This past week, while working on trying to describe my theology of social ministry (diakonia), I came across this site. The Global Rich List calculates your place on the list of the world’s richest people. I have to admit that when I put my number in I was in the top 1%. I’m not sure if this should be a source of pride or shame.
I wonder about the usefulness of this number though. Certainly, those of us in North America are blessed with wealth and we use the resources of the world at a rate that is well out of proportion to our population, but, to live here is expensive as well. I’m not saying that in any way that I am impoverished, I’m not. But if I put the annual income of the patrons of Soup and More, the soup kitchen that I have been volunteering at, into the web page they are calculated to be in the top 10% in the world. These are people that have to chose between buying groceries and paying for a place to live. Yes they do live in a country that provides social services for them that are unmatched in the world, but, if they had the income they do in one of the many third world countries of the world they would be wealthy in comparison to their neighbours.
I guess I’m arguing that just using a number to figure out your place in the world does not really tell the whole story.
For those of us who are well blessed though, it is a sobering reminder.