The Audacity of Injustice
Updated: Sep 30
Around the world, a billion people struggle to live each day on less than the cost of a pumpkin spice latte. In 2018, an estimated 6.2 million children and adolescents under the age of 15 died. Most of these deaths were from preventable causes such as pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, preterm birth complications, birth asphyxia, and congenital anomalies (World Health Organization, 2019). Access to immunizations, adequate nutrition, safe water and food, and trained medical professionals could have prevented loss of life.
Extremely poor people live in all corners of the globe – the United States, China, Latin America, the Caribbean, the Pacific, the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Some countries and government officials benefit from exporting their natural resources but, unfortunately, the occupants of the country do not. The extremely poor often lack control over their lives. There is a sense of powerlessness that one will remain poor no matter how hard one works and work in impoverished areas often means hard physical labor (Singer, The Life You Can Save, 2010).
The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled this planet into a tailspin. Brazil has about 1,000 deaths a day due to COVID-19. In the Nigerian city of Kano, gravediggers are running out of space and have resorted to burying corpses between existing graves or putting multiple bodies in one grave. There are fewer than 2,000 ventilators across 41 African countries, compared with 170,000 in the U.S.
Here in the U.S., where we have more COVID-19 cases than any country worldwide, the number of deaths has jumped from 152 on March 17 to 100,000+ presently. A substantial proportion of those deaths can be attributed to occupational segregation. Additionally, ten of the 12 countries with the largest number of newly confirmed infections come from emerging economies such as Russia, India, Peru, Chile, and Brazil. The resulting devastation will likely reverse years, or perhaps decades of economic progress (Zakaria, Washington Post, 2020). Furthermore, the United Nations estimates that 8% of the world’s population, about 500 million people, may be forced into poverty by the year’s end due to the devastation brought on by the virus.
In the midst of a worldwide pandemic, the phoenix of police reform rose necessarily from the ashes. Outrage over abuse and discrimination black and brown people have experienced in this country spilled over to and equally outraged citizens in numerous countries overseas. Could anyone have predicted this? Apparently, the demise of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray and countless others triggered sentiments of similar experience.
Will things get better? At this time, we are forced to adhere to a modified system of herd immunity fought with masks instead of vaccinations on top of dealing with the world’s woes. There are many sad ironies. In order to jumpstart the economy, the populace needs to work. However, going back to work means the virus may spread. In order to advocate for prompt change, peaceful protest is necessary. However, peaceful protest may result in a worsening pandemic. Saving lives and preventing great suffering can be eased by making it possible for people to earn their own money to meet their needs in a sustainable manner, yet again the pandemic may worsen by doing so.
So, how can we help one another? First, we should understand that denial of a problem is a problem. The following facts cannot be refuted. Science tells us we must wear masks and social distance or the virus will spread. There are 1.3 billion people in this world who live in extreme poverty. And, social inequity and oppression has been present in the U.S. since this country’s inception.
Second, we should recognize that we are all interconnected. Jim Young Kim, past president of the World Bank, said, “Growth without inclusion is unsustainable and threatens the prosperity and security of all countries. We need to work together….” Rich countries are less likely to go to war and by ignoring developing countries we may be “deprived of potential new markets and become less competitive. Aid provides a foundation for growth” (Gates Notes, 2017).
Third, it is crucial to exercise your right to vote and encourage others to do the same. By utilizing social media and the telephone, one can help register new voters. Voting gives you power and a voice.
Fourth, we should realize that doing nothing amounts to taking a collective step backwards. Keep in mind that every step counts - from protesting the unfairness of an institution to rebranding pancake syrup to crafting new models for public safety.
Fifth, know that change almost necessitates some level of sacrifice. Give up something you like to do, or buy, in order to help someone else. On a daily basis, look for ways to help others and uplift the vibration of the planet. Try to think and act in altruistic ways both locally and globally.
Last, have a proper mindset. Get your mind going in the right direction. Exude positive thoughts and watch what happens. As Dale Carnegie once said, “Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept trying when there seemed to be no hope at all