INTERNATIONAL DESK: THE CHANCES are most Plain Truth readers consider themselves to be average people. And the chances are they are completely wrong!
It takes the average American worker 12½ hours of labor to earn the money to feed his average family of four for a week, the statisticians tell us. He needs another 20 hours to buy a suit, but only 22 minutes to buy his wife a pair of hose. If you are an average Canadian, Australian or West European it will take you a little longer.
Yet the average person in the industrialized world has his problems these days. Inflation eats into his pay packet. His home is becoming harder to buy and maintain.
Even so very few of our readers are average. The reason is simple to understand.
In Washington, D.C., at the intersection of 18th Street and Connecticut Avenue, there is a world population clock. It does not show the passing of time. Instead, it counts people by measuring the increase in the world's population — three every second — more than 10,000 an hour.
On Friday, March 15, at 11:45 a.m., this clock calculated that the world's population passed 4,500 million for the first time. The truly average man is somewhere among them. And if we could find him, those of us who think we are average might begin to understand what it means to be "above average."
The average man and his family live in Asia. More than half of the world's population is there. He is certainly among the 75 percent of all people who live in what is called — rather optimistically — the "developing world." Though more and more of the world's people are moving to cities, as rising prices and unemployment drive them from rural areas, we can expect the average family to be still peasants — making a precarious living from about two acres of land. The income will be about $400 a year. (Note: a year, not a month)
Since worldwide literacy is now slightly better than 50 percent, the average man can probably read and write — to a limited extent. His wife, however, cannot — literacy among women in the developing world lags far behind men. His children might have the chance to go to school — at least until the age of 12. But their attendance might not be too regular, for they are often sick. On any given day, half the world's children are sick. Malnutrition is the major culprit.
Our average family is not starving, although there may be times when they go hungry. Their diet is far from adequate. From half to two thirds of the world's population have a protein deficient diet. (That statistic does not include those in rich countries who opt to exist on junk food) Our average man will never own a car or a television, but he might have a transistor radio. He can expect to live about 58 years, during which time he will have four or five children. He may have had one or two more who died before they reached the age of 5.
He will never have known a real vacation. Nor will he ever live in anything better than a shack. He will never, of course, have a telephone, subscribe to a magazine or own a refrigerator. Hot and cold running water is an unimagined luxury — if he is fortunate he shares a tap with his neighbor. And of course, he has no insurance or investments and little if any savings.
Inflation worries him too. A Western family may spend 25 percent of income on food. If food prices doubled, it would certainly make things difficult. But spare a thought for the average housewife who must spend more than 50 percent of the family income on food today. What is she going to do tomorrow if prices double?
Now before you sympathize too much with the lot of the average man, remember that he is at least average. Life is hard — he is surviving (barely) — but he is making it. Below him are the below average — about one thousand million people — nearly a quarter of mankind.
They have incomes of around $70 a year. They live constantly on the brink of starvation. Among them children die like flies — about one every 10 seconds at a conservative estimate. (In the time it takes you to read this article, about 50 children will have died of hunger) Their own life span is only about 40 years. Illiterate, disease ridden, destitute for them the question is, "Is there life before death?"
Our average man considers himself lucky not to be among them. But he is worried. Each time there is a crop failure, a natural disaster, a war or a hike in the price of oil — more average families slide off into the abyss to join the hopelessly poor.
Overall, the world is becoming a more wretched place. Plain Truth readers know this. They also know that it is going to get worse — and then it is going to get much better.
But the average man doesn't know this good news. He would be happy just to be allowed to continue to live "by bread alone"!
Some years ago, a minister of the Worldwide Church of God serving in a Third World country organized a movie for his congregation. One scene showed some ordinary houses in an ordinary street in England. A child solemnly asked the minister, "When God brings His Kingdom to this earth, will we all be able to have houses like that?"
That tells the story. If the average family could have what the average Plain Truth reader has now, he would think the Millennium had come. He would be more than satisfied. But God wouldn't.
Although it is highly possible that the average man has never heard of Jesus Christ, he is included in His plans. When Christ returns to rule, the whole earth will become full of the knowledge of God (Isaiah 11:9). None whom Christ will rule need have to settle for subsistence living on the edge of disaster. It will be abundant life for everyone (John 10:10).
When resources are properly and fairly harnessed in the world tomorrow, and nations concentrate on peace instead of war, the lot of the average man will steadily improve. His crops will grow and his land will produce. Fear of hunger and disease will be a memory. No one will ever threaten him again (Micah 4:3-5).
Freed from the constant problem of staying alive, all people will begin to understand why they are alive. Then the whole human race will begin to move towards the attainment of its true and intended potential.
The Kingdom of God will lift forever the crushing weight of ignorance and superstition that enslaves most of our fellow human beings. Including, of course, that average man — wherever he is.
I'd like to feel that he could now read this and tell it to his family. But until things change, he will never have a magazine — even a free one — until the world tomorrow.