Blog Action Day – Poverty
Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Oct 15, 2008
As I decided to participate in this event, I sent a message to many of my friends and business associates, asking those who had blogs to participate in some fashion, and asking those who didn’t to read about it and possibly find another way to be a part of it.
I had one of my friends write back and ask me not to send her things like this, saying she didn’t believe in things like this, calling people who do anti-liberal-democrat crazies. I was sort of stunned by that, because I don’t see the topic of poverty as a political one. However, knowing her background, she’s someone who’s never had to struggle, nor worry about whether she was going to miss a meal or not be able to buy something she wanted, and probably has never known anyone who has. I’ve been there, but we hadn’t spoken for a long time when I was going through my little period of near poverty, which I wrote about on this post awhile back.
I’ve had periods of financial strife in my life, but I always knew that I could find a way out of it in some fashion. As a last resort, I could always decide to give up my freedom and my pride and live with my parents; at least back in the day I could, while I was still single, which is when I had my problems. I don’t think it qualifies as true poverty because I always had options; some people never have that option in their entire lives, so even at my lowest point, I had opportunities that would never be afforded them.
On my other blog, in my post on this same subject, I said that I haven’t volunteered as much as I probably should have in my life. I may not have volunteered, but I have worked in a place where many of the people who came live in poverty, and worry every day about whether or not they’ll have meals for their children, or clothes to put on their back, and wonder if the schools they send their children to are sufficient enough to give them a chance that they themselves never had.
I worked at a community health center for 2 ½ years. It was one of the jobs I got to help me get my life back in order back in 1993. The health center is on the edge of an area that’s not quite known as a slum or ghetto, but it is impoverished in its own way, and a very dangerous place to be at night. At an event back in 2003, while giving a presentation, I asked every participant in the room who had been four blocks south of our present location to try to do business, and not a single one of them raised their hands. In a way, it’s the forgotten area of town, only five blocks from the beginning of downtown.
The health center caters to everyone. However, the overwhelming majority of the people who come don’t have much money, if any money at all. Most of them are on Medicaid, which is a good thing. Many physicians across the country won’t see Medicaid patients, which leaves the health center with an almost exclusive clientele. At least 10% to 15% of those who come don’t have any insurance at all; at least half of those either live in one of the missions or is homeless in some other way. I know this because I used to register many of the people who came in.
Many of the people who visit the health center don’t come in cleaned up as if they were going to church. Odd as that sounds, when I was a child, even when I was really sick, my mother made sure to take the time to bathe me in some fashion, even if it was an alcohol bath, put me in clean, ironed clothes, and made me presentable before I could see a doctor. Yet, the directive of the health center is that every patient who comes in gets treated the same, with dignity and fairness, as if they were rich enough to go anywhere in the city or the country. Sometimes it was hard; there are a lot of people who have chips on their shoulder and don’t want to be treated nice. Other times, all they want is for someone to listen to them, give them a little bit of courtesy, and if you can make them laugh or feel comfortable in some way, you may help to make their day and week seem just a little bit nicer.
That’s pretty much the point I want to make in this particular post. Statistics say that the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. Truth be told, it really doesn’t take a lot to help those who don’t have as much as others life a better life. Even in our presently bad economy, there are some things that could help.
One, there’s plenty of food in the world, so much so that a lot of it is destroyed to keep prices regulated. Scrap that; pass it on to nonprofit organizations around the world to get people fed.
Two, let’s do what we can to stem the tide of poverty as it pertains to education. Without education, almost no one will ever have the chance to be something better than they are. Not everyone needs history and the like, but everyone needs to know how to read and how to do math. Even without homework or without enough books, this can be done.
Three, let’s get people working, and not slave labor jobs either. Every major city in the world has projects that need to be worked on. Contract with companies that agree to have at least 25% to 50% of the workforce on these projects coming from certain neighborhoods of the city, and give them a bonus if they provide childcare.
Four, hire people who work with and help those in need that have some compassion in their soul and a real yearn to install a sense of honor in people who may not be used to being treated with respect in their lives. Tone down the rhetoric against those who don’t have much; they didn’t ask for it.
I’m glad to have this opportunity to have my say on Blog Action Day. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to write for this blog, or how I wanted to end. So, I’ve decided to end with this little video: