Looking for another reason to love Ben Affleck?
The actor, 40, has been married for nearly 8 years to one of our favorite celebrity moms, Jennifer Garner. The high-profile couple seem like the perfect parents to their three adorable kids: Violet, 7, Seraphina, 4, and Samuel, 1.
After sweeping the recent awards season with his mega-hit Argo, Ben is making headlines these days for a very non-Hollywood cause.
The Academy Award-winner is taking the Live Below the Line Challenge, and living on $1.50 a day.
Why $1.50? According to their site, this amount is the U.S. equivalent of the extreme poverty line, which 1.4 billion people worldwide must find a way to survive under.
The Good Will Hunting hunk recently blogged about the 5-day challenge, admitting its flaws while praising the cause.
“Of course, in truth, it’s impossible for anyone to live so cheaply in the United States,” Ben blogs via Huffington Post. “Insurance, rent, mortgage, utilities, cable, lease payments — all tick off a daily expense without us handing over money each day. For the vast majority, even starvation wouldn’t mean living on less than a few dollars each day.”
He adds: “So, why am I spending today eating rice and beans and drinking tap water (which also costs money)? In order to bring attention to the fact that more than a billion people on earth truly do subsist every day on less than it costs to get a half a gallon of gas here. Additionally, I want to encourage people to look at the work my organization, the Eastern Congo Initiative, is doing in Congo — a place where millions of people have died over the last decade, most from lack of nutrition and the diseases that come with extreme poverty. You can find out more at easterncongo.org.”
Ben goes on to admit the flaws of the effort, but encourages people to acknowledge poverty issues.
“There are valid criticisms of this effort,” he writes. “Some accuse it of making the issue of extreme poverty into little more than celebrity Twister. It is also true that celebrities often promote (knowing or unknowingly) lifestyles that price out all but the richest Americans. Why should they be lecturing Americans on poverty? Fair enough — and indeed there is a disgraceful inequity of wealth in this country. In fact, a nice side effect of this effort would be if people became attuned to the effort to similarly ameliorate the tragedy of hunger in America. FeedingAmerica.org is doing a great job (disclosure, I am on the Entertainment Council).”
The actor asks us all to consider our privileged lives, and take global responsibility.
“The issue is not that we should feel guilty about owning cars and Xboxes; taking vacations or buying fancy shoes,” Ben shares. “It’s that we should understand that we have a responsibility as a country to be good global citizens. We have a responsibility to come to the aid of our neighbors, some of who are literally starving to death.”
“The U.S. has five percent of the world’s population and 35 percent of global wealth,” he adds. “More egregiously (inverting our own famous yardstick for unfairness), the bottom half of the world has only one percent of the world’s wealth; that’s more than three billion people in the other “one percent.”
“We should not stop producing or consuming or trying to turn the engine of progress here — but we should have a sense of noblesse oblige — meaning one must act in a fashion that conforms with the reputation that one has earned or, alternately, “whoever claims to be noble must conduct himself nobly.” As a nation we both claim a noble position in the world and assert a reputation for fostering freedom, human rights and fairness here and abroad. If indeed we are to live up to that, we cannot abide having some among us who starve.”
“Today I engage in the minor act of eating rice and beans to do my tiny part,” Ben concludes. “I encourage others to do whatever they can, however minimal.”
What do you think of Ben’s efforts? Do you think you could live on $1.50 a day?