TALL tales, nothing short of exaggerated, are highly expected to have a happy ending. Talk about the king-size problem of the needy, and loud went the cartoon strip called “The Wizard of Id” with a declaration from a dwarfish monarch.
“In the future,” echoed the abracadabra of authority, “there will be no monetary amount used to define poverty.” Someone in the audience, despite his dire appearance, could only gasp: “Gee, I feel richer already.”
A chuckle smacks of bad taste even when the possibility of overcoming hopelessness and hunger looms as large as a pie in the sky.
Levity aside, there’s nothing over the top about stretching one’s reach high regarding the plight of the poor. Or so believes Bill Shore, the founder of an antipoverty organization called Share Our Strength (SOS).
Shore’s rescue call, in the face of “a familiar cycle of dysfunction and despair that is incongruous and unnecessary in prosperous America,” may as well bang from a belfry. In his memoir, “The Cathedral Within,” spreading the gospel of SOS means showcasing “the vast resources of the private sector to improve public life.”
When government is as good as a sleeping giant, snoring with politics as usual, “expanding the range of what is possible” can still be done by people “who may not think of themselves as community activists, civic leaders, or social entrepreneurs, or as part of a broader national service movement.”
Thus Shore testifies about the towering achievements of, among others, Gary Mulhair, who has created jobs and wealth through the largest self-supporting human service organization, and Geoffrey Canada, who has made a safe haven for thousands of children in the inner-city squalor of New York.
Their stories hold a candle to a “home-grown humanitarian movement that has caught international attention by building homes and communities.” As far as progress goes, “government doesn’t hold all the responsibilities or all the answers,” explains Tony Meloto, founder of the Gawad Kalinga (GK) Community Development Foundation, during a conference in Cebu recently.
Having already rescued at least 50,000 families from homelessness across the country, GK is all set “to transform the lives of the poor and create a massive community-based platform for productivity.” Nation-building, Meloto affirms, is doable by dint of communal cooperation “to end poverty by 2024.”
That may be too good to be true. But even if false prophets have long ripped our ears off the high frequencies of miracles, the least we could do—-out of respect for such reckless sky-is-the-limit leap of faith—-is speak low.