It is a revolutionary world we live in. Governments repress their people; and millions are trapped in poverty while the nation grows rich; and wealth is lavished on armaments.
For the fortunate among us, there is the temptation to follow the easy and familiar paths of personal ambition and financial success so grandly spread before those who enjoy the privilege of education. But that is not the road history has marked for us.
The future does not belong to those who are content with today, apathetic toward common problems and their fellow man alike. Rather it will belong to those who can blend vision, reason and courage in a personal commitment to the ideals and great enterprises of American society.
-Robert F. Kennedy-
The other night before heading out to dinner a friend and I were talking about the upcoming election. We discussed the candidates and issues we were most concerned with. This election year has focused a lot on the middle class. I suppose since most Americans fall into this group focusing on getting their votes is a good idea. My friend said she understood the need of worrying about needs of the middle class, but she was more concerned about the poor. She recalled an early memory of Robert Kennedy visiting the Appalachian Mountain in Kentucky. The year was 1968. Robert Kennedy conducted a two-day tour of the rural areas of Kentucky known as the Poverty Tour. The images of the coal miner families living in poverty stayed with my friend for over 40 years.
It is hard to imagine that in our land of plenty that many Americans are struggling to stay alive. Most envision poverty to exist in the inter- cities, but it can be found anywhere. We go about our daily lives often never seeing someone poor. They are invisible to us.
Right now as I type to you on my home computer, listening to my boys jump on their new trampoline, waiting for my husband to bring my mini-van home from being filled with expensive gasoline there are people in America are wondering where their next meal will come from. They are wondering how they will get to work without money to buy gas or a bus pass. They are wondering if they will lose their home because they are unable to pay the rent.
Occasionally I am reminded of the poor when I see a homeless person on the street. At times their personal state is too painful to look at and I can’t look them directly in the eye. I consider myself a compassionate person. I do care about people and their well-being, but the problem is I tend to focus more on my immediate surroundings. I help those who I am connected to somehow: teachers at the boys school, neighbors, family and friends. It isn’t that I don’t care about people living in poverty it’s just I can’t see them, so sometimes they get forgotten.
At times I feel guilty for my happy life. There are those who say I have nothing to feel sorry for because I have worked hard. I have worked hard, but I also have never experienced poverty nor had to work my way of it…which really would be much harder than anything I have ever done. Not everyone starts at the same place at the race for life. Some start farther ahead with abundant finances, great schooling and excellent healthcare. While others start behind merely because they were born into a family with limited resources.
My friend reminded me I need to keep the poor in a more visible spot in my life. I need to find out who needs my help and find ways to help them. We all do. The government can and should do all they can to help those in poverty, but I must do my part too. I must do more than pray for those who are suffering. I must do more than send a check or two. I must realize that although some people are hidden from view they still exist.
Being poor isn’t a crime. Most people who live in poverty don’t want to live that way.
No one wants to be forgotten.