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2006-10-19 / View From the Middle

View From The Middle

These Teenage Males Should Emulate Nobel Prize Winner
By Charles Rogers


A report appeared this week in major periodicals indicating that at least half of all teenage boys think a person has to lie and cheat sometimes in order to succeed. Surveyors from the prestigious Edna Josephson Institute of Ethics in Los Angeles quizzed 37,000 youngsters around the country, finding that children going to high schools in America "earnestly believe ethics and character count in life and business, but they live by a far more cynical code."

The study was reported in the New York Daily News, which, within the same week the survey was reported, also told of an astoundingly opposite indication of values and character personified by the new holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, Muhammad Yunus, an economist from Bangladesh. Instead of thinking of ways to bilk or cheat his fellow man, Yunus decided to use his skills and the values that America's teenagers - or at least half of them, according to the Josephson survey, prefer to ignore - to benefit his fellow man.

I first heard of Yunus a few years ago when the Associated Press interviewed him, noting his work as an economist, in that almost poorest of poor countries, and how he established the Grameen Bank there. It was unbelievably impressive in this age to hear of someone who has helped millions rise out of poverty.

Millions. Think about it. While some of God's creations are allowing themselves to be taken over by greed, by cynicism, by apathy towards their fellow man, here is a person who has channeled his energies in the opposite direction. Here is someone who saw a need in man and decided to to do something about it.

Millions of people have been helped; while half the youths here are trying to figure a way they can sneak into college by cheating on the SAT.

The plan by this 65-year-old man who can move mountains was to make what has since been officially called "microcredit" loans to impoverished people so they could start small businesses - loans as low as a few dollars, in some cases.

The so-called "microfinance" essentially cuts out the middle man in his bank by not requiring any collateral . None. To top it off - and to see his faith in man - to this date, Yunus' bank has seen a recovery rate of almost 99 percent. That means only one percent of the people to whom he has loaned money has run out on him. Since 1982, his bank has loaned

$5. 72 billion.

In describing his mode of operation, story after story has been told, such as that of a Bangladesh woman who borrowed less than $30 from his bank so she could buy a chicken. The chicken's eggs hatched and she got more chickens; they gave her eggs and she sold the eggs and there were more chickens and more eggs...etc.,etc. As the story goes, with each egg, the woman is pulled further from the devastation of poverty.

Yunu's vision is to see poverty eliminated in the world. Period. While we know that will never happen, we do see a man who can bring hope to millions. All they have to do is show that they are willing to work for it. With work, there will eventually be peace., Yunus says.Thus, the Nobel Peace Prize.

And while we read of the efforts of someone on the other side of the world to make things better, we also read of half of the next generation threatening to make it worse. Frankly, I prefer to think of the other half of the teenage flock and what they have to offer. Maybe there is a Muhammad Yunus among them.

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