Idealistically, Unrealistically

| 8/1/2012 9:14:12 AM

Tags: Beautiful and Abundant, Challenges, Beauty, Bryan Welch,

 I want my great-grandchildren to live in a place that is… 


Anyone who has traveled in the developing world during the past 30 years has seen the vast slums that engulf the cities. Slums occupy decaying sections of old cities and newly built shantytowns that often surround more affluent urban areas. About a billion people, worldwide, live in slums today and the United Nations expects that number to double by 2030. 

Slums are densely populated aggregations of minimal human shelter. Generally speaking slum dwellers are barely protected from the weather. Their sewage is not treated. Their children are not educated. Increasingly, the world’s slums host a variety of toxic occupations such as recycling used computer parts and scavenging landfills. 

Slums are not beautiful. I’m sure their residents find some beauty in them, but ugliness remains one of their defining factors. The slum’s residents want to make it smell better, look better and provide better shelter. 

An absence of beauty often indicates an absence of health, and the slums metastasizing around the world are indicators of a profound economic disease. As we’ve enhanced the lives of the world’s riches human beings, economic disparity has advanced like a cancer. It’s not that the poor live a lot worse than ever. As far back as recorded history can take us, there were unfortunate people who lived without shelter, clean water or adequate food. Their condition hasn’t changed appreciably in the entire span of human history. The richest residents of the 21st century, on the other hand, live lives of luxury that kings and emperors couldn’t have imagined until very recently. The rich need not ever smell an unpleasant smell or see an unpleasant sight. From birth to death they have access to temperate air, clean water and beautiful things. They can reach any terrestrial destination that pleases them in a few hours. They have drugs that soothe almost any pain. Almost any form of entertainment is available to them at the touch of a button. 

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