I have been reading a captivating book, “The Business Solution to Poverty,” by Paul Polak and Mal Warwick. It’s about helping the 2.7 billion people on our planet who exist with less than $2.00 per day (included in that number are about one billion people who exist on less than $1.00 per day).
Here in the United States we must all give thanks in so many ways as we have so much compared to those described in the book.
I read the story of one poor family in a village in India. They worked very hard and saved as best they could, with the dream of buying a water buffalo to help till their small rice field. Over time, they were able to realize that dream. Even better, they became able to let their children stay in school as long as they liked–even through college. But most children in that region only attend through the fifth grade.
We must give thanks to God for our abundance, not just our material means, but our freedom and so much more. One reason freedom is on my mind is that this past weekend, I hosted the president of the Cuban Council of Churches, an organization that represents about a million members. After the weekend with me in New Orleans, he was to head to San Francisco. He asked me if he would be able to visit Silicon Valley. I quickly said, “Yes, it’s a free country.” I could tell by his deep reaction how much that surprised and moved him. Freedom is just not present everywhere.
I’ve been to Cuba on seven separate mission trips. There the income of people is as desperate as what is described in the book I’m reading. I’ll never forget the time I was asked to bring nails–that’s right, nails–in my suitcase because they couldn’t even buy such basic items.
I also took this fine Cuban minister to Walgreen’s for him to get a medication for a colleague. He was amazed at the vast selection of items just a few blocks from my home.
Yes, give thanks America, for our means, for our freedom and the realization that free enterprise was essential for our nation to reach this stage of affluence. Central planning did not work in the twentieth century, nor is it working now in Cuba and North Korea now. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful for my country, flaws and all.