There seem to to be two streams of thought abour what being poor means in the U.S. Both are valid, both vital to any serious discussion of poverty. One is global, looking at the whole nature and profound impact of poverty; the other is far more personal, speaking to the personal experience of being poor.
Understanding and power despite the experience of being poor requires both perspectives, especially to the degree that our thinking and collective reasoning creates poverty and its horrific outcomes.
It is true that there are other kinds of riches, and for those fortunate few who live where avenues out exist, there are ways to escape. For them, attitude might make the difference. But that is the exception, not the rule.
For Most, No Escape from the Experience of Being Poor
For the many, there is no escape from the experience of poverty, and those other riches in no way make up for not being able to pay for food, shelter, medical care etc., or those of your loved ones. Happy talk don’t pay the rent, and neither does love. It won’t heal a sick child, or keep a poor women out of the sex trade.
For the many, experience of being poor is a trap, deadly and deadening. This is so even for those living in societies that provide at least a modicum of support. Being poor has extreme consequences, personally and socially. We all live our lives on both levels, me and we
If I am able to rise from poverty, it’s a beautiful thing, but a society where poverty is rampant and pervasive, will impoverish me in other ways. The needless suffering of others touches all, even those who have forsaken the part of themselves that cares.
No One Talks About the Experience of Being Poor
Look at our America today. Look closely, and see the suffering of its children, of its 150 million people living on the edge of desperation, and the millions more not far above them. Wonder what this means for our future. And wonder what it says about this self-proclaimed greatest nation. What does it say about our collective thinking, our will and morality.
Interestingly, the election banter doesn’t even branch mention poverty. Should the rich pay equivalent taxes, should corporations pay any, should the 99% pay even more?
When did the experience of being poor drop off the public’s radar screen?