Standing Up and Taking Action Against Poverty

This past Sunday at St. George’s the topic of my sermon was justice. Justice is, for me, a basic value of fairness and equality. It is a place where we should begin life and end life.

Of course, as we all find out, life is not like that. Justice is something hard to find and injustice is too often where we find ourselves. Human frailty and the ease with which we fall to selfish greed and pride, makes for a world full of injustice.

Poverty is one of the greatest injustices. How many times have you heard that there is enough food in the world for everyone on the earth to eat and not be hungry? Yet, if we really believe that then why are people still dying of hunger?

I have often found myself feeling so overwhelmed when I think about poverty, because it seems like such a big and complex problem that I feel helpless to do anything to stop it. Truthfully, it is not in my power to do anything about it. How could I? I am just one person.

In 2000, the United Nations got together and got 189 nations to agree to the Millennium Declaration with its 8 Millennium Development Goals. The first goal was to end extreme poverty by 2015. As “pie in the sky” as declarations may seem, you know, they often seem like all they are is a “nice thought”. This said, somehow, deep down in heart, I actually found this Declaration stirred up some of my hope. Hope that we might actually be able to address this great injustice if we actually do it together. Maybe with the weight of the whole world, we might be able to end poverty.

I want to be part of the generation that can actually see the end of the extreme poverty that taints our world.

Canada, was among the nations that agreed to the Millennium Declaration, and we have passed bills which officially have given our country’s support. The problem so far, in Canada, is our government has not done much to actually show its willingness to make it happen.

Since I have a vote here in this great country, I decided to write an email to my local MP and let him know that, I, one of the people he represents, would like to see Canada be a world leader in helping our world be a more just place by seeing that Canada meets its Millennium Declaration commitments.

Part of my letter included my own version of the “Stand Up” pledge found at Actually, I found the site and the action it encourages to be very hopeful. Here is a video of Archdeacon Desmond Tutu that helped inspire me to “Stand Up” in my own way and to make the pledge my own.

My “Stand Up” Pledge:

I stand here proudly as member of the generation that intends to defeat extreme poverty.

I cannot stay seated when a child born in a poor country today will die 30 years earlier than a child born in a wealthy one: when tens of thousands of people die unnecessarily every day.

And I stand up because I am asking not for charity but justice – I know, that in my name, world leaders have made mighty promises to bring this to an end – they are called the Millennium Development Goals. What is needed is the political will to achieve and exceed these goals – so I am on my feet to say –

To the leaders of the wealthy countries – be great – fight to keep your promises – debt cancellation, more and better aid, and trade rules that help fight poverty – you know what needs to be done – do it.

I also stand before the leaders of poorer countries to say – be great – make it your first responsibility to save the lives of your poorest citizens. I ask you to achieve real transparency and accountability in how money is spent, to tackle inequality, to root out corruption. You know what needs to be done. Do it.

I am one of six billion Voices. I want justice now. No more excuses. I will not stand for them.