Saturday, October 19, 2013

How One Looks at Poverty

One can look at poverty in the United States and blame the poor as victims of their own failures, inadequacies or general lack of "get-up-and-go." 

It's handy to do this, because the observer is conveniently slipping off the hook of responsibility - the kind of human, humane, responsibility that sees the deep connections between the poverty of many and the systems of the few. And that's the rub. Even a marginally successful person, if telling the truth, will have to admit to many "lucky breaks" and "free lunches" all along the way, as the system tilted favorably toward them. 

To understand poverty, from the inside, is to see how profoundly the system fails millions of Americans; not only failing them, but fighting them. And if one is on the wrong side of the system, all the spunk in the world won't work. All the drive that human beings possess naturally to make something of life will fail, and in the end, the system we presently have condemns millions to poverty. 

Some blame the poor, wash their hands of it, and walk away with a peaceful soul, thanking God for their blessings and quietly patting themselves on the back for their "success." 

Others look at the system and see how irrational and hateful it is. How evil it is, and work to transform it - transform the system, yes; but transform the soul of the nation, and the soul of those who wash their hands and congratulate themselves for what they have. 

To be devoted to this transformative work brings great satisfaction, but also the disapproval of many. 

How people look at poverty is the great divide in human history.

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