Question: Just how rich is Union County?
Answer: Union County is so rich that even poor people can get their prescription medication in plastic bottles.
Until very recently, I never thought that the ability to get prescription medication in plastic bottles was a sign of affluence. I’m also pretty certain that few if any other people living in Union County saw plastic medicine bottles as a sign of affluence, either.
Yet I’ve come to the conclusion that those plastic medicine bottles are a sign of just how wealthy communities like Union County are, especially in comparison to countries like the Republic of Malawi.
Until just before Christmas, I was only vaguely aware that Malawi existed, the extent of my knowledge being its name and that it was in Africa. Beyond that I didn’t know a thing about Malawi and still don’t know much about it. I do know more than I did just a few weeks ago, thanks to the Union Civitan Club.
The Civitans were collecting plastic medicine bottles to send to Malawi because when they need medication, the average Malawian doesn’t get it in a plastic bottle, but in whatever scraps of paper are available. This, as you might guess, can lead to all sorts of problems including persons losing needed pills or their medication become contaminated or, if they have multiple prescriptions, getting them mixed up, situations that can have potentially tragic results.
In doing the story about the efforts of the Civitans to help the people of Malawi, I did a little research on the country and found some more information on the poverty there. That in turn inspired me to do some research on Union County. As a result, I learned just how much wealthier our little county of less than 29,000 is compared to that nation of 16.7 million.
Economics is not my strong suit, but if I’m interpreting the data I found on the web correctly, Malawi has a per capita income of $900 while Union County has a per capita income of $15,877. In other words, Union County, a small, rural, underdeveloped community that for many years has been the redheaded stepchild of the Upstate when it comes to economic development has a per capita income nearly 18 times greater than the nation of Malawi.
That disparity in wealth is why even the poorest of Union County residents can get their prescription medication in plastic bottles while most Malawians can’t.
While Union County — or a lot of other counties in South Carolina or in the rest of the United States for that matter — may not be as wealthy as the more affluent areas of this country — we are still vastly better off than Malawi and a lot of the rest of Africa and other parts of what has been called the Third World.
What does all this say about Union County and Malawi? What does it say about the efforts the Civitans and those like them to help the people of Malawi?
First, it should be a reminder to the people of Union County that they are truly blessed to be Americans, to be part of Western Civilization and the modern world it created.
We should remember that, for all the problems we have in this county, this state, and this country, we are infinitely better off than much of the rest of the world.
Second, the actions of the Civitans are a reminder of the Christian nature of America and its people. It is not politically correct today to call America a Christian nation, but it is true nevertheless as is demonstrated by the Union Civitan Club. As commanded by Jesus Christ, they have sought to minister to the least among us, in this case the impoverished people of Malawi.
Such discipleship and charity has been a major part of the character of America’s Christian majority who have been and still are the most generous people on earth when it comes to helping those in need. This is something else we should give thanks for and resolve to continue being and doing.
Third, we should also remember that, for all the good it will do, the actions of the Civitans and others like them will not solve the problems facing Malawi, only the Malawians themselves can do that. We should nevertheless support and encourage such efforts because in doing so we are also improving and maybe even saving the lives of Malawians who, given the chance and the inspiration to do so, may one day help turn things around for their country.
We here in Union County are blessed to live here, to live in America, and we should always remember, as the Civitans apparently have, that those who are greatly blessed are expected in turn to greatly bless others.
Charles Warner is a staff writer for The Union Daily Times and can be reached at [email protected] Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not represent the newspaper’s opinion.