Thursday, September 25, 2008

Millennium Development Goals: Red or Green?

We're in the midst of the fall season, and most of the New Mexico chile harvest has started to appear in farmers markets, grocery stores and produce outlets around the state.

The chiles we're seeing are still in their "green" stage, although a few ripe red chiles or green chiles with red streaks are scattered in some of the bins at the local grocery chain. New Mexico chiles, often known in other parts of the country as "Anaheim peppers," are one of the most visible symbols of our state, along with the Zia sun symbol and the roadrunner.

Because chiles are so important to New Mexico and to me personally (see picture of my harvest from several years ago), I would like to draw a connection between spicy peppers and the Millennium Development Goals. A stretch? Perhaps. But bear with me. ...

First, let me explain a couple of things.

The reason why we are putting a special emphasis on the the Millennium Development Goals is because world leaders are gathering in New York today, Sept. 25, to to chart progress on the MDGS. Today, we join Episocopalians for Global Reconciliation and many other people of faith with prayers and appeals to world leaders to take more vigorous actions to bring us closer to meeting these eight targets to end global poverty. While it appears unlikely that we can meet the goal of cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015, we can still take decisive steps in that direction.

Now let me direct you to the official New Mexico state question: Red or Green? If you go to any restaurant that serves New Mexican food, you will invariably be asked which type of chile you would like with your meal. There are three choices: 1) red 2) green 3) Christmas (a combination of both).

I bring this up for the very reason that we are actually given a choice at our favorite New Mexican restaurant. But this is not limited to our dining options. Most of us who live in the U.S., Western Europe, Japan and other wealthy nation have all sorts of choices. Our economic system creates wealth so that we can have choices.

Conversely, many people in poor rural communities around the world do not have choices. You've seen the dire statistics (borrowed from Rev. Mike Kinman's blog):

*1.2 billion people living on less than $1 a day.
*110 million children who aren't allowed even a full course of primary education
*Half a million women a year dying of complications from childbirth and pregnancy.
*A child under 5 dying every three seconds from preventable, treatable causes
*8,000 people (more than died in the September 11 attacks) dying each day of HIV/AIDS

So our ultimate goal in promoting the Millennium Development Goals is to create basic choices for many people around the world, not only to allow them to survive but to create the conditions where they can live a dignified life.


Robin said...

Excellent Post. I think we often take our food choices for granted when so many in this global world have no choices at all.

Sheriff of Wordingham said...

Great post! I'll never hear the question "red or green?" in the same way again.