Who cares about the poor? Do you?
Do you really?
I’ll be honest with you, I don’t care about the poor.
If I cared, I’d be more like Bono or Mother Teresa or even Wess Stafford — someone with influence and name recognition, someone with a story. If I cared, I’d do more, right? If I cared, I’d dedicate my life to serving the poor — as their champion, as their savior.
That may be a bit dramatic, but every day I battle a voice that constantly tells me I’m deficient as a person. The voice is aggravating, stupid, persistent, strong and above all, wrong. But despite the latter, fighting the voice is still the central focus of my waking hours. Ugh!
And despite what the voice is trying to convince me of, I do care. And I’m afraid.
I’m afraid of getting out of my comfort zone. I’m afraid of surrendering control. I’m afraid of what it might mean to have my behavior demonstrate that I care. What might that cost me?
Because I’m impatient, abrupt, often rude, condescending and even downright mean, the lie of poverty gains traction with me:
“If you cared, you’d be kinder. If you cared, you’d demonstrate love better. If you cared, you’d be more patient.”
And most days, I’m sad to say, this reasoning seems to make sense, which is baffling when I think about it because if I am patient, I’m just that … patient.
Attentiveness, patience, happiness, calmness, those are all behaviors and behavior is the fruit I bear — good or bad — but it is not who I am. And the absence of that fruit doesn’t mean I don’t care.
But what if the lie is actually the truth? What if I’m wrong and I don’t really care about the poor? Am I evil?
The Rev. Malcolm Duncan said, “When we fail to stand up for the poor, we fail to stand up for God,” and I believe that.
But the lie of poverty takes my belief and wraps it in guilt to convince me that I don’t really care about the poor, that I’m just doing what I think I’m supposed to be doing, that if I really cared I’d have more joy about it, and by extension I’m a bad person because I don’t have that.
On and on it goes. It’s sick really. The lie of poverty is sick!
Who cares about the poor? God does. Which is good for me because although my economic situation says I’m not poor, that’s a lie too.
And it’s good for you too because the lie I hear is the same lie I know you’ve heard a time or two,
“My sponsorship doesn’t make a difference.”
And it’s the same lie that your sponsored child fights every day,
“You don’t matter. No one cares about you.”
Who cares about the poor? Who cares about us?