Thursday, June 5, 2008

Half in Ten

Just read an interesting commentary about poverty by John Edwards. In it, he asks a series of rather stirring questions:
  • Why do we accept that the waitress who just brought us lunch needs the church's food pantry to feed her daughter for the rest of the month? She's working and that should be enough.
  • Why do we accept that the man who just bagged our groceries is 72 years old and lost everything when his wife got sick? He's worked all of his life and retirement shouldn't mean more work.
  • Why do we accept that the men and women who wore our uniform are committing suicide in their trucks because they can't afford to see a doctor? They served us and they shouldn't even have to ask.
  • Why do we accept the family living in their car, the mentally ill and the addicts who die on our streets, and the children who go to school tired and hungry? Maybe we accept things as they are because poverty has always been with us and we think nothing will change. Or maybe we accept things as they are because it's so easy to look away.
  • And that demands that we ask another question: why has it been so easy for us to look away?
It's a lead-in to an interesting initiative: the Half in Ten campaign to reduce poverty in the U.S. in ten years. Whatever your political persuasion, this is a worthy effort. And it's POSSIBLE. As economist Jeffrey Sachs said,

Ours is the first generation in the history of the world with the ability to eradicate extreme poverty. We have the means, the resources and the know-how. All we lack is the will.

I agree that it's become too easy too look away. It's also evident, with the economy in this precarious place, how many households are one medical event, one job loss, one lost car away from financial disaster.

There's another article, a book review in the NY Times, on David K. Shipler's The Working Poor: Invisible in America, which attacks the problem from another angle. I haven't read it yet, but intend to--and would be interested in hearing from anyone who has!

So...once we're willing to see, the world can change.

What'cha looking at today?


Jan said...

This is necessary to read. Thank you for providing the info. Thank you for you.

Magdalene6127 said...

This is powerful stuff.

In the wake of Hillary's loss/ Obama's win, I'm still looking at how misogyny played into the media coverage of the primary season. Obama is a worthy man, who gets my wholehearted report... but as a nation we need to deal with the issue of sexism... of course, and homophobia, and many other things. But that's what's on my mind today!

Choralgirl said...

Thanks, Jan. :-)

Mags, I've been having that same conversation--I'm hopeful that we'll have a "nationwide conversation about race," because one NEEDS to be had, but I'd also like one about sexism. It was blatantly a factor in this election (witness the "Hillary nutcracker" gift offering), and anyone who brings it up in the media is scoffed at (the famous "blame the victim" dynamic). Sigh.