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Posted Online on Wednesday 30, November 2005 11:45 IST

Muslim Islamic NewsEndemic poverty, a crime against humanity

By Mirza A. Beg

The Milli Gazette Online

Seasons greetings. Eid and Diwali in early November followed by Thanksgiving, Hanukkah and Christmas in December. While we celebrate let us temper it with reflections on persistent poverty around the world, exacerbated by the poverty of spirit, hubris of wars and neglect. UNICEF warns that a lackadaisical response to the Kashmir Earthquake and onset of winter would add many more to the 80,000 dead and millions suffering. The Bomb blasts in Delhi on the eve of Divali once again remind us of our inhumanity to our brethren. Fasting during Ramadan helps us experience to some extent the suffering from the deprivation that the poor suffer all through the year. I hope the following poem would help put poverty on perspective, economic justice is an integral part of equity and justice.

The festive season is upon us
Eid, Divali, Thanksgiving and Christmas
Days of rejoicing and celebrations
Of gifts, given and received, with anticipation
Opening neatly wrapped packages
Feasts of gastronomical delights 
Warmth of hearth, home, friendships
And blissful sleep cushioned in comfort

The garbage is brimming with
Discarded wraps, uneaten food
Not all is waste, just refuse from plenty
Recycled to the poor scavengers
Populating the fringes of teeming cities
Thrown plastics, metals and clothing
Reclaimed by the dispossessed 
Partly eaten food fills a hungry stomach

Awareness of hunger evokes pity
But being hungry brings empathy 
For the crowded shantytowns
Living in the indignity of poverty
Receiving the gift of charity 
Of food or perhaps some money 
They in turn give a greater gift
The precious gift of an eased conscience

The meek shall inherit the earth, but not today
Wants trumped by dire daily needs
Vacant expressionless eyes 
Stare from behind an invisible fence
They get charity, the immediate need
What they need is economic justice
To overcome the endemic poverty 
A crime against humanity

Mirza A. Beg may be reached at


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