I received an email from Oxfam recently with ‘this is shocking’ in the subject line. Of course I clicked on it as I was intrigued and discovered the headline of the story was a report that found 85 of the richest people own the same wealth as 3.5 billion of the poorest people. They call them the ‘have yachts’. I am not surprised by this, nor do I find it shocking. It has become a given in society that there are people in the world in poverty, meanwhile wealthier residents of the globe, not just those with yachts, are deliberating over what flavour Molton Brown body cream they should choose while flicking through articles in Hello magazine of glamorous couples and families showing off the trappings of their wealth…..I am guilty of living in a consumerist society just like the next person. I enjoyed a lovely day with my friend yesterday as a belated birthday treat where we had our nails done and jumped on a train to the nearest town to do some window shopping. It felt good but I also felt bad. I found myself wondering what it would have been like if we had instead devoted our day to helping other people in some way. I am going to try it next time.
I read an article about David Beckham visiting the Philippines on behalf of Unicef to help raise awareness of the recovery process out there, but in a separate article I read that him and his family had recently bought a home which cost 35 million pounds. I can’t help but judge this exorbitant price tag and think what that money could achieve elsewhere. I am sure they give to charity and give up their time to contribute to good causes but their contributions, and most of the other celebrities for that matter, are just a drop in an ocean of need that we as a society are not willing to address effectively. It is so much easier to turn a blind eye and focus on the day to day of our own lives.
I clicked on Oxfam’s link to email my local MP to ask them about future policies for tackling world-wide poverty and the effects of climate change. But in doing this I felt defeated already because really the email should come back to me and ask what I am doing and what all of us should be doing. What the MP needs to do is seek an attitudinal change. It is starting to happen in small ways, such as in my local shop there is a food collection for families who need the extra support. Its taking that element of looking out for one another and ramping it up so that it is not simply a kind, unexpected gesture but something that everyone seeks to do as a matter of course. Famous names such as Paul Walker and Angelina Jolie shouldn’t be labelled as philanthropists they were and are just people with a name behind them wanting to do some good. Everyone should be philanthropists.
What would I do with 35 mill? I would look into how the money could help counter-act the effects of climate change in some of the world’s poorest areas, for example, irrigation to combat the effects of drought. I think that money would be a far better investment for future generations than a new clothing line and lots of fucking bedrooms.
I am blogging every day to raise money for Unicef – if you can support the campaign donate here.
Thanks for reading.