We All Have Something to Give
Many of the world’s faiths teach the practice of charity. Whether as a monetary donation, or taking time to visit those who are imprisoned or dying, many of us are called to use our gifts and blessings to help those who may seem without. Personally, I believe in returning at least ten percent of my financial wealth to God. While this act is not without hesitation for many of us caught within our own daily struggles, sometimes the reasons can be crystal clear when seen outside the boundary of our own lives.
The diseases that many of my patients suffer from could be prevented by simple public health practices taken for granted by many of us in developed nations. Even educated people living in poverty may not possess the resources or supplies necessary to prevent problems resulting from improper sanitation, personal and dental hygiene, nutrition, and disease prophylaxis. I have seen countless children with skin lesions covering their entire bodies, even in their mouths and ears. I held a four month old girl who was so emaciated her bones stood out gaunt like a child skeleton in a covering of flesh. I wonder what would have happened to these same children if their parents and communities had the social and medical infrastructure they needed to prevent these ghastly health issues. War obviously complicates these matters, either in ruining supply lines or economic and political stability, but the actions of individuals, either separate or united, can do amazing things to combat the trials these people face. I’m glad to say that through the efforts of the military units I worked with, many of those same children were cured of life threatening infection and malnutrition.
Whether through the efforts of the US military or other nations, or the donations of non-governmental organizations and religious groups, many people have made a dramatic difference in the lives of people suffering from war and poverty, even if they were complete strangers. It is this ethic of religion than can overcome the divisiveness of fundamentalism in many faiths, probably more so than any other. And it is through these actions of charity, that many of the perils of disease and suffering can be overcome, for the good of all.