Can We Help Fix This Broken World?

A belated Earth Day Message, Part 4
by Thea Halo

Leaving an Eternal Legacy:

Many of us have heard the proposition of French philosopher, René Descartes: “I think therefore I am.” Descartes never intended thinking to become a mere dalliance, however. Descartes’s first maxim provided guides or touchstones that would lead to the performance of morally good actions. Socrates posited that there were two roads to immortality. One is through procreation. The other through performing great works. So, how would this epithet look on one’s tombstone, or on a plaque next to one’s name at the UN? 

I helped repair a broken world, 
therefore I am, and always will be.

There is no logical reason why people living on this abundant earth should be starving, or deprived of clean water to drink and to clean themselves. There is no reason why people can’t depend on getting proper health care when the need arises. And there is no reason why children around the world can’t get a proper education. Actually, there is one reason: lack of sufficient interest to solve these problems by those who have it in their power to do so. Or perhaps it has been a simple lack of vision by otherwise willing participants.

Let’s concentrate on the more broken communities of the world… broken in the sense that too many in small villages around the world don’t even have the bare essentials that most people take for granted.

Suggested Plan of Action:

The following suggestions are for the first phase of a project to repair the world. These projects would also give much needed training and employment to members of the communities helped, by putting local villagers to work on the projects:

  1. Drilling communal wells in each village around the world where there is no clean water available for miles, as the first stage to eventually pipe water into homes; 
  2. Constructing sewer systems in each village, and constructing communal toilets and showers as the first stage to eventually supplying homes with indoor plumbing;
  3. Constructing roads from village to village… even rudimentary roads for a start, so that villagers can transport their produce or other wares more efficiently in order to sell or trade; 
  4. Building schools in villages around the world, supplying them with teachers and books, and inspiring students to think outside the box to help their own communities: See the film: The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019); https://www.netflix.com/TITLE/80200047
  5. 1.2 billion people worldwide don’t have access to electricity. Brazilian mechanic Alfredo Moser, who worked with MyShelter,1 devised a simple, yet effective device that brought light to homes that had no windows. He used plastic water bottles filled with water and bleach. By slipping a test tube with a small LED lightbulb into the bottle, which in turn is hooked up to a mini-solar panel, the bottle can still refract outside light during the day, then also used as a lightbulb at night.2
  6. Installing solar panels to bring electricity to rural villages, i.e. street lighting for a start, and later bringing electricity into homes;
  7. Constructing health facilities in villages that rural doctors can visit; 
  8. Set up a program for medical doctors to train gifted villagers in the rudimentary practice of medicine, where there is no resident medical doctor on site; 
  9. Helping villagers set up victory gardens, and supplying them with seeds and fencing to keep out predators. Perhaps a goat can also be given to each family for milk; 
  10. Teach and implement sustainable organic farming, irrigation techniques, and pest control;
  11. Supply free birth control and other indispensable medicines.
  12. Encourage wireless companies to supply free wifi and/or cell service;

Tens of Thousands of Villages Could be Helped.

According to one website, the cost to build a septic system in Africa, for example, varies widely from as little as $1,500 to upward of $4,000.3 Water Wells For Africa (WWFA)4 claims the average well in Malawi and Mozambique, for instance, would cost $8,000. Combined, that would mean each village would need only $12,000 for those two vital services if they were communal. Doubling that amount for two wells and two septic systems for a slightly larger village, and we still only need $24,000. If each village was allocated $100,000, which would also pay for a solar system, a schoolhouse, a health center, and other basics, almost 21,000 villages could be served. If only $50,000 is needed to accomplish these rudimentary improvements in each village, 42,000 villages could be served.

Who would pay for these projects? 

According to Forbes, after the Coronavirus outbreak, there were still around 2,095 billionaires in the world — their (known) total net worth exceeds $8 trillion dollars as of 3/18/2020. Let’s say, for arguments sake, that each billionaire pledged to give a measly 1/10 % of one billion dollars to a project that would help bring the poorest villages around the world the bare minimum of services that most of the world takes for granted, such as wells for clean water, sewer systems, schools, health centers, solar power, victory gardens, and rural roads from village to village. If each of those billionaires contributed just 1/10% of one billion dollars, i.e. one million dollars, the total would amount to a staggering $2,095,000,000. 

Are we our brothers’ keepers? 

All of the major religions preach generosity for one’s fellow humans. Yet without fail, except for the relative few, those who practice those religions fall far short of the message, or they believe the message only applies to their own ethnic or religious communities.

Christianity’s Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Acts 20:35 “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

Judaism: The Obligation of Tzedakah: Giving to the poor is an obligation in Judaism, a duty that cannot be forsaken even by those who are themselves in need. Some sages have said that tzedakah is the highest of all commandments, equal to all of them combined, and that a person who does not perform tzedakah is equivalent to an idol worshipper. 

Islam: One of the five pillars of Islam, is the obligatory charity known as Zakaat. 

Hinduism: Dana (giving) is an important part of one’s dharma (religious duty).

Buddhism: Generosity (dàna or càga) is a glad willingness to share what one has with others. Generosity is the proactive (carita) aspect of the second precept to abstain from taking what belongs to others. In Buddhism, generosity is seen as a strategy to weaken greed, a way of helping others and a means of lessening the eic disparities in society. 

Perhaps it’s time for our world’s billionaires to take these religious precepts to heart and head to the bank.

  1. MyShelter was founder Illac Diaz, a Filipino native. 
  2. Sarah Ruiz-Grossman, These Plastic Bottles Full Of Water And Bleach Light Up Homes Without Electricity. Huffington Post, July 19,1917. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/plastic-bottles-electricity_n_596e64f4e4b0000eb1968bb5
  3. Bonface, What is the best sewerage strategy for Africa? Construction Review Online: by Africa for Africa, Feb 4, 2016. https://constructionreviewonline.com/2016/02/what-is-the-best-sewerage-strategy-for-africa/
  4. http://www.waterwellsforafrica.org/projects/

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