One reason that real solutions seem to slip away easily is that once you really begin to grapple with root causes, the connectedness of us all becomes vividly apparent. We can't just focus on the microcosm and ignore the macrocosm.
Teaching a person life skills so they gain employment doesn't accomplish much if they can't earn a living wage. A living wage is not possible in a world embracing a global labor pool. Limiting out-sourcing might help American workers, but will hurt those seeking a way out of poverty in China.
What can we do? Good faith efforts are made to address the global reality. The recent Live 8 concert is a good example. Although, I wonder, is canceling debt really a solution? It's a good start, but over the long haul, it doesn't solve much. To make a lasting change, global trade pratices need to be considered.
The fair trade proposals will bring income to those in need, but will also make a living wage even more distant in this country, which brings us back to considering local solutions.
See the frustration?
I don't think it serves anyone to simply ignore this tension, however. Putting on blinders results in duplication of efforts and limited alliances. We have to think globally, and then attempt to model grassroots efforts to work in tandem with the goals developed by those working with a global perspective.
One such perspective that is worth keeping in mind is the UN Millennium Development Goals. To refresh your memory, here are the goals all 191 UN members have pledged to meet by 2015;
1. Eradicate extreme hunger and poverty.
2. Achieve universal primary education.
3. Promote gender equality and empower women.
4. Reduce child mortality.
5. Improve maternal health.
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases.
7. Ensure environmental sustainability.
8. Develop a global partnership for development.
Episcopalians might be interested in learning more about a group within the Church that is championing these goals; Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation.
Continue to feed the hungry and shelter the poor in your own backyard. But keep in mind that real solutions also require us to recognize that our connection with others has moved beyond tribal and national boundaries. We are now engaged in an awesome task; nothing less than transforming the world.
Also remember that we can't fix anything by ourselves. We are called to do what we can do, and then trust God for the rest.
From the EGR website;
A Four-fold Franciscan BlessingJ.
May God bless you with a restless discomfort about easy answers, half-truths and superficial relationships, so that you may seek truth boldly and love deep within your heart.
May God bless you with holy anger at injustice, oppression, and exploitation of people, so that you may tirelessly work for justice, freedom, and peace among all people.
May God bless you with the gift of tears to shed with those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, or the loss of all that they cherish, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and transform their pain into joy.
May God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you really CAN make a difference in this world, so that you are able, with God's grace, to do what others claim cannot be done.
And the blessing of God the Supreme Majesty and our Creator, Jesus Christ the Incarnate Word who is our brother and Saviour, and the Holy Spirit, our Advocate and Guide, be with you and remain with you, this day and forevermore.