Have you ever wondered what it is like to be on the receiving end of charity or to have someone treat you with pity simply because you are poor? The emotional cost of being poor can be extreme. Imagine being a parent who cannot afford to buy Christmas presents for your children. Your only option is to stand in line at the local Christmas present distribution site. Then when you get to the front of the line you have to explain and justify to a complete stranger, from another and most likely wealthier neighborhood, what your “needs” are. It takes a tremendous amount of courage to go through this process.
Christmas presents are just the tip of the iceberg. Finding food, housing, and healthcare are constant concerns for the poor. Having to decide between taking a minimum wage job or staying home with young children is almost an impossible decision. Stability, especially for children, is a constant issue. When housing isn’t stable and long-term then neither is schooling or friends.
Too often the “solution” for poverty has something to do with curing “laziness.” Before I go further it is important to recognize that there are lazy poor people, but I have serious doubts that the rate of laziness among the poor is any greater or less than the rates of laziness among the wealthy. Many of the poor I know are hardworking, creative, entrepreneurial, and smart.
There are many reasons for poverty: a down-turn in the economy, medical bills that couldn’t be paid, mental illness, service men and women who have been abandoned by “the system,” people with no family support system, and immigration policies designed to maintain an underclass of cheap labor.
Make no mistake; there is a price to be paid for being poor. The cost of poverty can be reduced as Christians choose to treat each other less like projects and more like family.