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Poverty 101

December 19, 2012

We bought a goat and two chickens this week.

Our advent activity for Monday was to choose a gift from World Vision’s gift catalog to give to another family. The goat won.

But the next morning, the catalog was still on our kitchen table and I found Ella pouring over it, dismay, confusion, and sadness overwhelming her. Justice glands raving like little lunatic army guys ready to pounce… who is to blame for their poverty?

The back cover features a white man with an arm lovingly wrapped around an African boy and she accusingly asks, is it because of slavery? Did we do this? Are white people trying to make up for it all? It’s so confusing!

Unfortunate girl. Has she not learned? It’s like asking a band-junkie trivia about his hero’s breakfast cereal.

Ella… where to begin? So many factors. And 10 minutes before school. And you’re 9.

Reason 1: Colonialism.

England. Spain. Portugal…. took over India, Africa, and other countries and took all of their natural resources. They became richer and took over more countries while the people became even poorer. Sound like a game board? Even into the 1950s… until Ghandi told them ENOUGH. And Mossadegh in Iran told them ENOUGH. But when a people have been controlled by an Empire for so long… well, now they are baby countries. They have to learn how to get their own oil and mine their own minerals. They are starting from scratch.

Reason 2: Post WWI and WWII border making.

When lines were redrawn in the 1900s, people were put together who had completely different religious beliefs and languages! How were they supposed to follow one leader when they didn’t even speak the same language? So now you have fighting and war between tribes in Afghanistan, African countries, the borders of Pakistan and India. So again, the West failed to set up these countries for success.

Reason 3: Lack of savings.

If a person is so poor they are wondering where their next meal will come from, how can they save any money? If they have no savings, what happens when they need a doctor? They have to borrow money. And the people who loan them money charge a crazy interest so that they can never repay and they are always in debt. It goes around and around and they stay poor, unable to get ahead.

Reason 4: Evil reigns.

People are broken. They create broken systems. They take advantage of others for their own gain. This is not heaven on earth. Far from it. And we all suffer in different ways.

Have a good day at school!

I feel a little vindicated by my secret soulmate, Jen Hatmaker who has taken her job as xmas party planner for the 3rd grade and turned it into gift making for kids in the hospital and a book drive for them too!

What becomes of 9 year olds whose mothers confront poverty head on? Maybe they’ll change the world?

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