Wednesday, January 7, 2009

I hate poverty

Originally posted to Xanga on April 29, 2008

I love ice cream. I love free stuff. Put it together and today was heaven for me - Ben & Jerry's Free Cone Day. 30th anniversary, yo. We stood in line for half an hour, but it was worth it. Free Cone Day was in association with some teen organization that didn't do much of anything, but there was also advertising for 'One.' An organization to fight poverty. And fittingly, I had been thinking about poverty today.

We went to get gas for our car today and the prices were insane. And so my mom gave us a talk that basically said: recession's basically here, prices go up, income stays the same, which means our lifestyle must adjust. Neither my mom nor my dad were part of privileged families growing up. I mean, the 70's were obviously hard for everyone. Our family now, though, has been ridiculously blessed. But with the recession, a comfortable lifestyle is going to change for a lot of families . . . so what is that going to mean for the people who were barely getting by before?

Jesus said that the poor will always be among us. Poverty has been no stranger to history. The UN defines poverty as living on or less than about a dollar a day, and estimates that nearly half of the global population (3 billion people) fits this criterion. The US is about 5% of the global population. The US holds about 24% of the globe's wealth. About 1 in 5 children in the US live in poverty. It has been said that 760,000 people are homeless on any given night in the United States.

But thinking about this is gut-wrenching. I hate it, I really hate it. I hate thinking about it. There are few things that drive my heart to such violent emotion as when I think of poverty. That's partly why I chose The Glass Castle as my dramatic interp because when I read it I was affected, even if I did a lousy job of interping it. (Read it, by the way.) My parents tell me stories of when they were kids, and it makes me sick. When I visited DC, Lee, Baddeck, and drove through various places, I cried inside for these homeless people and these struggling to make ends meet. I wrote about how horrible it all was, but put it aside because I didn't want to reread what I had written.

But as much as it pains me to think about poverty or to see it in front of me, I can't just force it out of my mind. How selfish, to simply cope with being uncomfortable with reality. How selfish, to not suffer inside with those who physically suffer. How selfish, to pretend that things are something they're not. But I'm just a person, just an apathetic teenaged girl, with no real knowledge of poverty, with no real experience with poverty, and with just a general queasy conviction that maybe I should do something about it. I have zero qualifications to share my heart on poverty because there is so little I really know.

I volunteer once in a while at local missions. I love I pray often for people I know personally who have financial troubles. And yet it seems like I could do bigger things, and yet I'm not. But I'm going to San Francisco this June with Ignite (my youth group) through Youth With A Mission (YWAM.) I really have no idea what I've signed up for. But I'm hoping I'll be given an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus? And maybe God will use what I see there to turn me into something He can use to actually serve, rather than just pity, the poor.

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