Poverty Has A Face

I have seen this video over and over again on CNN.  As a mother it broke my heart on many levels.  The pain that this man is going through having to bring his children to beg for money is evident on his face. 

Much of the talk in the news about the economy has been very abstract.  We have heard about bank failures,  and the dips in the stock market.  We have seen executives fly in private jets to hold out their hands and beg for money, but we have not really seen how this crises is effecting the average person.

We have been socialized to walk by the underclass when see them lying on the streets.  It is almost as though we feel that by acknowledging their humanity we will somehow end up in the same situation.  The reality is that the economic situation is worsening everyday, and those people that we thought less of might very well be us soon.

We have already seen the recurrence of tent cities. When I see the pundits on CNN wax on in their tailor made suits and expensive jewelry, I cannot help but notice how disconnected they are from the realities of this hardship.  To them, this man and his children were just another story;  something to fill in the 24 hour news world until they could move onto something more attention grabbing.

Now more than ever we need to rediscover the sense of community that capitalism has crushed within us. Capitalism has pit us against each other with the false idea of promoting a “healthy form of competition”. 

It has caused us to believe in the lie of meritocracy.  No matter how hard you work you can never pull yourself up by your bootstraps, when you don’t have a boot.  The people have not failed, it is the system that has failed. 

As I look at this man, with the stigma of poverty covering every inch of his being, I know that his reality was created in a boardroom far from  the street on which he begs.  The hunger pangs of his children were created with the stroke of a pen that signed his pink slip. 

Food, shelter, clothing and education are all human needs, they are not arbitrary desires and yet we have commodified them.  By placing a dollar value on the necessities of life we have assured the suffering of millions across the globe.   What makes one being more entitled to food than another?  A CEO does not work any harder than a single mom trying desperately to keep a roof over the head of her children. 

This worshiping of the golden idol must come to an end.  This uneven culture that we have built upon consumption is slowly becoming our undoing.  It is not healthy for us as a people, and it is not healthy for the earth.

We have placed environmental concerns secondary, in an effort to raise more capital.  What is the value of capitol if it cannot clothe you, feed you, educate you, or house you.  It has no tangible value other than that which we give it. To create it we must kill something.  Think of the irony of that, to make a dollar we must kill a tree.  Each time we touch it, we are hold a symbol of destruction.

At the end of the day I don’t want to hear anymore about CEO’s and their jets, or their business retreats.  I want to learn about the ways in which we are going to dismantle a system that is so irrational that we have endowed corporations with the same rights as a living and breathing human being. 

I want to learn about the ways in which we are going to reconnect with the earth and each other.  Capitalism is a virus that we have allowed flourish and in its wake the bodies are beginning to stink of decay.  It is time for solidarity and it is time for peace. 

The proletariat need not look at each other and assign blame, for indeed we are faultless; it is those who daily live in splendour on the labour of our sweat that should feel ashamed. While they sip on their expensive wines, the children of this world go hungry.  Socialism is not the devil that we have been lead to believe.  Honestly what could be more awful than a system that daily sets us against each other, in the support of gain.  What could more awful than a system that daily reifies racism, sexism, homophobia, ageism, and ableism; all to ensure that we are divided from one another.

The end of capitalism may not necessarily bring an end to all of the divisions that currently plague us, but it will certainly go a long way to  healing the sickness that we have allowed  to infest our society.

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