Blog Action Day - Poverty
Why do I have to do a blog about poverty? It's 2008, almost 2009. When I was in Ethical Culture Sunday School back in Brooklyn, we were learning about poverty and the War on Poverty. It must have been 1966 or 1967. I never quite got why it was called a War on Poverty. And sometimes I wondered if it was more a war on people who were poor.
Maybe back then I probably wondered if it was a war on "the poor," but I've since learned that being poor is a condition - not a trait - same thing as being homeless. Once that was pointed out to me - well maybe it really took a few times of it being pointed out - but now that I've got it - it annoys me when people are referred to as "the poor" or "the homeless" or even "the rich." It makes it easier to think that it is a permanent condition - one that can't be changed, so why bother changing anything?
But it isn't that way. Some people who are homeless, without a place to live might be so by choice, sometimes a choice hampered by mental illness. Some people who are homeless are without a place to live be because of a bad series of events happening to them.
But mostly what I think about poverty, people being poor, is how on earth can there be so many people who are poor, whose very basic needs for living are not met - so many more than there were 40 years ago at a time when the "war on poverty" at least had the public mission of eradicating poverty? And how can we be a nation in the United States - for I can't speak about other countries - that can allow so many people not to have their basic needs met? How can it be that the money is found to give to big corporations who have made serious financial errors, but it can't be found to feed and house and educate every single person in this country? How can greed be such a determining factor in what happens, rather than compassion and caring for our fellow human beings? Family values? Not just your family, but everyone's family. The human family.
How come it is OK to spend money on a real war and not try to have another "War on Poverty" no matter how poorly named? How about not letting some people earn have incomes - they're not really earning it - so vastly beyond their needs while other people's needs aren't met? Where are our heads, thinking that this is wrong, where are our hearts, feeling compassion for others, where are our hands, working to change things? Please let me know when you've figured out the answers - I'd like to know.