I recently overheard someone say the poor should not be helped because they are too lazy to help themselves and they created the situation they live in. I quickly discovered this was not an uncommon thought. In response to such an accusation I quote Thomas More as he explains, “…for if you suffer your people to be ill-educated, and their manners to be corrupted from infancy, and then punish them for those crimes to which their first education disposed them, what else is to be concluded from this but that you first make thieves and then punish them?”
The context More writes of was such that servants and thieves were considered one in the same. But to utilize his words today, I want to use his advice as a way to explain poverty as an undesirable position. So many of our poor in this nation know nothing more than what they have been brought up on. Poverty is a demon many across the world face in their lives everyday. Yes, there are some miraculous stories where several have triumphed – they are rare and far apart. Many in poverty know nothing else and are not educated to know there is more to achieve than trying to survive day by day.
Our democratic nation allows for those in poverty to rise above this status. Though it can be very difficult, it’s an even harder task to accomplish in nations across the world. Yet so many people in the world turn their backs upon those less fortunate than themselves. I hope you see these people as human beings just like yourself – a mother, a daughter, a father or even a brother. They have hopes and dreams and a soul within them. They make mistakes like us: Whether that mistake brought them where they are today or not, they all deserve to be respected, helped and given the benefit of the doubt. Before we speak or judge another, imagine yourself without your comfortable lifestyle. Imagine a life where all those surrounding you are scraping to find food each day, and the common ideology is never invest yourself beyond basic survival. Then ask yourself how you would escape such a situation.