Blog Action Day: What Can I Do? | Project Diaspora

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Blog Action Day: What Can I Do?

We have all been in one ofthose conversations. You know the one… where a simple anecdote about someone’s difficult morning suddenly turns ugly and you find yourself in the world of “us” and “them”.

THEM being all those people who don’t have the wherewithal to get their shit together, pull themselves up by their bootstraps and take care of business. You know… THEM. Here is the thing… the them they are talking about… they exist. So trying to have this conversation is pointless. The offensive conversation you are having is in part based on truth. It is counter-productive to try to dissuade anyone who holds this position. There is too much evidence that there are in fact people who are where they are because of their own choices not just in the past but even in the present. There is a case to be made that poor is a state of mind. Define poverty a certain way and this is 100% true. POOR is such an inadequate word. It has no nuance and sadly there is no other word to cover the diverse crowd that attend the poverty party.

Who is poor?

  • The schizophrenic under the bridge
  • The alcoholic with the paper bag on the curb
  • The runaway teen
  • The illegal immigrant picking oranges in southern California
  • The teen mother, high school drop out who is pregnant again
  • The 75 year old whose pension has run out
  • The cancer patient with no insurance
  • The campesino in the mountains for Honduras hoping to have enough food to feed his family today
  • A Sudanese woman living in an IDP camp
  • The child in Sierra Leone picking through trash for food
  • The reaction that each of these people encounter range from anger, scorn, pity, guilt, righteous indignation and more. Can these people be lifted out of poverty? Not as long as they remain… “THEM”

    Can poverty be cured, eliminated, banished like polio as a relic of the past? The Bible tells us no…

    The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
    Matthew 26:11

    The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
    Mark 14:7

    So, maybe there is no point in even trying right? This attitude of helplessness is natural, but wrong. The Bible is full of examples of Jesus reaching out to help the disenfranchised. Just like him, if we focus on the person and not their circumstances we can help. In every instance above, there is a reason why that person is living on less than they need to thrive. The reasons are complex and varied, but not insurmountable. Look at the “poor” as a big mass of out-stretched needy hands and open mouths waiting passively to be filled and your heart and your mind can shut them out and turn away. Look around you and see people struggling to make their way in the world the best way they know how and suddenly the opportunities to make a difference in a life open up in front of you and out into the far horizon as far as the eye can see.

    What will I do to help eliminate poverty? Open my eyes and stretch out my hand to those in my circle. The men and women in the local homeless-to-home program. I meet with them every Sunday and offer a friendly ear, God, and a hot meal. The women of Kerika: far off in Uganda, willing to work hard but not having the right skills to earn a living wage. $23,000 is more than I can share on my own… but a handful of blessed individuals could change their lives forever. I only hope I can introduce them to each other. Will it change the world? Probably not… just the tiny piece of it that I can see. I will consider myself lucky if even one of these people’s life is improved by something that I did. We cannot shoulder everyone’s burden, but there is no reason why we can’t grab a corner and lighten the load for part of the journey.

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