Posted by: drjamm | October 15, 2008

The ravages of poverty

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.” –Mahatma Ghandi

A person forced into poverty faces, not only physically danger due to malnourishment and unsafe living conditions, but also, profound degradation of her, or his dignity, as well as, supreme challenges to their mental well-being. Poverty hurts. Poverty ravages Body and Soul. Poverty leads starving civilians to raise arms and attack others who have more than enough food, clothing, and adequate shelter. Poverty can, if left unchecked, strip the moral flesh off the Soul just as surely as it erodes the flesh off the starving physical body. But the degradation of the Spirit is not restricted to those who live in poverty. Indeed, the active ignoring of the pain of others can, over time, strangle the compassionate heart, stifle the Will to be of use to others, and create a truly impoverished moral Self. I would argue that the harm of not responding consciously and compassionately to others’ pain brings about a darkness of the soul.

Acting morally requires personal dignity, stamina, hope, and vision. Poverty humiliates, starves, disheartens, and burdens its victims. Is it any wonder that a person living in poverty, or one who is non-responsive to the poverty of others can become shocked and numb when faced with the many levels of trauma that poverty brings in its wake? Is it any wonder that we can FEAR  people who are living in poverty (see my prior blog on my fear of facing child poverty)? That person over there begging on the street could be me –some day; she could be you. That possibility scares me enough to want to run away from thinking about, for example, street people and the cycle of homelessness/ addiction/ begging/ humiliation. But, though I sometimes feel powerless to make BIG changes, I choose to stay conscious and present in witnessing the painful reality of others who are going cold and hungry. The first step is stay present and open to others.

When I think of what I can do for those who have been hurt by poverty, I remind myself that I not only have to open my eyes to really see Poverty’s physical damage, but also, I must tenderly — and liberally –bring as much Dignity and Light to Spirit and Soul as I can. Restoration of dignity may look very different for different people, but my walking through –and past –the “fear-of-poverty”, to seeing the True Worth and Divine Purpose for each person is surely the next step to healing the ravages of poverty.

No spirit can remain unchanged in the face of poverty.

Credits and links:

Above photo from:

Above quotes came from: End Poverty Quotes

(bright heart singing, copyright 2008 – jamm. Creative commons attribution, non-commercial sharing only (translation: feel free to quote me in context or use this entry but please always credit me for my work, thanks.)


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