Saturday, April 05, 2008

... Yunus

I just finished another book by Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner of 2006, called Banker to the Poor; Microlending and the Battle Against World Poverty.

This is a man who lives what he believes. Who has taken amazing strides to create paths for his fellow Bangladesh countrymen and women to work their way out of poverty and care for themselves.

In the final chapter of his book he spoke freely of what he would like the future to look like:

"So the real question is not so much where we will be in the year 2050, but where we would like the world to be.

By that time, I want to see a world free from poverty. This means there will not be a single human being on this plant who may be described as a poor person or who is unable to meet his or her basic needs. By then, the word "poverty'" will no longer have relevance. It will be understood only with reference to the past.

Poverty does not belong in civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum. That's where it will be. When schoolchildren go with their teachers and tour the poverty museums, they will be horrified to see the misery and indignity of human beings. They will blame their forefathers for tolerating this inhuman condition and for allowing it to continue in such a large segment of the population until the early part of the twenty-first century.

I have always believed that the elimination of poverty from the world is a matter of will. Even today we don't pay serious attention to the issue of poverty because the powerful remain relatively untouched by it. Most people distance themselves from the issue by saying that if the poor worked harder they wouldn't be poor.

When we want to help the poor, we usually offer them charity. Most often we use charity to avoid recognizing the problem and fining a solution for it. Charity becomes a way to shrug off our responsibility.

Charity is no solution to poverty. Charity only perpetuates poverty by taking the initiative away from the poor. Charity allows us to go ahead with our own lives without worrying about those of the poor. It appeases our consciences.

But the real issue is creating a level playing field for everybody, giving every human being a fair chance."

Muhammad Yunus
Banker to the Poor; Micro-Lending and the Battle Against World Poverty

1 comment:

Anonymous said...


I am glad you have been reading Dr. Yunus. He is an amazing person. I have several friends at Pepperdine Law who went and worked with him last summer, and missed the opportunity to hear him at Pepperdine b/c I was in London, but highly respect him and what he has/is/will be doing in the world of poverty and finance. Hope you are well.