Monday, March 18, 2013
As I have referenced before in my sporadic blog entries, I have taken on the responsibility of being a Guardian ad Litem for the children of an area family. In my Guardian ad Litem role, our county juvenile court has appointed me to represent the best interests of the children, as their parents work through issues which keep them from performing the job themselves. It has been wonderfully rewarding, and also eye-opening – especially regarding both the strengths and the abuses of our current welfare system.
But this blog entry is about something else – the mentality of poverty, and how it differs from the middle-class mentality, with which I am clearly familiar. I attended a workshop last week that opened my eyes, and immediately took me to the Bible in my thoughts. The reason is that there are many references to people in poverty in both the Old Testament and new, especially by Jesus – and (a-ha!) the references are positive, while those in the middle class, a place that can be mired in complacency, self-satisfaction, judgment and naked ambition, bear the brunt of biblical wrath.
Clearly God has a heart for the poor. When I referenced poverty, many, many Scriptures were listed. As I read them, I remembered that “poverty” has to do with more than money, but those in need in all conditions – spiritual as well as physical. Still, I don’t want to use that realization for my own selfish purposes, justifying turning my back on those in need, dismissing them as lazy, while I cling to my wealth.
In my workshop, I learned that for those in poverty, RELATIONSHIPS are in the middle of everything, while in the middle class, the driving force is on achievement, and in the upper class, connections. I also learned that those in poverty focus on TODAY, while in the other classes, the focus is on tomorrow (the middle class) and yesterday (the upper class). Those in poverty spend their money, while the middle class manages money, and the upper class conserves and invests it. Those in poverty hang out with people they like, while the middle class values self-sufficiency and the upper class often excludes. The driving force for those in poverty is relationships and survival; for the middle class work, achievement and security; and the upper class is most focused on connections, policy and stability.
Finally, in the workshop, I heard all about a highlight of the neighborhood – A “Coming Home Party.” You can probably guess the theme – a loved one is out of prison and the entire community rejoices. Of course such celebrations don’t exist for the middle and upper classes. The freed one is quietly blended back, in embarrassed hope that no one even recognizes he was gone.
Surely, in honesty, those of you reading this who know your Bibles, can see the parallels throughout my lessons learned. Think the Beatitudes, the prodigal son, the sheep and the goats, the Cross. Those reading who have little interest in the Bible at least can see applications in everyday life. And as always, when I point one finger out, three are pointed back. Food for thought, contemplation, meditation, prayer!