claims to be Christian, we should be working our dead level best to make this world as fair as possible. But, as Monica Crowley said last Saturday, this country is strong because of the Judeo-Christian principles that are woven into our constitution. And in the next breath she said, health care is not a “right.”
Yes, yes. God wants us to prosper or we wouldn’t prosper. Yes, yes. Jesus will bless you and bless you and bless you, even when you are grinding the world under your sneakers. Because you are a lily.
When I hear Christ-minded people say that it only takes a spark a drop in that enormous bucket. That if we allow ourselves to become overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem we won’t do anything. That if we will just send in our 25 dollars to whichever charity this that or the other then we are doing our best. When I hear these things I go over the top the cliff and I fly every which way at once. Because we are not doing our best. Because we are doing very bad things.
And it’s really not about all the killing in our “let’s spread democracy and keep the peace” bullshit “wars”(though they sure do cost a lot). It is about us. Yes, yes. I know. We are all sinners. A sin is a sin. The poor will always be with us. We cannot be expected to solve all the world's problems. Leave me alone I must have my DVR.
We doth protest too much.
IT IS ABOUT US.
We are HOGS.
We haven’t just taken away that little girl’s toy. We have trucked her off and laid claim to the playground. And to the little village that holds the playground. And to the valley that holds the little village. And to the county that holds the valley. And to the state that holds the county. And to the country that holds the state. And to the continent that holds the country. And to the world that holds the country. That little girl is nothing but imagination. She has nothing to do with us with you with me with Jesus. She is only the idea of another mouth that will not be fed today. She is only the notion of a pair of eyes that will shut and never open. Today.
I do not have the answers to complex problems. But telling myself if I just do this one little thing. Turn off a light. Send $25 a month to UNICEF. Smile at someone today. Telling myself that this will somehow sum total solve enormous problems does not convince me. Because even if everyone in the US turns the other cheek today or hands out dollars on the street today or prays really really hard today go go prayer warriors!, it is only a drip in the ocean.
If you want to win the game, you must move the ball all the way down the field. If you want to change the world, you can’t just change people’s minds. You have to change their actions. And what changes people’s actions? Shame on you? Government force? Peaceful protests? Revolution? Gun fire?
Poverty is a disease.
Starvation is a disease.
Ignorance is a disease.
Capitalism is a disease.
Capitalism is immoral. It is Un-Christian. And in the end, it is unsustainable. We cannot and will not continue to do what we are doing. Because we will implode. Because we already are.
Ignorance of history is a shame. Hubris is a shame.
We are dominating the world stage. For now. Such domination never lasts. It always fails. Because it isn’t fair. And historically, if you bully other people and steal their stuff and punch their noses and take their chocolate bars, you will fail.
So when I sit in a chair and discuss the global problems with our "religious conversations" and discuss how important it is to respect and listen to each other so that we can have more fulfilling "religious conversations" and move the world toward whatever good thing we seem to be moving toward, my mind goes wonky it goes big it chokes itself with continents and corn syrup.
Maybe if every hungry person in the world would start screaming right now so loud everyone everywhere even God in his heaven could hear them it would make a difference.
Or would I just put on headphones and go about our business?