Blog Action preliminary thoughts

We are all born rich, they say, and become progressively poor as we grow.  Very, very few of us die with any of our native riches intact.  We’re born free, elastic, expressive, and loving; and almost all of us depart this plane shackled, inflexible, repressed, and full of resent and disappointment.

On Wednesday, the world will observe Blog Action Day, with thousands of bloggers addressing the theme of poverty.  The poverty that I mention above, that seems to characterize the human condition no matter how financially rich, is not, of course, the intended focus.  We will be concerned with poverty resulting from political aggression and ignorance, the poverty that still exists worldwide even though there are resources to end it.  But perhaps it’s helpful, when discussing the needs of others, to remember our universal need.  Working to feed the hungry will be kept in best perspective when the worker knows such labor is about enriching his own soul and has little to do with charity.

If you’ve ever been camping, you know how not only possible but enjoyable life can be without all its accustomed accoutrements.  You appreciate how it is to get by with the barest essentials; maybe you even appreciate the freedom from all the ‘stuff.’  There’s an element of clean joy in scarcity, and certainly a large dose of creativity, as you use what is readily available to fashion solutions for any needs that arise.

Poverty can heal, can show us where our true treasure lies, can return us to the naked freedom with which we were born.  But the poverty in question this week is of a different ilk; we will be discussing not so much poverty as repression and greed.  We’ll look at how much of humanity still understands power as ascendancy rather than as cooperative effectiveness.  We’ll consider the ravages of those who would undermine life for financial gain.

The world’s current panic over economic uncertainties throws this week’s focus on poverty into a eerie light.  Our anxieties concerning savings, loans, and the retirement account are real and serious.  Yet millions of the poverty-stricken worldwide have nothing to do with this middle-class angst.  Banks and bailouts bear no relation to their existence.  No matter what the big toy-makers invent or destroy as structures for propping up our pride, the chronically poor remain untouched.  Perhaps it is this disconnect that we should be examining.  Perhaps it is not our systems or economy that keeps some of humanity in the gutter, but our own disgraceful penchant for “us and them” thinking; our arrogant assumption that others are simply not as clever, smart, lucky as we; our shameful need for someone, anyone, who is even worse off than we are.

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