The Proliferation of Poverty

The Shame Game


How the Poverty-Stricken Fare


Poverty is like a disease. It spreads. It infects. It hurts. It wounds and it degrades the sufferers life. Anyone who’s never experienced poverty can’t imagine the lows, the sadness, the despair, and the hopelessness that living below poverty brings with it. Many people out there might be saying, just get a job or get a better paying job or go to school to get a degree so that you can get earn a higher wage. The poverty-stricken among us are the new denigrated invisible ones in society. You can’t see them because in the Western world they probably look just like you, wear nice clothes (they often obtained before becoming poverty-stricken), and manage to present themselves in the best light. You’d never know it to look at some people that they are often worried about where their meals will come from, worried about which bills they’ll have to forego paying, and worry about how they’ll manage to get through another month without enough. Most of the people who say that money isn’t that important have probably never truly been poor. Being on the lower end of the tax bracket is lot different than not knowing if you’ll be able to afford food. Being unable to get out to find a job because of an illness, can leave you feeling discouraged and doubting your worth as a human being. Having to rely on government subsidized, and often negligent, medical staff which are overworked, have too many patients, and simply don’t have the time and/or energy to focus on your properly in order to treat you, can also be discouraging.

According to feedingamerica.org the current poverty level is at 14.8%. It seems absurd for a nation with so much wealth, bounty, and opportunity to have any impoverished people whatsoever. But the notion that people choose this lifestyle still pervades some minds. Perhaps they wish to absolve themselves of responsibility by turning a blind eye to others’ suffering. But here are the facts. No one chooses poverty. OK, that’s not true, very few people choose poverty, probably less than 1%.

Poverty strikes people in many walks of life and for many reasons. Sometimes, more often than not, it is the result of suffering a debilitating illness or injury. When this happens there are many stages that one’s life goes through. Not just the stages of grief for the life that you’ve lost, but the stages of degradation, shame, and guilt as your life and circumstances fall into disrepair around you. When faced with the prospect of only ever getting about half to three fourths of what you need every month and only about 60% of the food that you need, if you’re receiving food assistance, you’re stressed out constantly. You’re perpetually worried, confused, and unhappy. You often feel like a failure. If you’re able to manage to be a little more productive and find something that helps you to function better, you find yourself struggling and striving to get ahead or to simply catch up.

You notice that there are no budget tips, investment opportunities, or financial advice for poverty incomes. Do you know why? Because there are no ways to manage it. There are no ways to utilize or stretch or make your money last. It simply doesn’t. Month after excruciating month. It simply ways on you and inundates your life with uncertainty.

This isn’t meant to be a political debate, but a human one. How can we as a society grow, prosper, and progress when so much of our population suffers needlessly? How can we incorporate true reform? True change? Change that matters not just to individuals, but to society as a whole? As you can see there are burgeoning questions, but few answers.

A Case of Need, Not Greed 

How is justice served by the proliferation of poverty? Can reform be a step away? These answers are never simple. We can read and study sociology and socio-political trends for days and we can insert links into articles about how we feel either way, for or against, conservative or liberal. But that’s just talk, rhetoric, and philosophy. It does little to change the state of society as a whole and how it sees the poverty-stricken. Seeing people for something other than what they are. Many conservatives feel as if the impoverished are greedy and wish to gain more social services out of some sense of entitlement, but this is simply not the case. Most people are simply desperate. If someone is so poor they worry about money, would they not then want more? If they’re unable to work, or earn too much for fear of being cut off from the (very little) benefits that they do receive, would it not stand to reason that they’d be needy, not greedy? For maybe it is not welfare and social services which need to be reformed, but the mindset of those who do not go without. Can social change really be possible in today’s economy? Can the minds of some capitalists be steered towards compassion and charity. Perhaps just one person reading this can be inculcated toward a culture of community, compassion, and compromise to build a better civilization and a better society.

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