Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Poor Will Always Be Among Us

I am reading The Jungle, by Upton Sinclair. It's fascinating. It's a book about the meatpacking industry of the early 1900s. It describes what life was like, especially for immigrants, working in the meat packing and other poverty-inducing industries.

It explains in detail some of the horrific truths, such as human beings falling into the steam vats and disappearing, becoming part of the soap produced from the lard. Or the chemicals and bleach and moldy meat that was not fit for eating, that was all poured into the sausage bins, not to mention the rats and rat droppings, and dirty water, and much more disgusting articles, all thrown into the same bin. And, some would be labeled "premium" and cost more, though it was all the same meat.

It also describes the extreme poverty, and the lack of rights people had. The story focuses on a family from Lithuania that buys a "brand new" house (15 years old) and signs a contract with multiple hidden fees, interests, etc., and are eventually kicked out. Every person in the family must work, down to the children. They are working for mere pennies a day, in the worst working conditions imaginable.

As I've been reading, I've thought about Michael and my current process of trying to go through our stuff, getting rid of what we can't take with us to the East coast. I have realized how fortunate we are to have stuff to get rid of. And I think about this abject poverty that is so heart breaking. The crazy thing is this poverty still exists in our country and in our world. Obviously working conditions and food sanitation laws are improved, but there are still so many in need. This is part of what Michael is looking to do within his Masters program: figure out how to help people in poverty learn to sustain themselves in less-than poverty conditions.

We (our country, the world) have come so far, but at the same time, there are many needs. We know Jesus said there will always be the poor among us, but what does that really mean? And what can we do about it?

1 comment:

Brandt said...

the poor will always be among us, so screw um! right? That one liner makes me sick. It is used out of context EVERYTIME I hear it to justify our apathy. Jesus was responding to a the remark made by Judas (who was out to steal the money anyways it seems), saying that the woman should have sold the perfume and given the money to those in need instead of wasting it on the feet of Jesus; Which tells a few things... that first off, Jesus' teachings must have centered around selling our excess to take care of those who have none (luke 12, luke 18, etc).... and also making a similar reference like he did about bridegrooms fasting... Im here, so let her serve me with her gift... the poor will always be here, I wont... so as soon as im gone, get back to restoring jubilee for those who are broken... not The poor will always be here, screw um!