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Jay Lawlor, Economics and Poverty

Date Added: September 18, 2011 10:04:30 AM
Author: pds20
Category: Society
When I talk to people in my community, I often hear them say that they're concerned about the well being of their own family and friends. They might talk about how money seems a little tighter these days, and how people might need to tighten their belts and just focus on their own troubles for the time being. As an economist and an Episcopal priest, I find this point of view to be a bit depressing. As an economist, I've spent my career thinking about economic decision making. I've studied how wealth is distributed around the world, and how it is often centered in a small proportion of the world's population. I've worked with people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and I've heard them describe the very real injustices of inequality and poverty. I've become convinced, as an economist, that it would be easy for wealthy countries to devote just a bit of money to developing nations and that little bit of money could do great things to ease the world's suffering. As a priest, I've spent years talking about the responsibility of sharing and equality. I've counseled people to focus on our common humanity and to understand the pain and suffering of our fellow humans. These lessons are a common thread that runs throughout the Bible, and they're just as relevant now as they were back then. I truly believe we have a mission to help others, as long as we're truly serious about living our lives in a Christian manner. So with my background as a priest and an economist, it's easy to see why poverty would consume my thoughts. I feel as though there are simple answers out there, but we all need to be brave enough to put those answers into action. For example, providing a $10 insecticide treated bednet to a family in an African village can prevent the spread of malaria. It can be that simple to make such a profound and lasting difference. I am currently devoting my time to advancing sustainable projects, and I am continuing to talk about economics and religion. I'm hoping I can convince more people to fight poverty with me. We all need to get involved and make a difference. It's just the right thing to do, and it's time for all of us to get started.About the author: Jay Lawlor holds a master's degree in economics from the University of Connecticut and he holds a master's of divinity from the Episcopal Divinity School. Jay Lawlor worked as a parish priest for several years, and wrote many articles about religion and economic matters for Episcopal publications. He's no longer working full-time in parish ministry, but he remains devoted and connected to the church. Find more information on Jay Lawlor at
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