Friday, January 13, 2012

The face of poverty

Poverty discriminates against no one. It rides on the coat tails of every tragedy and hardship. When we peel away the many layers, the depth of poverty is staggering.  From those who are barely making ends meet to third world conditions, poverty has reached epidemic proportions. Its crept into every culture and corner of the planet. Money is thrown into its bottomless pit trying to fix it but there are too many hands reaching out and not enough to go around.  The stretch of poverty is as short as your neighbourhood to as far as across the world.  Hunger, homelessness, natural disasters, disease and war rear their ugly heads at a rate that has become near impossible to remedy.  And the images of the aftermath are often too much to bear.

It's a sad state we are in.

Sitting somewhere in the middle of the pack, I can't help but feel helpless. Everywhere you look poverty has made a home and looms like a dark cloud. Hard economic times, a seemingly high incidence of natural disasters, inconquerable diseases and conflicts continue to infiltrate human existence. Many people have experienced some level of poverty; even more are born and die in its grip.

Frustration continues to mount because leaders don't know how to lead, and the mentality of "every man for himself" has become the norm. It's driving people to rise up and demand change.  At the core of it all is desperation and fear.  Think I am embellishing it?  I regress; I haven't even scratched the surface.

I know that the face of poverty is multifaceted.
It's the children that go to school with empty stomachs.
It's elderly people living on fixed incomes who barely make enough to live.
It's families losing their homes because they have lost jobs.
It's our native people whose land has been exploited forcing them to live in appalling conditions.
It's people under leaderships that keep them impoverished.
It's neverending conflicts that consume everything and leave little for people to live.
It's people whose lands are barren offering no means to survive.
It's the wrath of mother nature that sweeps through lands and in its wake years of rebuilding.

The scales have tipped and if change doesn't happen ... well, the results will be devastating.

Not a pretty picture eh?  Can't really sugar coat it. I am only one, but I hold on to hope.  I invite you to reflect on these words.  I believe the change is within each of us.

 “When the demands of life seem unfair to you, when you are exhausted and have to pull yourself out of bed yet another time to do some act of service, do it gladly, without counting the cost and without self-pity, for if you persevere in serving others, in giving yourself to the poor, if you persevere to the point of completely spending yourself, perhaps someday the poor will find it in their hearts to forgive you. For it is more blessed to give than to receive and it is also a lot easier.” ~ St. Vincent de Paul

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