Wednesday, October 15, 2008

And the poor boy set out on his adventure...

Today is Blog Action Day, when bloggers around the world post on one topic to raise awareness and build momentum for change. This year's topic is poverty.

Once upon a time there was a poor boy...

When I was a kid we didn't have stuff like you do today...

How many stories start out with the memory of poverty and arc through to riches and comfort? Over and over again, we tell the story of wealth obtained through luck or hard work or guile. The collective memory of want is deeply ingrained in human experience.

No matter where we are on the scale of wealth - living in a refugee camp eating gruel or one of the super rich - there is always something we hunger for, some kind of poverty that seems to haunt us. Here in America, where I am writing, many of us are lucky. We have the wealth to feed ourselves, afford clothing and shelter. Even if it isn't what we might think we want, we have enough. We have enough that obesity is an epidemic and we throw away more than many nations consume.

But poverty is still everywhere. Walk through the inner city and see the buildings falling down. Travel through the country landscape and search out the more insidious forms of rural poverty, where washing machines on porches distract us from roofs that let in the rain. Yet even this poverty is mild compared to that in other countries. Children with swollen bellies. The favelas of Rio, the slums of India, on and on and on.

Our capacity to allow our fellows to suffer is deeper than we care to admit - it's easy to change the channel, it's easy to say, "I don't have spare change this month." It's this poverty of the spirit that lets us ignore the change we can create.

When the story begins with Once Upon a Time, the poor boy always meets helpers. We are those helpers. Those of us with the resources to write and read blogs. You and me. Be the old woman on the road who offers the magic spell, the hand up. Be the companion who finds the resource the hero needs.

So imagine this:
You're hungry. You haven't had a good meal in who knows how long. You're cold and tired and just worn out. You don't have access to a computer to read this blog - or to look for a job, or for a recipe if you had enough money for food anyway. Someday you'll tell your children about how you were really poor, to comfort them when you can't feed them. It's a rotten story.

Now imagine this:
A world where no one is so poor they can't afford to feed themselves and their children. A world where stories about poor heroes are just stores. A world where richness of the spirit has created ample opportunity for all.

We can be the change the world needs. All you need to do is open your eyes, look, and be a hero for someone else's story.

(c) 2008 Laura S. Packer
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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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