Posts Tagged ‘Poverty’

The Center of Hope

Posted in Essays on April 3rd, 2014 by Noebie – 2 Comments

Awhile back I became familiar with the Catholic Worker movement. A part of their philosophy involves voluntary poverty, and sharing everything in our lives with people in need. The credo is “if you have a coat on your back, and a coat in your closet, one of them belongs to someone else.”

This is a hard teaching for me.

I grew up in a family of modest means. My father died when I was six years old, so I was raised by a single mom who worked part time. Yet we always had adequate housing, decent clothes to wear and I cannot remember ever going to bed hungry. I now suspect that my mother sometimes did without things that she would have liked in order to provide for me, but I never heard her complain about it, and I don’t recall her ever being in any sort of true physical deprivation. I was afforded every opportunity in terms of education, despite our limited resources, and I was not saddled with the crushing student debt which is so common today.

I have lived “from hand to mouth” at many points in my life as an adult, but I have not yet ever experienced the desperation of poverty that afflicts tens of millions in the United States. At the age of 56, I am not wealthy, but I finally enjoy what might be called a “solid middle class” standard of living.

In short, for most of my life I have thought of myself as one who was struggling to get by, not as one living in relative abundance. Like many who share my status, I felt that I was “doing the best I can” to help others by making regular donations to various charities.

At long last it has occurred to me that it’s not truly “the best I can do.”

Yet, it is difficult for me to imagine myself doing as Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin did in establishing Catholic Worker – forsaking even a modest level of comfort to live and serve among the most destitute in our community. There are, of course, many “practical” considerations involved. What about my wife and daughter, who have not been stricken with such a revolutionary conviction? It would be one thing for me to deprive myself, but I’m not sure that it would be just or proper to require such a thing of them.

Perhaps this is all just rationalization. Suffice it to say that I have struggled and pondered these sorts of questions for many months now. There was a particular moment where the weight of guilt came crashing down on me while hearing this story from the Gospel According to Matthew.

Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.

During Advent of 2013, at Reconciliation, I broke down in tears while describing this struggle of conscience to the priest. I left the rite with a determination to do more than simply write checks to charities as a way to meet my Christian obligation to others. I decided to find ways to participate directly in meeting human needs. It may not be all that is required, but it is a start.

I met with Sr. Denise, the Pastoral Associate at our church, who prayed with me and gave me information on several organizations in our community working to reduce the suffering of those in poverty. This morning, I worked for the first time at the Center of Hope, a local food pantry. It was ninety minutes of honest work, pushing a broom, mopping floors, helping to unload a truck from the food bank and breaking down boxes for recycling. I met some very fine people. Some of them have been volunteering at the Center for a decade or more. I hope that one day I will be able to look back on as many years of dedicated service.

This post is not written in a spirit of self-congratulation. To the contrary, I feel deep shame at having squandered so much of my life, turning a deaf ear toward the pleadings of the Gospel and a blind eye toward the needs of others. I am also still terribly troubled about the question of my second (and third, and fourth) coat, and all of the other comforts that I enjoy and do not yet share.

Dorothy Day said “I firmly believe that our salvation depends on the poor.”

This morning, for the first time, that statement gives me hope.

The Bi-Partisan War Against the Poor

Posted in Curated Links on January 15th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

DSA Vice Chairman Joseph Schwartz reviews the recent MSNBC special commemorating the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, noting that discussion of the thirty year bi-partian assault on working people received little attention.

The biggest change in the face of poverty in the U.S. from the initiation of the War on Poverty to today is that poverty is now a problem of working families; it was not in 1962.  Today, one half of families living in official poverty have a full-time worker in the household. In 1962, a fully employed worker guaranteed that the family would live above the poverty line.  Why this change? In part, this is due to the conscious corporate assault on union strength.

Read more: The Bi-Partisan Neoliberal War Against the Poor – Democratic Socialists of America.

Trish Kahle on the Elk River Spill

Posted in Curated Links on January 13th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

“IMAGINE YOURSELF in the rugged countryside of the Appalachian Mountains, where you and your neighbors have lived with a history of poverty and lack of economic development–and you learn that the water piped into your home has been poisoned and can’t be used, even after it is boiled, until further notice.”

Read the article: They poisoned the river for a “clean coal” lie | I Can’t Believe We Still Have to Protest This Shit.

Pure Savagery

Posted in Video on January 10th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

 

Professor Chomsky speaks on American politics’ descent into madness.

Another Insightful Piece from Ben Irwin

Posted in Curated Links on January 7th, 2014 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

“I’ve seen the other kind of poverty — the kind that’s at least partly self-inflicted and more than a little self-destructive.”

Read the full essay: The other kind of poverty « Ben Irwin.

20 Things The Poor Really Do Every Day « Ben Irwin

Posted in Curated Links on December 6th, 2013 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

I’ve never had any use for the likes of Dave Ramsey and his little cult of prosperity. It was nice to see somebody stand up to his recent un-Christian stereotyping of poor people, although it is always saddening to be reminded of the daily struggles of our brothers and sisters.

Ben Irwin sets the record straight.

The Culture of Prosperity Deadens Us

Posted in Quotes on November 30th, 2013 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

“To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

Poverty Got You Down? Call in the Guard.

Posted in Commentary, Curated Links on July 12th, 2013 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Gun violence in Chicago has gotten so bad this summer that members of Congress (including Bobby Rush) are convening a “summit on urban violence,” and Illinois State Representative Monique Davis is demanding that Governor Quinn send in the National Guard “to protect our children so they can go to the park and swim and play and have a childhood.”

For his part, Mayor Rahm Emaunuel wants to continue to focus on “the four P’s – policing, parenting, prevention and penalties” as solutions to the problem. Considering the probable effects of His Honor’s war on children and teachers, they’re likely to need a lot more of the policing and penalties part of that equation in the near future.

I would humbly suggest that someone ought to begin focusing on the most important “P-Factor” relating to violence in our cities: POVERTY.

Keeanga Yamahtta Taylor, Cedric Johnson, Martha Biondi and Barbara Ransby take a look at the true roots of urban violence in their panel discussion presented at the Socialism 2013 Conference: Poverty Pulls the Trigger.

Click here for the MP3 Download from We Are Many.

Poverty can be a prison in itself

Is This Just?

Posted in Commentary on June 14th, 2013 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Those of us who are comfortable – and by that, I mean we who live in a decent home, have enough to eat, have access to medical care when we need it, who can offer a good education to our children, who are kept relatively safe and have a sense of stability and continuity in our lives – are able to enjoy our comforts only because of a system that subjects millions of other people in our country and around the globe to violence, illness, poverty, hunger, insecurity and despair each and every day.

To acknowledge this is the beginning.

Politics, Poverty, Full Employment and the Living Wage

Posted in Curated Links on May 16th, 2012 by Noebie – Be the first to comment

Poverty is Over—If We Want it. [Adam Lassila | The Occupied Wall Street Journal] - It’s unconscionable that more than 30 million full-time workers don’t earn enough to provide for their families. It’s also unacceptable that 22 million willing laborers don’t have access to full-time work. Every human being deserves a job that can provide for his or her family’s well-being. Full employment is possible, but the U.S. government has rejected it as a policy goal because it is not in the best interest of the elites who control Washington.

Read more.