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Gary Haugen on The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now at TED Transcript

Full text – Gary Haugen, founder of International Justice Mission, talks on The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now at TED

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Gary Haugen – Human rights attorney

To be honest, by personality, I’m just not much of a crier. But I think in my career that’s been a good thing. I’m a civil rights lawyer, and I’ve seen some horrible things in the world.

I began my career working police abuse cases in the United States. And then in 1994, I was sent to Rwanda to be the director of the UN’s genocide investigation. It turns out that tears just aren’t much help when you’re trying to investigate a genocide. The things I had to see, and feel and touch were pretty unspeakable.

What I can tell you is this: that the Rwandan genocide was one of the world’s greatest failures of simple compassion. That word, compassion, actually comes from two Latin words: cum passio, which simply mean “to suffer with.” And the things that I saw and experienced in Rwanda as I got up close to human suffering, it did, in moments, move me to tears. But I just wish that I, and the rest of the world, had been moved earlier. And not just to tears, but to actually stop the genocide.

Now by contrast, I’ve also been involved with one of the world’s greatest successes of compassion. And that’s the fight against global poverty. It’s a cause that probably has involved all of us here. I don’t know if your first introduction might have been choruses of “We Are the World,” or maybe the picture of a sponsored child on your refrigerator door, or maybe the birthday you donated for fresh water. I don’t really remember what my first introduction to poverty was but I do remember the most jarring.

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