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Beacon Blog: All just a decision away

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 24, 2010 - Today's Facebook sentiment that people are posting and reposting reads:

"Every Christmas I always hear people saying what they want and bought. Well this is what I want: I want people who are sick with no cure to be able to be cured. I want children with no families to be adopted. I want people to never have to worry about food and shelter & heat. Now, let's see how many people re-post this who actually care. I have awesome friends ... I know I'll see a lot of reposts."

I don't think reposting a Facebook status qualifies as "caring," but the essence of what it says reminds me that most of the world's ills are just a decision away from being solved.

If you look at the statistics, you will find devastating numbers. The number of children who die every day from starvation is about 18,000, but certainly that can't be caused by not having enough food in the world. It must be because we have collectively decided that it is OK. Whether these are active decisions or the consequence of passivity, it is clear that this is being allowed to occur.

About another 18,000 people die everyday from curable diseases. Just the fact that the statistic refers specifically to curable disease should tell you something.

I started to research some more numbers about human suffering and inequality, but I decided not to get hung up on numbers if we can agree that whatever the precise numbers are, they are too high.

Thousands of homeless people are in our own country. Is that because there are not enough homes to shelter everyone?

Although the numbers are adjusting thanks to recent health care legislative changes, many Americans still cannot easily access basic health care. America ranks  no. 37 in world for health care. 37? REALLY?

America ranks no. 17 in the world for public education. Does that make sense to anyone? What ever happened to "we're No. 1!"?

Everyday we wait, we are allowing people to die. Today about 50,000 people died from starvation, curable diseases and AIDS-related illness.

A year doesn't seem like a long time, but for a public school student it is. How many years have the St. Louis Public Schools been struggling? At least long enough for entire generations to receive substandard educations or, worse yet, drop out. And what are the chances of success for a generation of seriously under-educated young adults?

Around the Christmas holiday, we get a little extra interest in the poor, but they are among us throughout the year. Improving the collective human condition only requires the collective good will of people. It seems like we have that good will sometimes, but it is too easy to get caught up in our own lives trying to stay ahead, and we forget about the problems of our fellow man.

The Beacon may not be literally solving the problems we face in St. Louis, but our writers are shining a light on those problems so everyone can be better informed and make better decisions. If you were reading the Beacon regularly over the past year, you would now a have a pretty good handle on what is happening with public education. You would also have a better understanding of the health-care disparity. You would have an in-depth and contextual grasp of what our lawmakers are saying and doing in Jefferson City.

Armed with that knowledge, you would be ready to make informed decisions and be in a position to be a part of the solution. If you missed any of it, rest assured that the challenges we face are still there. Tune in to the Beacon in 2011 and keep yourself in the know.

If you're celebrating it, Merry Christmas. If not, it will be over shortly. Either way, Peace on Earth, Good Will to All.

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