Time flies, but the world still needs us
Life moves quickly.
I was talking to someone recently about how often it seems we will begin a week with the idea that we have plenty of time to catch up on all the things left neglected from the prior week, only to find that, by the weekend, yet another week has escaped us, evaporating hardly before we knew what happened.
There is no time of the year when this happens more than during the summer. Meanwhile February, the shortest month of all, creeps along like, well, molasses in February.
It’s also easy at times, with so much demanding our time, energy and attention, to lose perspective on the world that goes about its daily business, regardless of whether or not we pay attention.
So for those of us who fall victim to such myopia, I thought I’d offer a handful of facts about what happens both nationally and globally, every day of the year.
On any given day, approximately 170,000 new babies are born. With more than 70,000 daily deaths, this means our world is growing at a rate of nearly 100,000 people every single day.
More than 600 people immigrate to the United States illegally in that same amount of time, and our prisons expand by 135 inmates as well. More than 1,100 couples will get divorced in America alone today, and 34 species will become extinct forever.
Before you eat dinner tonight, almost 14,000 people will learn that they have cancer and 5,500 will contract HIV, though many will not know it for years.
More than 58,000 people will have an abortion, and nearly 100 women will die in the process.
More than 38 million barrels of oil will be produced, generating $2.3 billion in wealth. The Earth will get warmer by a few millionths of a degree, and 16,400 acres of forest will disappear. Well over 45,000 new cars will be produced, as well as 100,000 new computers and 137,000 bicycles.
Nearly 4,000 people will die from AIDS-related illness today, though more than twice as many will fall victim to terminal cancer. Tuberculosis will claim almost 2,000 lives, and diarrhea will take nearly 2,400 more. Automobiles will be involved in 1,500 fatalities, and 1,100 lost souls will commit suicide.
Our national debt will grow by about $1.3 billion today, placing a long-term burden of more than $4 a day, plus interest, on every man, woman and child. Before you wake up tomorrow, more than 19 million more metric tons of carbon dioxide will be released into our atmosphere, simply through burning fossil fuels.
I was annoyed recently when my dishwasher broke. I get irritated when a fast food restaurant gets my order wrong, or when I get snagged in traffic. Sometimes my son can be a complete brat, and my wife and I argue about things such as who will clean out the litter box this week. Sound familiar? And does any of this energy we seem to pour into such daily tasks, worries and preoccupations seem a little less important, given some of these statistics?
Some of us would love nothing more than to “save the world,” whatever that means. Considering such overwhelming need, death, disease, catastrophe and climactic crisis can overwhelm us to the point of paralysis – if we let it.
Neither self-obsession with our own daily minutiae nor superman-like commitment to putting the world to bed all nice and tidy gets us anywhere. However, with awareness comes a sense of obligation. With obligation comes a push for action, on some scale, no matter how small.
Part of a faith community’s responsibility is to raise awareness on local, national and global levels. But further, it must charge us with a call to action, providing us along the way with the support and tools we need to make the changes we have come to believe are important.
You’re not going to save the world from itself. But if you think and pray even a little bit about the needs right around you and the gifts you have at your disposal to meet them, God most certainly will put you to work, so be ready.