I was having a discussion with a friend about my trip to Sri Lanka. She also visited that country sometime after I made my trip. We were both told by our Sri Lankan hosts that servants could not be trusted. They will steal from you. The servants are the poor.
As Westerners we both thought the same thing. Huh? To our ears it sounded like, ‘The servants are poor and from the lower class; therefore, they will steal from you.’
My friend pointed out that poverty makes people desperate. So, I wondered what might happen if we began to lift people out of poverty. What kind of drastic changes would we see in our societies? Would the crime rate drop? It should.
Frederick Douglass, an African-American social reformer, abolitionist, orator, writer and statesman* said, “Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”
Working for a political party during last October’s election, I began to think about social justice. I wondered how poverty can exist in a country as rich as Canada. (I know, shouldn’t I have thought of this much sooner? Yes!)
Confucius said, “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.”
I am not sure if I believe we are well governed or badly governed. This I believe – Canada should be ashamed of its record with First Nations, Inuit and Métis.
Homelessness and hunger should not exist, and no community should be without clean water in this country. I am thankful for initiatives like the Alliance to End Homelessness. They are doing great work and I feel hopeful that change is coming. (Please check them out at http://endhomelessnessottawa.ca/)
Ban Ki-moon said, “Grave security concerns can arise as a result of demographic trends, chronic poverty, economic inequality, environmental degradation, pandemic diseases, organized crime, repressive governance and other developments no state can control alone. Arms can’t address such concerns.”
I could not agree more. Arms is not the answer. I look at the United States and the fear-mongering with which its media aims at the people. The debate about whether teachers should be allowed to carry arms makes me shake my head in wonder.
To conclude, Mother Teresa said, “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
What I discovered while working for a political party was that people just want to be heard. I could not resolve their concerns, but what I could do was listen and let them know that I cared about them. I simply listened. As it turned out, listening was crucial in making people feel wanted, loved and cared for.
Without knowing it, I made them feel rich! And, it cost me nothing.