A behavioral experiment was recently done to see if people are more moved to compassion when they here about the suffering of a million people in poverty or just the suffering of one specific person in poverty. People had more compassion when they heard about just the one person. Author and World Vision President Richard Stearns expounds on this...
"The story of one child was more compelling than the suffering of millions. Wow! Do you see the disturbing significance of this? Human beings, when enabled to depersonalize a large group of people, respond to them with far less compassion. So the very statistics that should mobilize us to urgent action actually do just the opposite; they seem to excuse our inaction. We can perhaps extrapolate this finding to help understand the existence of other appaling realities in our world. If we are able to objectify whole classes of people so that we don't think of them as persons equal to us, the unthinkable becomes possible. Was it not this flaw in our human character that allowed the Holocaust and the Rwanda genocide to occur? Might this explain how Christian people not only tolerated but promoted and sustained slavery for so many centuries?"
Richard Stearns in The Hole in Our Gospel
With this in mind, you must now think about these demanding questions your self: What are the realities of poverty in the world today? What are other reasons that make people indifferent to extreme poverty? Why am I indifferent to it? What are ways in which I can act?
Each student will write a letter to their class with three objectives: (1) explain the seriousness of poverty through three different facts/statistics about world poverty and 3 different facts/statistics about American poverty, (2) offer two thought-out reasons of why people may be indifferent and unaware of the seriousness of poverty, and (3) inform two ways that individuals can make a difference in eradicating poverty across the globe. The letter should be 1 ½ -2 pages long (12-point font, double-spaced). The statistics should be factual, the causes for indifference should be backed with reasonable and reflective argument, and the ways to make a difference should be thoroughly explained.
. The two students will work together at investigating world and american poverty. They will first look up http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats
to study world poverty and then http://money.cnn.com/2004/12/22/news/economy/poverty_overview/index.htm
to study american poverty. After reading these, they will gather 3 stats from each website that brings out the seriousness of poverty.
2. Students will think out why people are so indifferent unaware to poverty. They will jot these ideas down on a piece of paper.
3. The two will break up into different roles, each researching different ways in which individuals can get involved to help out the issues. Student 1 will look up http://www.one.org/us/actnow/
Student 2 will look up http://www.feedthechildren.org/site/PageServer?pagename=org_club_1000.
4. Each student will then write a letter to their class with three objectives: (1) explain the seriousness of poverty through three different facts/statistics about world poverty and 3 different facts/statistics about American poverty, (2) offer two thought-out reasons of why people may be indifferent and unaware of the seriousness of poverty, and (3) inform two ways that individuals can make a difference in eradicating poverty across the globe.
|Statistics of Poverty||provides one or no statistics of poverty for America and the world||provides two statistics of poverty for both America and the world but the authenticity of the facts is questionable||describes two facts of poverty for both America and the world and the statistics are factual||Describes three facts of poverty of both America and the world and the statistics are factual Describes three facts of poverty of both America and the world and the statistics are factual |
|Reasons for Indifference to Poverty||provides one or zero reasons for indifference and/or thoughtfulness and explanation are completely lacking.||provides two reasons for indifference that attain some thoughtfulness but the explanation could have been better argued.||provides two reasons for indifference that are well thought-out, and the explanation and argument is acceptable||provides two reasons for indifference that are well thought-out, and the explanation and argument is excellent|
|Ways individuals can get involved to help.||provides one or zero ways of individual action and the ways are not explained at all||provides two ways of individual action, but the ways are not well-explained||provides two ways of individual action that are decently explained.||provides two ways of individual action that are thoroughly explained|
|Stated Objective or Performance|| || || || |
Now that you have learned about the seriousness of poverty in our world, probed reasons to why people are indifferent to it, and discovered ways that anyone can get involved, you are ready for action. The question is now whether you will be indifferent or whether you will act.
Credits & References:
The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns