on poverty

I've been thinking a lot about poverty lately. No, not the vow of poverty (although I do think of course think of that too as I try to live it) but the gut wrenching, life threatening kind of poverty we're seeing played out in Haiti and in the streets of our very cities.

One of the hats that I wear at my place of ministry--the Intercommunity Peace & Justice Center--is as editor of our quarterly justice journal. Our Winter Issue is on the theme of Poverty and Economic Justice. There are really some profound voices in this issue, including an article by Janice Connelly, a woman who has experienced homelessness in my own city of Seattle. She also wrote a poem which is printed in the issue which I'd like to share:

Ground Zero
I’ve learned Life is too short—
to disrespect another human’s dignity.

In recognizing this, I became able.
Able to respond to the hardships I,
and many of us face day in and day out.

I learned to utilize the many resources that
the wonderful city of Seattle has to offer.

I found strength and courage I didn’t know I possessed.
I received help and direction, and a way out of my
own way.

I want to thank all my sisters for every little thing good that is now.
— Janice L. Connelly

I thought of all this today as I was reading the paper with my morning cup of coffee and read an article about ingenuity in the midst of the destruction in Haiti - this particular article was about entrepreneurs charging cell phones. I suspect that there are many such stories, most untold, of human beings finding ways to live "for every little thing good that is now," even in the midst of poverty, pain and sorrow. We normally hear about the dramatic or devastating stories. The every day bits that really tell our stories as human beings are not usually fodder for news stories.

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