Poverty: Speak Differently, Think Differently, Act Differently

Excellent article from BillMoyers.com  because speaking and thinking about poverty differently will allow us to create different, more effective solutions for change.

Two main points that are the focus of the article:
1. “we need to stop talking about the economy in ways that make it seem like the weather. The economy is a result of the rules we create and the choices we make. The people who are struggling to make ends meet do so because we have built — through intentional choice — an economy that produces inadequate incomes for more than one-third of all Americans. So we need to have a real debate about what to do to build an economy that doesn’t produce such misery.”
2. Instead of saying “poverty” or “the poor” – which is abstract and no one identifies themselves this way – use terms from real experience “such as not being paid enough to cover the bills, making difficult trade offs between basic necessities, inadequate or irregular work hours or not being able to save for retirement or college. Then you have to quickly connect it to shared values. In our research, the most powerful value was family — not only do people identify family as a primary identity but it is the fear or reality of not being able to provide enough for family members that motivates people to get into the debate or take action. (emphasis mine)
To read the full article click:

Welcome to Switzerland!

Part of what makes life fabulous is the opportunity to visit new people in new places. While I’ve been to Switzerland briefly in the past, I’ve never had the opportunity to stop and stay for awhile. This time I did. Staying for a longer time provides the opportunity to view life through the eyes of those living in Winterthur, just outside of Zurich.

Via my smart phone camera – you can join us!

Walk by the market area or town center

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Public transportation is easy and on time. For example, our friends met us at the airport and traveled with us on the local commuter train for the 10 minute trip into Winterthur.

Local streets cater to pedestrians and cyclists since not as many people drive cars. Pollution is low because traffic is light. Winterthur is quite walkable.

Look at these vintage shutters and ironwork – amazing, isn’t it?

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R. Meshar

R. Meshar

The water is crystal clear everywhere. Our host often fills her water bottle during the day at town fountains and assures us that it is pristine. It certainly looked clear – all the way to the bottom!

Next we’ve planned an excursion to a nearby a castle, complete with moat . . .

“What American Dream?”

Appropriate reminder for the Fourth of July –

From “What American Dream?: One in Four People Now Live in High Poverty Neighborhoods” on recent Census Bureau data:

The Bureau found that in the decade between 1990 and 2000, the percentage of people living in these concentrated low-income communities dropped from 20.0 percent to 18.1 percent. However, in comparison, from 2000 to 2010, that percentage grew from a whopping 18.1 percent to 25.7 percent. And, “while the overall population grew by 10 percent over the decade, the number of people living in poverty areas grew by about 56 percent.” In raw numbers, more than 77 million people lived in these poor neighborhoods in 2010.

and this:
Whether it’s the toll that having an under educated, unskilled population takes on the economy when youths aren’t able to be hired for jobs, or the inability of a family to afford nutritious food, which results in obesity and disease and boosts healthcare costs, we all feel it. No matter where we live, one way or another we’re all impacted by what happens to folks who grow up in an impoverished neighborhood. (bold added)

Roxanne here: We can no longer afford the high cost of poverty we create by diverting money from the public purse to corporate welfare.

How does your state create poverty? Here’s an example of how we create poverty “Minnesota-style.” Read this Bloomberg article on the death of shopping malls (“Goodbye, Malls of America“):

. . . Minnesota’s legislature approved $250 million in tax benefits to help pay for a doubling in size of the country’s second-biggest mall, Mall of america. The money came from a fund set up to reduce economic disparities between rich and poor areas.” (bold added)

This money was designated for helping Minnesota’s poor communities. Now it’s going to corporate welfare queens. Inequality doesn’t just “happen.” We create poverty. People don’t just happen to be poor. People are made poor – by the collective action or inaction of all of us.

You may also like What is White Privilege? and Poverty is a Luxury We CanNOT Afford.

 

New Life

carved_goose_eggshell_25112013___1_by_peregrin71-d6vlqgiThe Passover Seder meal and Easter Triduum ritual — are both celebrations of spring and the end of winter, at least in the northern hemisphere. But more than this, both holidays are also celebrations about moving away from what enslaves and diminishes us – into a new and transformed life.

We remember the stories, the history and the courage of a people who envisioned a better life, for themselves and for their communities. They trusted, they persevered and they were willing to sacrifice for empowerment and autonomy, even if it meant death. No small feat.

New life generally requires dying to the way things were. New life means experiencing a death of some kind, whether you are a slave in exodus from Egypt or a crucified criminal as Jesus was proclaimed to be. But the stories teach us that we can trust that there is more than we know. We can trust that God doesn’t want suffering for us. God will bring something wonderful out of the torment and suffering humans inflict on each other — something more beautiful than we can imagine.

We get hints of what transformation can be like. To see more transformations like this carved goose egg shown above, click here.

Happy spring to all – and a wonderful new life!

You may also like Walk Out of the Tomb, You’re Invited! and What is Your Story?

The Gift of Rejection

InnerPeace1Sometimes experiences that are most hurtful can actually be a gift. Such is the case for those who have experienced scapegoating or rejection from those they love. A friend of mine was feeling the pain of having been shut out by most of his genetic family after coming out as a gay man. His father wouldn’t speak to him, his siblings and others refused to return his calls or emails. He was no longer invited to family events. As is often the case, family members were twisting the story to say that he had separated from them, that he had rejected them – to justify their scapegoating behavior.

All of this was truly painful for him – however it was also a gift. This young man had the benefit of knowing immediately who was actually his family. He knew without doubt who in his life would love and accept him unconditionally, as he was, for who he was. He knew immediately who would support him in living an authentic life – and who would not.

Sometimes this knowledge is invisible to us. Until a life-changing event (perhaps a divorce, death, serious illness, or revelation like my friend’s above) we may not realize that some relationships we hold dear are actually not loving at all, not supportive, not accepting.

Similarly, if you witness family members shutting someone out, gossiping or treating others badly, know that given the chance they will very likely do the same to you. Stand up for someone being treated badly – don’t collude with your silence. Don’t participate in the tribal mindset.

If you are unwilling to stand up for someone being mistreated for fear of rejection yourself, then know this: your fear is an indication that you are not being unconditionally accepted – you have already been rejected.

Unlike this young man’s so called “family,” when we really love someone, we want them to live their best life. We want them to leave toxic, abusive relationships or even relationships that make them unhappy or depressed. We aren’t interested in manipulating them or those around them. We don’t begrudge them their success, happiness or joy. Rather, we are interested in deeply listening to the story of their life journey, to their struggles and hopes. Likewise we are willing to share our journey with them too.

True acceptance, deep listening and sharing are the hallmarks of those who are actually our family, regardless of arbitrary genetic linkage. If you have felt the heart-wrenching pain of being abandoned, manipulated, scapegoated or rejected by those you love – see it for the gift that it is. Focus on deepening and encouraging relationships that are supportive and caring. Be with those who love being with you and who you love to be with!

What do you do with your suffering? Use your knowledge and experience of rejection to strengthen your emotional resilience, non-judgment and compassion for others – especially those who are excluded and marginalized. This is the mark of emotional and spiritual health. This is the mark of becoming truly human.