07 April 2007

Help Stop Crime

Two of the biggest precursors to crime are desperation and greed. Setting aside the latter, since there’s little one can do about that, I’m going to focus on desperation.

In Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, Jean Valjean (or some such name) is arrested for stealing a loaf of bread for his starving family. He saw no other option; it was either take such a risk or suffer his family to die. What would you have done in the same situation? (Mind you, it’s been six years since I read that book - that’s as well as I remember it)

I’m currently reading Ken Jones’ The New Social Face of Buddhism: A Call To Action. I’m particularly interested in bringing the compassion and philosophy of Buddhism into a socially/politically responsible way of life. There is a line in this book from Stephen Jenkins’ “Do Bodhisattvas Relieve Poverty” which states:

As in Pali sources, the satisfaction of material needs is seen as a prerequisite for moral development, and its absence is seen as the cause of moral decay.

According to Encarta, “The major causes of delinquency in various countries are related to each nation’s economic and social environment.”

When people are desperate, they might feel like the only way to get ahead is to resort to crime. Their great need far outweighs any moral objections they might still have. I like to give people the benefit of the doubt; if they’ve committed a crime, there could very well be a good reason for them having done it.

This is something that people have known for ages. So I think it’s time to put it into practice.

What can you do to help stop crime? Donate your time, effort, and money into helping to end poverty. When people aren’t starving, being kicked out of their homes, or having to choose between food and medicine, they’ll be happier, and thus less likely to commit a crime.

I’m not naïve. I’m not going to pretend that this would stop all crime and solve all our problems. It’s not that easy. But I have a feeling that charity is a better method than any other in prevention.

Here are some organizations that help to relieve poverty and make life easier:
The Alliance For Children's Rights (L.A.)
Boys Hope Girls Hope
Common Hope
Direct Relief
Freedom From Hunger
Global Impact
HOPE International
International Relief Teams
Islamic Relief USA
Jewish Fund For Justice
Love a Child
Medical Teams International
Mercy Corps
Operation USA
Project H.O.M.E.
Robin Hood Foundation (NYC)
Room To Read
World Neighbors
World Relief

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