Before you read this, check out Digital Photography School’s collection of images of poverty. And you might also want to see my previous post on the Question of the OTHER.
Because when it comes to poverty, I think many of us (for one, we have Internet access, so that says something about our economic status) – many of us think that povery is not our problem, is the problem of the OTHER.
Who are the poor people? How many really poor people, people who worry about the next meal, have you met? What do you know about them, their beliefs, their feelings, their world?
I know barely anything. To me, they are the OTHER.
Even worse, we often blame people for their poverty: “Oh, if they only worked. If they only worked harder.”
One person I met who was relatively poor was my neighbor Nancy, in Lafayette, Indiana. She wanted to work, but if she did, she’d earn not enough money, but enough to disquaify her from Medicare. The system didn’t allow her to break out of poverty.
We don’t know or understand the poor, but we sometimes feel guilty and throw pennies at them. Throwing money at the poverty problem definitely has to solve it, it’s all about money, isn’t it?
But is throwing money at the problem giving people fish or teaching them how to fish?
More often than not, he have this “better-than-thou” attitude – we’re a rich society, we know better, let us teach you how not to be poor anymore. But how about the poor in the U.S.?
We can talk about it all we want, and we can throw money at the problem. But solving poverty ultimately takes systemic changes. We need, in the U.S. and globablly, a caring, humane social system that takes care of people. A system that supports, educates, and empowers.
Which presidential candidate is more likely to help create such a system in the U.S. and have a caring, non-patronizing attitude towards global poverty? See this side-by-side comparison.