Ancestral energy lives in the stars above us, the stones beneath us. Their memory gathers in oceans, rivers and seas. It hums its silent wisdom within the body of every tree.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Perspective, or If the World Were 100 People

In 1994, the world population was at 5,606,000,000 people. In 2004, it rose to 6,387,000,000 people. It’s 2014 and the world population is now 7,141,000,000. It’s only going to keep rising. It’s a scary thought, knowing our resources are finite. But that’s another post for another time. This post is about perspective.
We’re at a cultural crossroads and we have two choices. Either we decide that there are too many people in the world and we care only about ourselves and we could give a crap about our neighbors. On that path we take what we need, whether or not we’re taking from someone else. Or we understand that there are so many people in the world, we are not and cannot be more important than another. On that path we understand that we should be working towards making sure what we have is shared as equally as possible.
We should be taking care of each other. It’s hard to do when money is the bottom line and big business seems to have more legal protections than people do. How can we fight that? What is required is perspective on a smaller scale. It’s really hard to imagine 7.1 billion people, and harder still to care about that many people when, in our lives, we juggle maintaining relationships with and caring for less than a hundred people.
But what if the world was only 100 people? There is a list of statistics that has been going around since 1990, and is often updated. Unsurprisingly, the numbers in it change constantly. For instance, in 1990 only 1 out of 100 people had a college education. In fourteen years, that number has risen to 7. I found this to be an interesting exercise in where I fall in the larger, yet more simplified, statistical world.
Disclaimer: The actual statistics may vary slightly from what I have. I tried to find the most current numbers for each category but they are not all from the same year. For my purposes, this post is about creating perspective, not accuracy.

If the world were a village of 100 people…
  • There are 50 women and 50 men.
  • There are 66 adults aged 15-64, 26 children 14 and under, and 8 adults 65 and older.
  • Only 30 are white; 70 are not.
  • 89 people are heterosexual; 11 are homosexual.
  • The continental breakdown is: 60 people live in Asia, 15 in Africa, 11 in Europe, 9 in South America and the Caribbean, and 5 in North America.
  • 12 people speak Chinese, 5 Spanish, 5 English, 3 Arabic, 3 Hindi, 3 Bengali, 3 Portuguese, 2 Russian, 2 Japanese. 62 people, more than half of our village, speak other languages than these.
  • 33 people are Christian, 22 are Muslim, 14 are Hindu, 7 Buddhism; 5 people find their spirituality in nature; 7 people practice other religions and 12 more do not align themselves with a religion.
  • 48 people can’t speak or act on their faith because of fear of harassment, imprisonment, torture, or death; 52 people can.
  • 77 people have shelter from the elements; 23 do not.
  • 51 people live in urban areas; 49 people live in rural ones.
  • 63 people are adequately nourished, or better; 21 people are overweight, 15 people are undernourished and 1 person is dying of starvation.
  • 87 people have access to safe drinking water; 13 do not.
  • 68 people breathe clean air; 32 people do not.
  • 48 people live on less than $2 US dollars a day.
  • 12 of our 26 children live in poverty.
  • 30 people are unemployed.
  • 9 people are disabled.
  • 78 people have electricity; 22 do not.
  • 65 people have improved sanitation conditions; 19 people have unimproved toilets (which basically means they at least have a poo pit somewhere away from the room they live in); 16 people do not have toilets.
  • 83 people can read and write; 17 cannot.
  • 7 people have a college degree; (93 people do not, less 26 children means…) 67 adults without one.
  • 22 people share or own a computer while 78 people do not have access to their own computer.
  • Only 30 people are active internet users.
  • 75 out of 100 people are cell phone users.
  • 40 people have no shoes.
  • Less than 1% of people have HIV/AIDS.
  • 6 people own 59% of the wealth.

Out of 100 people:
I am one of the 50 women in the village and one of the 30 white people. I am one of the 66 adults under the age of sixty-five. I am one of 11 queer folk. I am one of the 5 people from North America and one of the 5 people, out of 100, who speak English. I am one of 5 people who find my spirituality in nature, and am one of 52 people who can practice my faith freely.
I am one of 77 people who have shelter I rent and one of 78 people with electricity. I am one of 51 people living in an urban area, though it blends its edges with the rural farms that feed us. I am one of 21 overweight people and technically one of the 48 people living on less than $2 a day. I am one of the 30 unemployed. I am one of 87 people with access to safe drinking water, one of 68 people breathing clean air, and one of 65 with a flush toilet in my bathroom.
I am one of the 83 people who can read and write and one of 7 people who got a college degree. I am one of 22 people with a computer and one of the 30 active internet users. I am one of the 60 people who owns shoes (I have four pairs), and, I am one of the 25 people who do not own a cell phone.

I am unique. I am one of a kind, among many who are one of a kind. I am special, but not more than another. May we all find our way to peace, tolerance, and coexistence.

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