Monday, August 26, 2013

What the wealthy have and don't want to lose

This blog is about power…so please read it to the end to understand me, because I use an example that has received all sorts of knee-jerk reactions from folks in the States.

I have a family member who loves to argue politics, economics, current events, etc. when we are together…it is sport with him.  Several years ago in one of our “discussions”…I said, “You have no idea what the world thinks of us as a nation [meaning the USA].”  He replied, “I don’t care.”

This last trip I made to SC, he said, “Is your president [meaning Nicaraguan] crazy?  Offering a place to Snowden?  Does he not know what that looks like from up here?”

Ahh!   And there we have the crux of the problem.  We who have power do not care what those who have no power think… BUT those without power should walk the path that others set for them.

Nicaragua's 1st "ultra-luxurious boutique resort"...
The wealthy do not care that they have multiple homes and cars….that they throw away more food than most families can eat in a year…that their lifestyle is gross and horrific in a world of poverty and starvation.  BUT have a kid whose family receives food stamps wear a pair of shoes that costs over $100…THEN the judgment comes down on the poor.

Wealthy Nicaraguans live audaciously - like wealthy people world over – and they see no harm or shame in their abundance.  But listen to them complain if the government gives out food or homes or low interest credit to the poor…suddenly the government is enabling the poor to not care for themselves.

... and it costs $500/person/night
I am always amazed at how we, the wealthy of the world, think we did something special that allows us our wealth and how we know what is best for the poor because somehow their poverty is linked to their wrong doing OR doing not enough.

It is all about power.  The wealthy have it, don’t want to lose it, and will do whatever is necessary to keep it….and that makes us crazy, illogical, and mean.

The poor do not have the power… and that makes them stressed, desperate, and without hope.

…unless they join together and “fight” -- non-violently or violently -- to get it.

I grew up with the Bible.  The prophets and the Torah said "Take care of the poor, the widows, the orphans…share your crops with the poor."   Jesus said over and over …in essence… Let go of the power.  Let go of the wealth.  Share.  Take care of the least of these.  Serve the outcasts.  Never did Jesus say to a widow, “Pull yourself up by your boot straps.”

We, the wealthy and the powerful, live in a world where the rich are getting richer and the poor poorer and that is not right.  We have to let go.  We have to share.  We have to co-exist.  And we have to respect the poor.  We just have to.  It is the right thing to do.  It is the sane thing to do. -- Kathleen

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Why Not?

Photo by Greg Ewert
Joseph, our son, goes to high school in Managua.  Many of the students come from wealthy homes and other countries.  He was reporting to me of one conversation he had with a new student about what we, his parents, did.  “My folks run an NGO in Ciudad Sandino.”

“A non-profit?”

“Yes,” says Joseph.


“To help poor people.”


“Because poor people need help.”

“But why are they doing it?” he friend persists.

Photo by Meghan O'Flagherty
Many people on delegations ask us, why we do what we do.  Is it because of our faith?  Is it because it gives us such good feelings to being doing so much good work?  Why?

Well, I would ask, “why is not everyone working for the poor?”

Really, why not?

Unless a person is so greedy and hard-hearted that they are just mean, why not help? 

Poor people who work together, struggle together, strive together…live better lives.

People who do not have to worry about where tomorrow’s food comes from…well, why are they not helping? 

All faiths call for alms for the poor…at a minimum.

Humanism calls for justice for all.  And who receives the least justice?  The poor.

Photo by Michelle Doak
People who talk about how rewarding the work must be for us obviously do not struggle day-in and day-out for the poor, because frankly it is heart breaking, it is wearing on the soul, it is exhausting. 
The reality of why we work for the poor is simply because it is the right thing to do.
But again… I think, my question is the more important question…Why not?
Why.  Not. -- Kathleen