I thought I’d write a “Peace on earth, good will towards men” post about places on earth where there is more peace this year. You know – downward trends. Fewer bodies in the streets than a year ago or a decade ago. More harmony. Catholics and Protestants singing carols together in a Belfast pub. People walking home after dark without getting picked off by snipers. Fewer people blown up by a mine as they walked across a meadow. You get the idea.
But I couldn’t find any places like that.
Apparently, no one has come up yet with quantifiable stats for determining if a country has become more peaceful. I welcome you to search the net and prove me wrong. However, in my peregrinations I did find some semi-optimistic information over at the United Nations Statistics web site, which I am about to share with you.
I found the UN’s 2006 progress report on how their Millennium Development Goals are coming along. These are goals set in 2000 for how things should look in 2015. We are talking less poverty, less malaria, more education, more clean water – a world that is up to the Minimum Daily Requirement we North Americans and Europeans take for granted. I think that’s a pretty good starting point toward more peace and less misery. So let’s see how we’re doing.
Goal One: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger
Target 1: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1 a day.
Are there wonderful Christlike economies out there where people don’t use money but grow and share their crops and medicines and textbooks? Or is this a goal worth striving for?
The good news: Eastern Asia (China, Korea) has already beat the target. We’re so adapted to thinking of those countries as prosperous we forget they weren’t that way as recently as 1990. Southeastern Asia, which includes countries as poor as Cambodia and Myanmar, (pop quiz: name a country that borders Myanmar) has already beat the target. The islands of the South Pacific have already beat the target. Bad news: Sub-Saharan Africa has made almost no progress at all. In fact, the number of people living in extreme poverty there has increased by 140 million.
Target 2: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger.
Not doing so good, folks. The percentages of people in the “developing world” who go hungry every day are going down – but it’s a minuscule decline. In 1990, 33% of Sub-Saharan Africans went hungry every day. In 2003, down to 31%. Big deal. And because of population increase, the actual number of people who never get enough beans to fill their stomach – is up.
But, hey – the poor will always be with us, right? And there’s plenty of food in my refrigerator.
The entire report is well worth pondering. Check it out at Millennium Development Goals Report: 2006
Cartoon by Kaur Chand Badhok, India
Labels: Simple Justice