Multiply Justice

If (fill in the blank) was a country …

By Jeff Palmer

Bear with me. I’m going to play a game. I’m going to play “If _________ was a country…” I’m going to fill in the blank with some odd but thought-provoking subjects.

— If poverty was a country, it would by far be the largest country in the world. Over 40 percent of the world lives in either moderate or absolute poverty. That would be a population of 2.8 billion. The two largest countries in the world today (China and India) combined wouldn’t even reach that number.

— If absolute poverty was a country, it would be one of the top three largest countries in the world. It would have about 1.1 billion people. Absolute poverty is defined as people who live on less than one US dollar per day. I wonder if some dictator would even want to take it over?

— If hunger was a country, it would be the third largest country in the world at 900 million. It would almost make up three times the population of the USA. I wonder if it were country, would it be as invisible to the rest of the world as it is today?

— If refugees and internally displaced persons were a country, it would be much smaller. Only about 80 million and would rank around No. 15 in population in the world. Imagine 80 million people living in UN tents, depending 100 percent on handouts for their daily existence.

— If HIV/AIDS was a country, it would have “only” 35 million people. Of course that wouldn’t count the 15 million orphans left behind by parents who have died of this horrible disease. I guess the only reason this country is not growing quickly is that the death rate is so high.

— If people without adequate access to water were a country, it would make up about one out of every 7 persons alive on the earth today. Thirsty, anyone?

— And finally, if 50 percent of the wealth and consumption of goods of the world were a country, it would strangely look like the United States, which is actually only 4 percent of the world’s population.

I don’t know what it is to live in the country of poverty or hunger. I have not had to flee my home and country. I have good health and easy access to drinking water. And I am a one of those 4 percent who consume 50 percent of the world’s resources.

I wonder what, if anything, all of this means.

Jeff Palmer (@jjeffreypalmer) is executive director of Baptist Global Response. World Hunger Sunday is Oct. 14. Learn more by clicking here.

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