So here are a few depressing statistics you’ll find in the June issue of DisciplesWorld:
Nearly 18 percent of children in the United States live in poverty. Worldwide, the statistic jumps to 50 percent — 1 billion kids in poverty.

More than 600 million children live without adequate shelter; 8.4 million work in child labor; and 2 million are being used in the commercial sex trade.

Then there are the 1 million kids living in detention, the 11 million who die each year before their fifth birthday, and the 16,000 who die from hunger-related causes every day.

And let’s not forget the 34 million children in sub-Sarahan Africa who have been orphaned by AIDS, a disease that is entirely preventable through education and simple precautions, and that is currently manageable in the U.S.

Now here are some statistics you won’t find in the magazine.

To date, according to the National Priorities Project (www.nationalpriorities.com), the U.S. has spent nearly $300 billion on its war in Iraq. That figure is based solely on Congressional appropriations. The Project further notes that the money spent on the Iraq war could instead have:

Fully funded global anti-hunger efforts for 11 years,

Insured 168,543,437 children for one year,

Ensured that every child in the world was given basic immunizations for 93 years, or

Fully funded worldwide AIDS programs for 28 years.

According to James Morris, executive director of the World Food Programme, with “even a small percentage of the commitment that the world has made to Iraq, you could feed every hungry child in the world.

Now, a new study by Columbia University economist Joseph E. Stiglitz, who won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2001, and Harvard lecturer Linda Bilmes concludes that the total costs of the Iraq war could top the $2 trillion mark. This total, which is far above the government’s pre-war projections, takes into account the long-term healthcare costs for the 16,000 U.S. soldiers injured in Iraq so far.

As a mother, I cringe at the thought of babies dying from the slow, tortuous effects of gnawing hunger; of toddlers languishing from diseases that are entirely preventable; of small children working under conditions we wouldn’t sanction for our pets.

As a Christian, a follower of the Christ who warned, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” I am ashamed.

Next month, I will participate in Pentecost 2006: Building a Covenant for a New America. The event, sponsored by Sojourners magazine and hosted by National City Christian Church in Washington, D.C., invites participants to “three days of putting faith into action to build the movement to overcome poverty in the U.S., and throughout the world.”

I hope I’ll return with ideas for how we at the magazine, and you our readers, can work in concrete ways to improve life for our children, at home and around the world.

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