A number of people were interviewed for this film. One spoke of the difficulty of moving from being someone who could offer help to being someone who needed help. This man had been brought up to be self-sufficient; coming to terms with receiving help was difficult. The poverty line for a family of 4 in 2012 was $23,050; for a single individual it was $11,170. Can you imagine trying to live on that – even with some help from a local food pantry or from food stamps?
In this country, the richest nation in the world, one in four children now lives in poverty. Seventy-one percent of food stamps go to households/families with children. Another fact that was presented was this: the rate of suburban poverty is now higher than urban poverty. There was discussion too, of the way people living in poverty are suffering from trauma: either from the sudden shift in the way someone has made meaning in his or her life to a new (and unwelcome) perspective; or from the nihilism of those whose families have been in poverty for generations.
There was a clearly articulated statement for the need of systemic change in our country to address the issue of poverty. And that left me feeling impotent. I know I cannot change the system. And then I remembered the man on the shore tossing star fish that had washed in, back into the ocean, making a difference to the ones he threw back. And today Liz Toner, a Face Book friend shared this graphic. We ARE someone. We can do SOMETHING. Donate not only foodstuffs to your local food pantry, donate cash so they can buy needed items or give money to buy perishable products. I’m certain there are lots of other things we can do. Lend a hand in whatever way you can. Share the light and hope of the season. Hope is essential to moving on from today into tomorrow...for all of us.
(If you’d like to learn more about the film you can find it here: http://thelinemovie.com/. It runs about an hour and would be a great resource for church outreach or mission groups to use to talk about poverty.)