Thoughts on Poverty

I too was very moved by yesterday’s post. I came from a solidly middle class family. We were always ok, but I can remember that there was no extra money.


The rich live so differently than we do. I went to Jr. High School with a brother and a sister who had streets named for them. Their grandfather gave the land to the suburb. It was kind of difficult to talk to them because our experiences were so very different. I walked a mile to school each way along Lake Erie. I walked carrying my books and my Viola so I could practice each evening. Lake Erie in winter could be mighty brutal.


In case anyone is interested, I am not really sure how the super rich live. But having nannies, cooks, and a chauffeur was not my experience. I really didn’t care what they had, I didn’t want to have to hear about it and I generally did not.


Now, let’s go to the extremes of being very rich and being very poor. If it is difficult for the rich and the middle class to find subjects in common to discuss, the gulf between the super rich and the very poor is huge. Take a trust fund kid who gets frustrated because he is short a couple of hundred at times and compare to a really poor kid. This is a child who gets up hungry in the morning and there is nothing to eat.It has gotten cold outside and she/he doesn’t have a coat yet. So off to school they go hungry and cold and somewhat dirty. Holes in their sneakers. Sneakers that have been handed down three times.


They walk to school and are relieved to get there because it is warm inside. They receive a government subsidised breakfast. Not a hot breakfast, but it will help their minds a bit to learn. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day and needed for a child to live up to their potential.


They get lunch at school, again subsidised. Kind of like the blandest of hospital food but they are grateful because it could be so much worse. They are not really keeping up in their classes, they day dream like all children, but they dream of food, warmth and a warm place to live. They don’t dream of bikes, playing football, going to a baseball game. They don’t wear a designer cashmere sweater, they shamefully wear whatever can be found.


Instead of being bullied at boarding school, they are bullied because they always have the answer, or never have it. They get laughed at because they are dirty and their clothes are dirty.There is still the walk home and it is still cold out. When they get home they are so tired from little nutrition that all they can think about is food. Maybe there will be some tonight. But walking into the kitchen, they realize there will be no dinner and their tummies growl.


Everyone is grumpy, depressed and feel helpless. The parents watch their children and wish there was food. Something warm for their bodies to enjoy. They aren’t being neglectful. They are out of work, they are only able to find a part-time minimum wage job. Their hearts are broken that life was turning out this way.They know their children will not be able to reach their full potential. A rat scurries across the floor and hopelessness holds them into their chairs.


It is difficult to be a self-starting, motivated person when all you see is dull, colorless pain. When will it get better? Tears stream down the parents faces and they begin to quarrel. It is just so awful and it will not get better. Finally, everyone goes to bed so they can warm up a little.


I know that probably none of my readers will be living this way. But here in America, as well as in other places around the world, there is deep gut-wrenching poverty. There are no ways to really compare these divergent lifestyles. Poverty is really not real to the rich and the poor can’t even conceive of what life is like with money. The rich don’t really want to know or see the abject poverty. They don’t want anything to take away the sweetness of life. Are they bad people? Not necessarily. If you have money, and come from money you can’t conceive of being hungry or not having the trendiest jeans.


We need a bridge between both worlds. The middle class has historically been the bridge. The saying is true; the rich get richer and the poor get poorer and more people move from middle class to the poor. Let’s make 2015 a year of compassion, kindness and loving help for the poor around us. That will help bring peace to our world. And hope to the poor.