Consider Poverty. I’ve been struck over the years, by so many people who reminisce about being poor and the level of dignity, character, tradition, ethic and appreciation it brought to their lives. They would remember how families and neighbors grew strong, and how a sense of community made life and relationships rich and rewarding. How many times have you heard: “we were poor, but as kids, we never knew we were poor...” ?
Today, “poverty” is our blanket term that, I believe, causes us some confusion...with an inherent judgment of poverty being bad, something to eradicate...and feeds into how we stereotype people, and shortchanges our creativity as we try to resolve the serious challenges faced by so many in our community.
Hunger is bad; homelessness is bad; violence and discrimination are bad; unemployment is bad; lack of affordable health care is bad; food deserts are bad. All these should be eradicated. All these should demand our vigilant attention and safety net resources.
Yet, wouldn’t we benefit from celebrating some of the characteristics that are present within poverty?: Agility, innovation, resilience, empathy, community, stamina, humility, connection with the land, creative play, thrift, values....and so much more. All these are things I have heard many parents say—would be helpful as their children face a consumption-driven, self-centered and entitled society.
Minnesota has spent decades trying to reduce poverty. It’s no wonder we spin our wheels. Let’s shift our thinking. It may spark some fresh input into a very old conversation.