proud of the little bro…

…for this column that will be published in the Optimist soon.

Poverty exists for many reasons.

All situations are different One simple explanation can’t be blanketed over everyone living in a state of economic suffering.

Many publications have tried to tackle the subject in the past, offering reasons for economic suffering in Americans; many of these have failed.

An article printed in Issues & Views, a conservative publication for those “concerned about liberties lost, especially through the ongoing exploitation of race,” delivers one explanation for poverty:

“In economically mobile, relatively free societies, the poor are often guilty of failing to take steps to prosper. They marry too early and have too many kids and thus arrest their own development and, also, those of their children. They stick with bad jobs because they have gotten themselves into debt too early. They do not take time to get educated because they are in the hurry to have fun.”

This “economically mobile, relatively free society” mentioned in this article, entitled “Modern Liberal Condescension,” is an obvious reference to the United States. The writer didn’t just come out and say it, but he basically thinks that poverty can be attributed to laziness, irresponsibility and stupidity.

This argument sounds right from our middle-class American perspective. However, we don’t know what goes on in the lives of the poor individuals in this Abilene society. The true ignorance in the above argument rings clear to those who have experienced poverty.

Meet hypothetical Andrew. He was born into a five-member family and is the youngest of four siblings. His father left after he was born, and he’s lived with a single mother who has worked a $7.50 per hour job his entire life to support the large family but still depends on a Welfare check each month to get by.

The only thing he’s ever known is a less-than-adequate school system, a chaotic family life and the idea that he’s never going to break the barriers of race, location and economic status to become a successful person, in the standards of this capitalist America.

Andrew was doomed to lifelong poverty from the moment he was born â&emdash; or at least that’s what he’s been led to believe. He isn’t simply “in a hurry to have fun,” as the above excerpt states.

So, with this young man’s acquired taste for being down-and-out and having nothing to lose, he resorts to outlets that seem the best choice for the situation â&emdash; gang affiliations, violence, petty crimes and taking what he needs to survive.

Every story isn’t like this, but many of them are similar.

According to the Global Development Research Center, an educational resource that specializes in issues about the economy, environment, urban centers and community, many different reasons for poverty exist.

Lack of educational preparation, physical handicaps, culture of poverty and gender and racial discrimination are all reasons people live in poverty, according to the organizations Web site.

Laziness might be the immediate reason people live in poverty, but the true, underlying reason has everything to do with where a person comes from. Poor education or physical infirmities are not the fault of the child â&emdash; neither are the lifestyles an individual learns from his or her family or the neighborhood in which he or she grew up.

Technically, each person has a choice on how to live but, in reality, he or she really doesn’t.

But America needs to realize this; Abilene needs to realize this. The sooner the haves start helping the have-nots â&emdash; intertwining values and culture and breaking down racial and socioeconomic barriers â&emdash; the sooner the poverty level will drop.

Too often those with financial security, a strong support system and a strong educational background are so quick to judge those who are different that the aforementioned barriers of mistrust grow.

A change in attitude is in order for everyone, and the beginning of this change is trying to understand the lives of the poverty-stricken.

by Mitch Holt, 2006

Let Mitch know what you think — good and bad — in the comments section below. Also, Mitch is in a band called Homer Hiccolm and the Rocketboys, which will be playing at the Cornerstone Festival, the largest Christian music festival in the world, in Illinois this summer.

Please click here to vote for HHRB to play on the main stage at Cornerstone in front of 40,000 screaming indie rock fans.

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