50 years ago, during Lyndon Johnson’s first State of the Union Address on January 8, 1964, he announced: “This administration today, here and now, declares unconditional war on poverty in America.” Despite this determination many political, social and economic factors became obstacles rather means to success. Numerous resources are available today for analysis, reflection and action.
Years later government stats demonstrate we are facing a reality of over 46 million people in poverty in the United States. More than 16 million children – over 20% – live below the poverty level. 1 in 6 people go hungry in America and millions cannot provide for their families.
Statistics related to race and gender are part of this picture and are likewise disturbing and revealing. For stats and analysis go to Center for American Progress: www.Americanprogress.org/issues/women/report/2008 or my web site: www.paradigmsshifting.org/women-society
Today we hear another strong and persistent voice:
“While the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies, which uphold the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation, and thus deny the right of control to States, which are charged with providing for the common good. A new, invisible, and at times virtual, tyranny is established; one which unilaterally and irremediably imposes its own laws and rules.” Address by Pope Francis to new Vatican ambassadors, May 16, 2013
Cultural films such as “Wall Street” in the 1980s and the Martin Scorsese film, “Wolf of Wall Street” in 2014 seem to reflect the principles and culture described above.
We know the poor are getting poorer, the middle class is disappearing so the numbers of those living in poverty increase while the affluent class (1%) grows exponentially; thus the gap between those in poverty and the wealthy becomes a chasm which keeps expanding.
Finally, I received this e mail this morning related to the possibility of unemployment benefits being cut: “I recently watched a movie about a boy who was on a ship that started to sink. Luckily, for him, there was a lifeboat he could scramble onto; otherwise, he would have drowned. But what do you do when you’re on a sinking ship—and there is no lifeboat?”
We all lead busy lives and different lives. I believe all of us, in our own way, can include those living in poverty whether they live in the U.S. or developing countries. How are those persons who are on the margins, forgotten, desperate in my consciousness or world? How am I part of the lifeboat?