“Charity has its place in emergency situations.… A life that is lived on as a recipient of charity is a miserable life. I think, in our DNA, the way God made us, we are made as co-creators. God wants us to perfect and to really finish His creation. And if you’re simply a recipient of charity, you’re not doing that; you’re not fulfilling your real destiny, which is this creative capacity that God has endowed us with, we’re letting that creative capacity sit idle. I think that’s—at probably at the deepest level that I can reach—what’s so inadequate about the traditional response to poverty.” Damian von Stauffenberg
I wanted to introduce all of our readers to an organization that a friend of mine has been instrumental in starting – Upaya Social Ventures. Upaya looks for enterprise-based solutions to poverty that focus not just on the enterprise, but on the community at large. Their model includes a deep consideration of the food, health, housing, and financial services in the area and how these various sectors are affected by the businesses that Upaya is supporting. It’s a very innovative idea and I am excited to see where their projects take them. Currently, they are working on fundraising and implementation of a community dairy project. The project will create dozens of new jobs in an impoverished community in India, provide technical training to many women in the community, and streamline the process of getting the dairy products to market. I encourage all of you to check out the website, and check out this particular project to see if you would like to get involved!
Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican Bank, had this to say in an interview with Catholic World Report regarding wealth, capitalism and the church: Speaking once again in paradoxes, what a rich man must do to become a saint is to…become even richer. Does this seem to be an incendiary phrase? Absolutely. But take a look at what follows: Because this implicitly means that he will produce more value and well-being for the common good. In providing for others I sanctify myself. This is obvious. Tedeschi’s thought is that the creation of wealth must precede the distribution of wealth, otherwise you are not unleashing the true source of wealth – people’s talents. Instead, all that is already a part of the pie is being taken and redistributed to people who have less incentive to innovate and to grow. Jesus did not have an issue with the rich man, but with what the rich man did with his money. This is why he was friends with Zacchaeus. Furthermore, friendship with Christ is transforming – its effects on Zacchaeus were to encourage him to repay fourfold all the money he had taken from people and to give half of his possessions… Read more
Andreas put up a blog about the book Enough: Why The World’s Poorest Starve In An Age of Plenty a few months ago. The book, by Roger Thurow and Scott Kilman, addresses the issues underlying the food shortages that we often hear about in the news. Most recently, the United Nations declared regions in Somalia to be in a state of famine. There are countless reasons listed by Thurow and Kilman in their book, from slow adoption and funding for hybrid seeds, to agricultural subsidies given by governments of developed countries, and from underdeveloped infrastructure for bringing crops to market to a lack of crop insurance in developing countries. Unstable political situations have also contributed to the problems. Thurow and Kilman give several recommendations at the end of their book. One is, I think, aptly titled “Leveling the plowing fields.” While the authors use this to call for an end to farm subsidies in developed countries, I think it’s a useful metaphor for the whole of what the book is calling for – including the developing countries in networks of productivity, something Blessed John Paul II always called for. This means not just removing subsidies, but improving markets, and letting… Read more
I think sometimes they are! Check out this really cool video about how places that do not yet have electricity are using a simple solution of water and bleach to illuminate their homes and work places. Some ideas for common problems in developing countries are as simple as could be and just need to be communicated in order to catch on. An extremely simple method for disinfecting water is using solar rays – it’s called SODIS. Filling a plastic PET bottle with water and leaving it in direct sunlight for several hours will remove most pathogens and bacteria that cause the deaths of millions of people each year from water-borne diseases.
Last week, I had the opportunity to attend an annual workshop organized by the the Acton Institute. This is the same group that is developing the Poverty Cure campaign which you now see promoted on the right hand side of this blog. The workshop was Acton University, and I had the opportunity to attend 11 intensive sessions on different topics relating to freedom, enterprise, religion, and politics. In fact, Acton has begun to post podcasts of the lectures that are available for purchase. It was a fantastic conference, very informative and worthwhile. Over the next few days, I will be posting a few different reflections on some of the sessions that I attended. In the meantime, check out the Acton Institute and PovertyCure sites!