Reflections on the Working Poor
With the various resources made available to those in underprivileged circumstances (student loans, food stamps, WCI), one could very easily assume that taking advantage of these resources is a solution to escaping poverty and not doing so indicates laziness. At least that’s how I felt for the longest time. However, with potentially unattainable requirements in the overall tedious application process; a plethora of everyday obligations, and long hours of work for low pay (If a job is even available), actually receiving said benefits seems less possible than I thought. For some of the working poor in our society, everyday could be a fight to survive. Knowing about the injustices that affect those around us and not having a way to break these chains is heartbreaking, but this is where we can remind ourselves that we don’t have to be the one to create a change, but through God, we can trust that He’ll bring the healing that this world needs.
Reflections on Homelessness
University of Arkansas
This past week was justice week—focused on the idea of Biblical social justice, and the various social injustices our nation currently faces. Instead of participating in common team-building exercises during community week, we spent time reading in the Scriptures about how Jesus’ ministry was God and others-focused, such as in Matthew 6 where Jesus instructed people to not worry about “what you will eat or what you will drink...or what you will wear...but seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.”
On Thursday after returning from our sites, the staff initiated a multi-day, in-depth simulation
that lasted until Saturday. We were placed into 3 groups simulating the experiences of
impoverished immigrants, the working poor, and the homeless. I, Philip, Hope H, and Amos
were placed in the homeless group. We spent a day and a half walking around town to
meet the homeless—learn their stories and experience. For the first time, I saw them as real
people. The kind you can have an honest, intelligent conversation with. They were comprised of all different races and ethnicities, and while a few showed signs of a mental illness, ALL of them were keenly aware of their predicament and position, and many were simply grateful for a conversation with anyone who didn’t ignore them.
This past week challenged my suspicions and fear of the homeless, as well as my previous
attitude of ignoring them. At the same time, we learned in sessions that the factors leading to
homelessness are often wide-reaching, historically difficult to remove, and often ignored by the greater public in favor of keeping them out of view. One thing I know for certain is that I will never ask myself again if someone begging for money is worthy of my generosity. For every possible conman, there are countless men and women who are laying down their dignity for a dollar to spend on bread.