Peter McVerry, SJ
There is a homeless person sitting in the street, begging. Passing by, I wonder whether to give him money or not. On the one hand, I feel sorry for him, no place to go, hungry, cold, bored. On the other hand, maybe he isn’t really homeless, or even if he is, maybe he wants money for drugs or alcohol and I may actually be making his situation worse by giving him money. It’s all very confusing.
In the Millennium, a sustained campaign was waged to abolish or reduce the debt owed by the poorest Third World countries, who were being crippled by the interest they had to pay on loans they had received from the economically developed world. The campaigners argued that this repayment was preventing health and education programmes from being funded and was therefore costing lives and preventing development. Others argued that corruption was so extensive in many of these countries and spending on arms and military so high that to simply cancel the debt would make their ruling elites even wealthier, their armies even better equipped and increase the oppression and suffering of the people, not reduce it. It’s all very confusing.