100 People: A World Project

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On the day after Christmas last year, I opened my refrigerator and was confronted by a massive quantity of food.  My first thought was how were we going to eat all that food without it spoiling?  We have so much and others have so little, or none.  Why do we keep wanting more?  My initial inclination is to blame Madison Avenue or the entertainment industry.  The images we are continually bombarded with are of affluent living, which might give you the impression that you don’t have enough to live the “good life”.  I used to think that.  I ‘m embarrassed to admit that I used to watch “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” and “Dynasty”.  Then one of my coworkers posted, “If the world were a village of 100 people”,   www.thediversityspeaker.com.

The world population has now reached 7.53 billion people. This milestone inspired sociologists to conduct research to update their statistics, and the changes over the past 5 years are remarkable. In 2006, only 1 person out of 100 would have had a college education– today that number has jumped to 7 thanks in part to advances in higher education in Asia. The detailed research and source information can be found at  https://www.100people.org and the statistics provided by Donella Meadows in 1990 that originally inspired this project can be viewed here.

If the World were 100 PEOPLE:
50 would be female
50 would be male

26 would be children
There would be 74 adults,
8 of whom would be 65 and older

There would be:
60 Asians
15 Africans
14 people from the Americas
11 Europeans

33 Christians
22 Muslims
14 Hindus
7 Buddhists
12 people who practice other religions
12 people who would not be aligned with a religion

12 would speak Chinese
5 would speak Spanish
5 would speak English
3 would speak Arabic
3 would speak Hindi
3 would speak Bengali
3 would speak Portuguese
2 would speak Russian
2 would speak Japanese
62 would speak other languages

83 would be able to read and write; 17 would not

7 would have a college degree
22 would own or share a computer

77 people would have a place to shelter them
from the wind and the rain, but 23 would not

1 would be dying of starvation
15 would be undernourished
21 would be overweight

87 would have access to safe drinking water
13 people would have no clean, safe water to drink*

I think the takeaway here is to not only celebrate the beauty of the world’s diversity, but to not get so caught up in our own lives that we forget about our brothers and sisters all around the globe.  It doesn’t really matter what we do and don’t have, what matters is that we share that wealth with others.  And, if you are reading this blog, you are fortunate and you are very wealthy, indeed.

*Sources: 2012 – Fritz Erickson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Ferris State University (Formerly Dean of Professional and Graduate Studies, University of Wisconsin – Green Bay) and John A. Vonk, University of Northern Colorado, 2006; Returning Peace Corps Volunteers of Madison Wisconsin, Unheard Voices: Celebrating Cultures from the Developing World, 1992; Donella H. Meadows, The Global Citizen, May 31, 1990.



“Poverty is not an accident.  Like slavery and apartheid it is man-made.  And can be removed by the actions of human beings.”                                    Nelson Mandela

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