Wednesday, November 17, 2004

A turn of the rudder - thoughts on poverty

Part One - Short on diagnosis, Long on cure

Imagine going to sleep hungry, every night of your life. Imagine waking up without a purpose for the day. Imagine not showering, shaving, and heading out the door. Maybe you wander, hoping to find a bit of work or a bite to eat. Or maybe you just sit, because you’ve lost any will to work or eat. Imagine spending most of the day disconnected from the world around you. You might think of when you were young. Imagine living for sleep, living in your dreams. Imagine going to sleep hungry, every nigh of your life.

Poverty damages people -- real, living, breathing people. A constant state of poverty can degrade the nobility of being born with an innate sense of spiritual significance. Poverty rarely allows its victims to meet their physical needs, which leaves no time to devote to spiritual and emotional needs, and depletes them of any self-worth they might have had. This may be the most dangerous result of poverty – you lose importance. God – if he even exists at all – does not care. And people, who you can actually see, don't even seem to notice.

There is no easy seven-step method to combating poverty. What works in some places may not work in others. What fails with some people may succeed with others. Sometimes people need financial assistance. Sometimes they need an opportunity. Sometimes they just need someone to care.

Leviathan state programs can't work because they impose national solutions to regional problems. On the other hand, some communities are failing to take compassionate action on behalf of those citizens who desperately need it. I, simple and inexperienced, see three items that need to be discussed concerning our brothers and sisters in need. They are not programs, but rather new ways of thinking. They are not solutions, because poverty might be a problem we never solve in a scientific sense. But they might (emphasis on might) invite a precious few to view the poor and their plight from a new perspective.

Over the next few days, I'll take a look at the pervasive mythology of poverty; how we de-emphasize the fight to correct poverty in America; and creative means to combat old problems. Maybe these things will not make a jot of difference. Maybe I'm being overly optimistic. Maybe. But if you know me, you know that doesn't happen too often. These ideas are pragmatic more than anything else, because I'm tired of theory, and I'm tired of hollow words. Let's just see where it takes us. And go from there.

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