Sunday, January 26, 2014

Income inequality=poverty?

Charity, Longstanton
Taken by Steve Day
Is it me or does it seem that poverty is so uncool that the kids are talkin' income inequality these days. From what I've heard the two are not the same, it includes the poor, but you get to talk about the middle class too. It sounds like the old we must put down the rich* to help the poor mess, just wrapped up in new clamshell packaging.
A few months ago I heard something inspiring. A missionary was in some random African village and wanted to help women whose children were starving. He was thinking of all sorts of programs he could start, but then he noticed not every woman in the village had starving children. So he went to a woman whose children were well fed to see what she was doing and to see if he could get the women with the starving children to emulate her. For him the point of the story was that he, white western guy did NOT have all the answers and to make a comment about Americans and European aid efforts. To me, it was see what is working in an area with real people, and use that as a model.
What does this have to do with income equality? Not much, but as you might notice it does have something to do with poverty.
Bono, the rock star worldwide-poverty activist admitted that aid was just a stop-gap. The income inequality being bantered about sounds like more stop gaps as the solution. And then the problem is there is no solution, no end. We shall always have poverty with us, but we can try to change the image of it, so that there are fewer starving people, and more of G-d's justice.
Despite many decades of people saying the middle class is doomed, and income inequality is an excuse to steal some poverty limelight for the middling classes, I think the middle class is doing okay. We have photos in our dining area of our family. My grandmother with her kin, when she was younger, my grandparents, his great and grand-parent-family (it is a group picture), and my aunts and uncles. They are a lovely reminder that we come from peasant stock. In the early and middle 20th Century we were lumberjacks living in log cabins and North Carolina sharecroppers. In the early 21st century, we work in climate controlled offices where we ignore texts on our cell phones. So I think we've done alright. Not everyone made it to middle-class-dom, but I have some hope for the next generation of those who didn't. For the next generation, we hope to be the example of how you do it, how you get out of poverty, like the woman in the village, and none of it involves the rich suffering.

*Does not include all wealthy. Just the one's who are in the spotlight.

No comments: