Wednesday, September 22, 2010

What Do We Do With the Poor?

In Psalm 113 we read:  Who is like the Lord, our God enthroned on high, looking down on heaven and earth?  The Lord raises the needy from the dust, lifts the poor from the ash heap, seats them with princes, the princes of the people...(NAB)

If God has a preferential option for the poor can we do less?  It has been both disheartening and heartening over the past few days to read about the various reactions to poverty in our nation and in the world.  In a story the other day in the Washington Post, it was pointed our that there was little reaction from politicians in Washington over the news that now one in seven Americans is living in poverty - what has been called a "national emergency."  Yet the reaction on Capitol Hill reflects what the writer calls "a stubborn reality about the poor - they are not much of a voting constituency."  It would seem from this reaction that what many are saying about our elected representatives may be true - they may be more concerned about their election chances than worrying about a segment of the population that are not usually in the voting mainstream.  One representative put it this way:  "Politicians ten to talk to people who get involved."

It was also disheartening to hear a comment made by a candidate for major public office in this state that New York (supposedly under his leaderhip) would no longer be a haven for "the poor and the disenfranchised..."  Where are the poor to go?  Are they no longer welcome in New York (or other places where folks may feel the same way)?

The heartening news has been that the United Nations has been conducting a summir on global poverty in an attempt to meet the goals set out in 2000 - the Millennium Development Goals.  These goals set the year 2015 as a target year for aiding the poor throughout the world by asking nations to commit to aid the poor.  Of course when there is an "open mike" for world leaders to make their points it is unfortunate that some have chosen to focus on international disputes rather than focusing on the issue of poverty.  A pledge from French President Nikolas Sarkozy should be well received by those concerned with dealing with poverty in the world.

God has a preferential option for the poor - where do we stand?

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