Poverty is a Big Word

Today, 15 October 2008, is Blog Action Day. The subject this year is poverty.

There is an axiom asserting the following premiss: If you collect everyone’s wealth and redistribute it equally within three years most of the ones who were rich will be rich again, and most of those who were impoverished will be broke.

This is not to imply the rich are smarter or better or that poor people are stupid or lazy. It does imply the rich will continue to do those things making them rich, and the poor will continue not to do those things making the rich richer.

I saw this demonstrated as a child. My father was owner of a small rural store. In the summer many local agricultural workers would stop by the store to purchase something for lunch. Many with ragged shoes on their feet would purchase a soft drink and a bag of chips. Most of those wearing better shoes would spend the same amount of money on summer sausage, cheese, and crackers. The first group, usually a younger crowd, would be hungry an hour later. The others had a meal to carry them through the afternoon. One group burned through their lunch money in an hour. The others made the same amount of money last for half of the day.

It would be easy to use this description as an excuse not to help those less fortunate. It would be easy to justify not helping by blaming the poor for their plight and asserting they did this to themselves. It would be easy, but would it be right? Not knowing how to shop for lunch need not condemn you to a life of dilapidated shoes.

There are also those who need help because they are in fact unfortunate. Natural calamities, illness, and other circumstances beyond their control send many capable and talented people in need of a helping hand.

Poverty can be a big word. It is usually taken to mean having little or nothing to eat. But the same word can describe needing clothes, tools or shelter. There is a poverty that comes from being without friends around you. There is a poverty of the spirit that comes from lacking purpose or direction.

No matter what your current situation, there are those who are in worse shape. It can be a part of your life to help those around you, whether the help comes in the form of money, help getting to the doctor, or teaching someone something which gives them marketable skills. There are many ways you can make someone’s life better, and in the process make your life richer.

Charities have an important role in such activities, and I have my favorites as I’ve mentioned elsewhere. There is an organization that fights poverty with food, caring and training every day. I’d like to encourage you to consider The Salvation Army and the good they do.