I am currently reading Banker to the Poor by Muhammad Yunus. I had read his other two books on Social Business, but had not gotten around to reading the original story of the birth of micro-lending. Until now.
In one of the chapters I read this morning, Yunus talks about some of his issues with international aid organizations. For example, he notes that “one research institution in Bangladesh estimates that of the more than $30 billion in foreign donor assistance received in the past twenty-six years, 75 percent was not spent in Bangladesh. It was spent on equipment, commodities, and consultants from the donor country itself. … The 25 percent that is spent in Bangladesh usually goes straight to a tiny elite of local suppliers, contractors, consultants, and experts.”
It got me thinking not just about international aid, but also about non-profit organizations. There are 1.5 million (!) non-profits just in the US with close to $4 trillion (!!) in assets. That’s a lot of money! It’s great that people are so generous and willing to give money to charities and other funds, but wouldn’t it be cool if it wasn’t needed?
I started imagining a world where these types of organizations were not required. What would it take?
- Everybody takes only their share of the world’s resources (calculate your ecological footprint here)
- We live in tight-knit communities where neighbors look out for one another and don’t hesitate to stop by for a cup of sugar
- Our houses are “not-so-big” and within walking/biking distance to all the necessities of life (grocery store, bank, library, school, work, entertainment, place of worship)
- Conflict is settled through conversation rather than war
- Universal literacy and internet access is the norm
- Equal educational opportunities for all children
- Quality healthcare for all with focus on disease prevention
- Government priorities shift to support health, education, and sustainable farming
- Everybody contributes to a global relief fund for natural disasters
- Companies are responsible for the recycling of the products they produce
- Clean water is available for all people
The list goes on and on. It may seem like a dream world, but it really boils down to the first point. If everybody took only their share, the world would be a much better place and the majority of international aid and non-profits would be obsolete.
I have work to do. If everybody lived like I do, we would need close to four earths. I will not rest until I figure out how to take only my share. It is possible. Here are some things I want to accomplish in the next two years to get closer to my goal:
- Move to a small, sustainable home
- Live in a neighborhood where I can access everything I need by foot or bicycle
- Reduce air travel (this is tricky when my family lives in Europe!)
- Eat mostly local/sustainable food
- Learn mending and fixing skills to make “stuff” last longer
What is your ecological footprint? What steps are you taking to reduce it?
Like what you read? Pass on the goodness!