22,000 Reasons

This is an uncomfortable poem, but I can’t not present it to you. It unsettles me…

A child has just died… one, two, three, four.

Another child has just died… tick, tock, shock.

And another child has just died – right now.

Every four seconds – could we stop the clock?


Every four seconds a child dies of hunger.

That’s twenty two thousand every day…

Dying in slow agony for want of a crust,

While I fret about bills and take home pay.


A child has just died… dare I picture it?

Can I see the sunken eyes seeing me?

The swollen belly matching my own?

Baby skin, wrinkled by sunless poverty?


A mute voice that would ask me why?

Why they never had a chance for life?

Why they never saw the wealth of others,

Or had a share of resources that are rife?


While I bellyache about the cost of living,

For these innocents, their belly… aches.

As they die, wasted by others’ greed, their

Parents, powerless, have only heartaches.


Are we really related by the umbilical cord

Of common humanity under a divine king?

And on this little planet on which we perch,

What obligations does our kinship bring?


While countless children starve and die,

Can we then live off the fat of the land?

And what will a loving father God say:

Will He show mercy? Will He understand?


How great is the guilt of the powerful few,

But are we in the bountiful world absolved?

Can we plead hardship and pressing affairs;

That in a global village, we’re not involved?


It seems to me that there are 22,000 reasons

To seek out a third world development charity,

And give a painful proportion of our means,

To do our bit to help alleviate such agony?


Abandoned dogs need us; snow leopards too;

And the church roof fund is always pleading…

So many good causes arrayed before us, but

Child or dog – which to save first from starving?