Thursday, March 06, 2008

Christine on the Issues: Poverty

Americans only make up 4.5% of the world's population, yet we consume over 40% of our planet's resources. We are some of the richest people on the face of the earth, but our government only budgets less that four-tenths of 1% to aid world poverty. Out of the 22 industrialized nations that give assistance to the world's poor, where do you think we rate?

Next to last.

Did you know that if you are a parent working a full-time minimum wage job, receiving the Earned Income Tax Credit and food stamps, you will still be living below the federal poverty line?

We need to raise the minimum wage.

Now, raising minimum wage will "hurt" business owners. True. Business owners will take a hit. See, they've been paying the exact same amount (in most states) since 1997. What that means is that they will have to alter their lifestyle or way of living ... so that others can afford to live ... so that others can afford to feed their children ... so that others can stay healthy and live longer.

Who are we kidding? Not everyone will choose to take that hit. Mostly what will happen is that you will pay more for stuff.

You will pay more for stuff so that others can afford to live ... so that others can afford to feed their children ... so that others can stay healthy and live longer.

We need everyone to have paid sick days. If you do not have paid sick days, and have to see a doctor, you then have a day where you have to spend money, but are losing pay. Things just snowball from there. If you have to go to the hospital for any length of time, you may never pull yourself out of that hole.

There are abandoned buildings scattered across our nation that can be utilized by the homeless. There are organizations already doing this. It's compassionate, and I think it's important. While our society in general will always have people who look down upon and judge those in poverty, I know that is not my place. My place is to not just show love and compassion, but to treat everyone as an equal ... because I believe they are. I haven't always put action to my words. I'm getting better.

In Matthew, Jesus talks about how the poor will always be among us. There are those who will find a way out of it - to be able to sustain themselves. However, we will always be surrounded by those who cannot ... who will not.

Yet, there are those who say that because it is the church's job to sustain them, we should not give the government that control ... or responsibility. I don't agree with that.

Heck, I don't get that.

There are followers of Christ that don't have a passion for the poor. There are atheists that have sacrificed everything for the poor. Sustaining those in need is good and its moral, regardless of your spiritual beliefs.

Yes, I believe atheists have morals apart from a higher power.

I have a choice with my vote, and I vote to help those who need it most. I vote to be inconvenienced in my lifestyle that surpasses the vast majority of the world's population. I will vote for an "American Dream" that has nothing to do with individual promotion, but more to do with equality.

I'm also not very popular at parties.

"I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ."

Mahatma Gandhi

"... people living in poverty are less likely to vote, lack the means to write campaign contributions, and don't enjoy the benefits of the social networks needed to exert the same influence as the rest of society. Thus by its very nature our political system is antithetical and hostile to the interests of those with the weakest voice. This will remain the case until the church accepts its prophetic vocation to speak truth to power. The church stands at the intersection of power and powerlessness."

Adam Taylor

(stats can be found at Tony Campolo's "Red Letter Christians")


Anonymous said...

"They are beautiful people who are facing insurmountable mountains ... mental illness, addiction, disabilities. Believers, we are to sustain them. We are not called to sustain them "if they ...". We are called to sustain them ... even when there is no end in sight ... even when our giving and sharing is exploited."

Would love to see you expound upon this in a future blog...the "hows" of going about this...what we as believers can do specifically to sustain these marginalized ones. Terrific blog!!

Unknown said...


It's not about writing a check or donating clothes.

It starts with knowing people - not knowing "about them" or "where they are," but knowing them ... knowing people in need. Spending time with them. Building relationships with them.

When you know a person, you know their needs, but you also touch them, and love them and embrace them and respect them. Food and clothing are important. Relationship is vital.

For me, that meant changing how and where my family spends its time. Then, the practice of sharing starts to unfold differently for everyone.

CC said...

AMEN!!!!!!!! I work with the poor. Every single day. What a difference that has made in ALL my beliefs and politics. I am no longer isolated in my home and affluent community as I was growing up (although even at that time I held many of these same beliefs).

At last I have finally found a church that firmly believes these things as well. Finally.

My voting tendencies are not very popular amongst the "Christian community" but I truly am trying to "vote like Jesus would" if you will ;)

Unknown said...

Sing it Sister!

Terroni said...

hell yeah
hoo raa
rock on
work it, girl
sing it, sister

so glad to know this awesome woman who is christine

Susan said...

Great post Christine. I came over here to thank you for your advice on my blog post about my picky eateres. What you wrote was very helpful. Thanks!
I enjoyed reading through your blog for a while tonight!

LilySea said...

You'd be the life of my parties, I do imagine.

Recovering Noah said...

Love, love, love the Gandhi quote. That just says it all, doesn't it?


Aaron Ivey said...

This post is fabulous. You could come to our parties and would fit in great!