In Africa more than 12 million children have been orphaned by HIV/AIDS. Dying, knowing you are leaving your children to fend for themselves in an environment that is hardscrabble beyond our capacity to imagine, that would be the end of the world. Losing your parents in such an environment, that, too, would be the end of the world.
Many of those deaths, orphaning millions of children, can be prevented. The work of organizations like Partners in Health is delaying and preventing the end of the world. Our dollars can further that work.
Here in the United States our “war on drugs” has resulted in the incarceration of millions of young men, especially young men from poor and non-white families. These young men do not use drugs more frequently than other people, but they are disproportionately prosecuted and convicted in our “war on drugs.” Having the scarlet letter, FELONY, stamped on their life histories is the end of the world for many of these young men, shutting down all kinds of opportunities.
We can change that. For many of these young men, a change in drug policy would mean their world does not end in their teens and twenties. We could release them to contribute to society and enjoy life.
Fascination with the end of the world too often blinds us to the very real opportunities we have to mend the world. We cannot direct the course of asteroids. We cannot tell God when to schedule the Second Coming. But we can take actions that will mean the extension of life and the beautification of the world for millions of people. For millions, whether or not the world ends today is in our hands. Don’t blow it.