No One in the U.S. is Poor
I'm sorry, but no one in America is poor.
No, I'm not blatantly ignoring the fact that there people in the U.S. who need help. I'm not forgetting about the hungry kids, the homeless men and women, the people who can't afford proper healthcare, or any of the other major issues in our country that reveal brokenness. I don't want you to think that I'm ignoring the pain, the death, or the problems that do exist in our country or saying that they don't deserve our attention. They do. They absolutely do.
People are hurting here, the same as people hurt everywhere.
But there's the thing.
The majority of our "poor" are wealthier than 97% of all other people on the globe. Even our homeless have access to shelters and charities who will feed and cloth them. Most people (with exception to those struggling with a physical or mental illness or disability) can seek out help and survive. And at the very least food and water is plentiful here (as opposed to areas where there isn't even food available to steal).
Maybe it's just that my definition of "poor" differs from most?
If you own a car, you're not poor.
If you own a TV, you're not poor.
If you have more than one room in your home, you're not poor.
If your floors aren't made of dirt, you're not poor.
If you have a job that pays you minimum wage, you're not poor.
If you have toilet paper in your house, you're not poor.
If you eat everyday and have access to clean water, you're not poor.
If you have ever bought something that wasn't strictly for survival, you're not poor.
If your kids attend school, you're not poor.
If you have air conditioning, you're not poor.
Poor is not owning a single pair of shoes.
Poor is raising a family of 8 in a one room shack (that you made yourself from scraps) with a dirt floor.
Poor is not being able to send your kids to school.
Poor is not having a school to send your kids to.
Poor is not having access to clean water and having to walk miles everyday for the water you do get.
Poor is dying of preventable and treatable diseases because there isn't a doctor in your village.
Poor is becoming a slave in order to feed your family or pay off the debt of caring for a sick family member.
Poor is selling one of your children into slavery in order to feed the rest of your children.
Poor is abandoning your children because you can't afford to feed them.
Poor is dying of starvation because there isn't even food to steal.
Poor is having no options. No ability to change your circumstances. No control over your life.
Too often, those who live in the bottom tier of a privileged country start to believe that they are poor because they have a difficult time paying their cable bill. The standard of living in our country makes you feel poor when your kids have to share bedrooms, or can't pay your bills. And honestly, the cost of living is so high that I often feel overwhelmed by the fact that it's sometimes hard to make ends meet on my income.
Look, I know there are people without jobs. I know the cost of living is high. I know that people are losing their homes, filing bankruptcy, dying because they can't afford the cost of medical treatments. I know people live on the streets and kids go to bed hungry.
I know. And I care.
But I often feel we've lost perspective in this country. Especially when a teenager claims their life is over because their xbox isn't working. Especially when someone is on food stamps but owns a smart phone. Especially when I hear someone complain about what they deserve or what they are owed. Or when I buy new clothes, or when I spend $50 on a meal for two, or when I complain that the air conditioning isn't working.
There are thousands upon thousands of people who not only do not have electricy, indoor plumbing, or a job...but are starving to death and being sold into slavery. There are children who are raped every day over and over so that someone else can turn a profit. There are people who live in fear of death and violence, people who have no idea if they'll be alive tomorrow.
For the most part, we have it pretty good in this country. Even when we're poor, we're often wealthy.