When we talk about the poor we continuously talk as though we are so fortunate to have such privilege, we’re so “blessed” and we hope for others to have what we have… but we don’t think about the freedom we might enjoy if we didn’t strangle ourselves with excess, piling walls of wealth around us which block our vision. We don’t stop to wonder if the “American dream” and the accumulation of wealth is actually another kind of poverty. I know a family who just lost both of their cars. Their two kids have to carpool to school and the mother pretty much walks everywhere and gets a ride to work. She stopped into my mom’s store the other day and told her about how great it was that she gets to walk now. My mother described her attitude as "contagious." She’s lost 12 pounds, enjoys the weather more than she ever has before, and now she feels like she really is getting to know her community in a new way. She’s free from her wealth, she doesn’t need it. Perhaps along with compassion we should look upon the poor (I’m not talking about those who don’t have what they need but those who don’t have excess… like a car) with a healthy dose of envy… you think you need your car, they’ve been freed from that delusion.
Now, of course, the sort of poverty that kills people, the kind that denies people their basic needs is never, in any case, anything less than evil. But the poor can free us, offer us a sort of salvation. They can guide us, if we'll follow them, into a more simple life and possibly even into a life of gratitude and contentedness. They can lead us beyond our world where we continuously look to our wealth to save us, for our retirement plans and our pensions to be our savior, and into a world where we look to one another for help and perhaps even begin to see Christ, the crucified messiah, as our savior.
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