Why The Poor Matter

Unemployed In Line At Soup Kitchen During The Great Depression

Like anything in life, our possessions are finite. They slowly erode, maybe even instantly disappear. We can take every precaution to thwart loss, but trying to prevent it is futile. We can lose our jobs this very day. Our small business can slide into bankruptcy in few months. Our savings can dwindle until there’s nothing left, nothing, not even a shred of our dignity. Anything can happen to us. We can just as easily become homeless, hungry, and belittled as the ones now fighting for their survival on the streets. If we believe that we are immune to financial mayhem and would never end up scavenging for food, then we’re deluded. It could be us waiting in line for food, wondering if there were people who didn’t assume we were lazy parasites or drug addicts. It could be us sleeping inside of a makeshift shelter under a bridge not knowing when the next meal would be. The self-righteous will blame us if we’re struggling to make rent or feed and clothe the ones we love, but no one has the right to treat us as subhuman.

Unfortunately, if we are poor and needing of assistance, some will practically dump their refuse on us. We would be weak to them. We wouldn’t matter to them, because our bank accounts would not have enough digits. As a matter of fact, the poor coax out feelings of uneasiness in them and instead of helping, people just want them out of sight, away from not only their direct line of vision, but their periphery as well. Only in an inhumane community, the poor and the homeless are herded like cattle, prodded to get going. Such a community finds acceptable that police officers harass them. Such a community finds acceptable that they’re stereotyped as addicts, thieves, and violent criminals. Do we really want to stay in our cozy, sterile lives or do we actually want to help prevent the abuse that the poor is forced to endure? Living in substandard housing or no housing at all, living in a violent ghetto, living so close to death is tragic and not a justifiable reason to blame or ridicule.

Jesus Christ knew the poor were not villains. He knew that we all are unique and irreplaceable people who were never inferior to the rich. However, even though we deserve protection from any abuse of power, let’s not slip into passivity. If we have lost everything, we must still fight for survival. Fatalism is not our path as warriors. While we’re persistently battling though unemployment, or living paycheck to paycheck, or buried in debt, things might turn in our favor. It will be a gift gratefully received, but we must know that our only choice is to keep fighting no matter how dire our situation may be and eventually, we just might find the financial security and peace of mind we crave. Maybe today we’ll realize that we already were infinitely wealthy. We have the ability not only to share it with the ones we deeply care about but expand upon it and spread it around just for the joy of it. Wealth, whether we have it or not, can be created. It is, after all, just a tool to enhance the joy of spending time with each other.

Giving unto others, sharing, giving each other a chance brings us closer and closer to joy. As imperfect as we all are, humility can be the greatest gift we give to ourselves. Each one of us deserves to be treated with common decency, and it’s time to give respect where it is due. Material wealth cannot sustain us on its own. There’s no heart in possessions. There’s no soul in possessing. While it can be a joy to have money, it can never replace the beauty of togetherness, the great collective experience on planet Earth. Some dread that life can take everything from them too and may distance themselves from the poor. It’s understandable but warriors, like us, seek to understand and work toward brainstorming solutions. It may be easier to vilify the poor, but we must be honest and admit that many of us aren’t sure on how to even approach the problem much less resolve it. The poor deserve a fair chance to succeed in this Capitalist society. This prejudice, this stigma of being poor blinds people to the potential that lies within them. Any obstacles like this, of course, beg to be overcome.