Tag Archives: poverty
Photo credit: 401(k) 2012/flickr. Use does not represent endorsement by the photographer.
“I want everybody in America to be rich,” was the answer given by Mitt Romney during the GOP Presidential debates in 2011. This is the same line that Presidential candidate John McCain dropped on us in 2008. If you are unable to locate the geyser of cash, then you must not be using the Work Harder Treasure Map, or so we were told by Paul Ryan during his speech at last week’s GOP convention. These men are smart enough to know that wealth is not an ever-flowing fountain from which everyone can drink to their heart’s content, because in the most simplistic terms, currency, resources, and goods are finite. But this beloved tale isn’t concerned with the facts, and it’s not limited to the GOP.
America’s me-centric worldview is growing exponentially thanks to a blend of post-9/11 anxiety, economic uncertainty, the doldrums of postmodernity, and unbridled capitalism. As this continues, the mainstream mindset is starting to resemble those green alien squeeze toys in ‘Toy Story,’ caught staring upwards with a punch-drunk gaze, waiting for the arcade machine’s claw to pluck us out of the group, so that we might leave behind the mundane others as we’re whisked off to our own personal paradise. Our politics and religion become customized vehicles for legitimizing a preoccupation of the self, all at a great cost to ourselves and the community around us.
I am not an expert on homelessness by any stretch of the imagination. I first lowered one hesitant toe into these waters a few years back while working to serve the poor and homeless at a once-a-week community dinner at a nearby church. My friend joined me after a few times and we both developed a modest sense of satisfaction by directly serving those in a season of struggle. But it wasn’t too long before my patience began to wear out, and I became frustrated by the familiar faces because I thought these people weren’t making progress as fast as they should. I wondered if I was just enabling a bunch of freeloaders and addicts. My friend and I convinced each other that we were doing exactly that, and so we broke free of what started to feel like an obligation.