Friday, March 18, 2005

Poverty Knows No Color

Poverty knows no color that much is unarguably true. Being poor has nothing to with the color of your skin, it can happen to anyone. As Thomas Merton wrote, “It is easy enough to tell the poor to accept their poverty as God’s will when you yourself have warm clothes and plenty of food and medical care and a roof over your head and no worry about the rent. But if you want them to believe you—try to share some of their poverty and see if you can accept it as God’s will yourself!” It is so easy to overlook the overwhelming poverty of others in your own home on television; it is another thing altogether to witness this abject poverty and to still do nothing. Elected officials have visited the poor ever since there has been there have been organized elections in this country. And each has promised to help stop the suffering; you can easily see that throwing money at the problem hasn’t made a dent yet. The answer is not in money or food being distributed but a plan of the working poor. What the government doesn’t seem to understand that in the present taxation system we have it is next to impossible for the poor to travel to their job, maintain the manner of dress that is necessary, find a suitable person to look after their children and earn the wage that is usually open to the not as well educated poor of this country.
Lord Action writing to Mandell Creighton April 5, 1887, wrote, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority: still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority.” That is not to say that those that are in power tend to forget what they were placed in that position of, it is to justly state that those that positioned them into power have other wants and desires than the common voters. When a politician makes a promise to a crowd of lower income voters and then walks away, the poorer of the crowd want to believe he will keep his word but know better. The middle-class voters think there is a chance he will keep his word and decide to vote or not. The upper class voter has known all along what will be the outcome for it has almost always been decided beforehand.
The poor in any system of government in the western tradition takes the poor for granted and decides they are to remain in their place, and when they do not it is decided that they are in the eyes of the law of that land in contempt. In 1968, on June 15, Calvin Trillin in the New Yorker wrote, “The poor in Resurrection City have come to Washington to show that the poor in America are sick, dirty, disorganized, and powerless—and they are criticized daily for being sick, dirty, disorganized, and powerless.” For a government to take the poor seriously and to tend to their problems would be for that government to lead an overwhelming majority that would belittle any requests of the middle-class or those that are wealthy. Democracy is its won worst enemy. To strangle out the good to allow the bad to prosper then the poorest of the poor are missed by the ricochet of chance help that their wounds are not seen and end up a victim of a lobbyist and worse the politician that allows him to exist.

Chris Mansel

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