Archive for the ‘Blog Action Day’ Tag

Roots of poverty

I would like to write about the disgraces of poverty as it exists in hard core reality and thereby help jump start action to aid the indigent.  I have experienced dire lack of funds myself.  I have worked with children who have no toys at home, who come to school in the morning hungry and depressed.  I have seen the inner city poverty we tolerate around this country.  But poverty, at least the economic kind, really is a relative stranger to most Americans.  We may be poor, some may even be hungry, but there are enough open doors here to ensure that all of us can avoid poverty if we so desire.  Notable success and riches may not be so available, but basic decent living is.

So what weighs on my mind this Blog Action Day is the cause of poverty more than its manifestation.  We Americans are comfortably shielded from its worst effects, but we participate daily in its causes. 

Poverty, different from being poor, is absence of opportunity, hope, or ambition.  The destitute are those who have no options, whose lives are wasted in the endless hunt for something to eat, for shelter and clothing.  Poverty is where humanity sinks back down into the animal kingdom.

And poverty is the state of mind that accepts “the poor ye have always with you,” that considers the destitute part of natural life, that glories in its own power and patronizes those less fortunate with token gifts.  Poverty is the world view that pits one human against another, that attributes to luck or savvy the success of the ‘haves’ and feels only superficial responsibility for the rotten estate of the ‘have-nots.’  Poverty is winner-and-loser thinking, an us-and-them attitude.

This poverty of the spirit is the true enemy.  We are slowly waking up to the bodhisattva perception that none of us is saved unless and until we are all saved.  Kiva and the other organizations with new ideas about sharing our resources with those less fortunate are operating according to this understanding.  They are helping third world countries progress, but far more importantly, they are nurturing human evolution into a species that values the spirit, that is universally rich in compassion, that respects the poor but refuses to tolerate poverty.


The media is making much of the several cases of suicide or murder-suicide that have popped up around the US in the wake of the mortgage bust.  Though hardly in alarming numbers, there are instances of Americans so devastated by the loss of their homes or jobs that death has seemed the only alternative.

The reaction is certainly over the top when we consider the abysmal poverty endured all their lives by so many fellow humans.  So many millions who will never have their own home, who never even have enough to eat. 

There was one time in my life when I had to pinch pennies in order to afford another meal.  I swore never to go there again.  There were opportunities enough, so that I could keep to my vow ever since.  For so many of my brothers and sisters on this earth plane, such opportunities are nowhere to be found.  They experience the humiliation, ultimate emptiness and desperation of hunger every day.

It’s hard to understand why we don’t eliminate hunger when the world’s resources are still sufficient to feed us all.  Any explanations are impossibly complex.  But there are mechanisms for caring and sharing, organizations we can support who work tirelessly at destroying the hunger monster. 

It’s my suspicion that hunger exists because of unenlightened leadership.  If the leaders are helpless, it falls to individuals to follow their hearts.

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.