To Make the Invisible Visible!

Can you remember the last time you heard the presidential candidates speak about people living in poverty? We hear concerns about the middle class and outrage over the top 1% and tax cuts but what about those persons who aren’t included in these categories? Think about it! To name a few who aren’t ‘counted’ – women & girls caught in human trafficking, homeless people, drug addicts, single moms and their children, elderly women and men, farmworkers, rural and urban poverty, an imbalance in races with black and Hispanic greater percentages within their races. 

To view a visual illustration of the distribution of wealth see chart below
inequality-page25_actualdistribwithlegend-1A Harvard business prof and a behavioral economist recently asked more than 5,000 Americans how they thought wealth is distributed in the United States. Most thought that it’s more balanced than it actually is. Asked to choose their ideal distribution of wealth, 92% picked one that was even more equitable.

To get a glimpse of how a family of four living in poverty ‘gets by’ watch the following 4-minute video:

When I was young I was blessed to have numerous experiences working and living with those who were in need – e.g. in the inner city, with migrant farmworkers, teaching in an inner city school, traveling to and living in developing nations such as El Salvador, Nicaragua, Malawi, etc.  All of this convinced me that the most effective way to raise awareness, knowledge, and commitment to the gospel message of ‘preferential option’ was to create bridges and meet those living in poverty on their own turf!

So, years ago, as parish liaison in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, I coordinated a 3-day experience in the inner city for suburban parishes named Urban Plunge (early 80s). Later, at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, we designed a similar program entitled ‘Women Walk Talk’- teaming inner city and suburban women to experience the reality of poverty together. (Late 80s) Still later, at LCWR (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) our Global Concerns Committee organized an experience on the U.S./Mexico border for some of the group’s membership. (1990s) finally, in the 2000s, initiated by the Associate Office, we cooperated with planning Immersion Experiences for our Sisters of Charity Associate Members.  The purpose of these variations on a theme?  To Make the Invisible Visible!

Three questions began our introduction to all of these programs which were designed to both respond to and demonstrate the realities, especially for those in poverty:

 What does the economy do to people?

 What does the economy do for people?

 How do people participate in it?

(Taken from the U.S. Bishops’ pastoral letter, Economic Justice for All)

Finally, in David Hollenbach’s(SJ) book, Claims in Conflict, he asserts: The participation of marginalized groups takes priority over the preservation of an order that excludes them.



2 thoughts on “To Make the Invisible Visible!

  1. Kay Jackson October 6, 2016 at 4:43 pm

    I grew up in a family where my mom was an R.N. and my dad a body man for cars. We didn’t have much money and clothes were purchased based on need, food for how well it worked in soups or casseroles and I saw nothing wrong with 1 bathroom. I was rich by the standards presented in the poverty vignettes.Although I know what it is like to have the gas and electricity turned off- I also know the thrill of being able to turn it back on- both as a child and as an adult. I never realized how thin the line is that seperates the haves,and have most. Yes, we sent Mike to school but at large financial and physical-mental costs. We are on that cusp and out of time.

  2. Kay Jackson October 11, 2016 at 5:07 pm

    To make the Invisible visible, local news should show the poverty existing within our own communities and not in the easy to present statistics and charts. Rather, there should be stories of life on the margins. The decisions which need to be made. The choices of daily life. The life that is led and how easy it is for that life to lead where you do not want it to go. Children, teens, adults, everyone needs to be made to see these stories so they can be educated about the issue and become part of the solution instead of falling into the biases of so many adult

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