"Give Me Your Poor, Your Tired"

Lady Liberty once had that beautiful sentiment associated with her. America once was a place where people flocked to to escape religious persecution, to create a better life, to live freely. Now all of that is systematically being destroyed with a System run by people who have completely forgotten what love is and as a result, that has created a culture, through laws, policies and brow-beating messages at every corner the energy and actions of greed and resulting neglect, whereby as a nation we no longer embrace the suffering or the poor. Sure, we may welcome you in, but we'll essentially ignore you just as we do our own suffering and poor. While we may hand out government welfare checks and assistance, which only serve to keep people barely fed and barely housed (if you are lucky enough to move to the front of an enormously long line typically lasting for several years on the waiting list for housing vouchers, if not it's a shelter, again if you're lucky, or a cardboard box, under a bridge or park bench, although those are quickly becoming illegal places of residence in many cities), we give the real attention and welfare to big banks and corporations, who may find themselves in financial ruin only to have debts wiped free and clear while massive tax handouts (that would be the dollars from you and I) are deposited.

Whoever claims 'welfare is for the poor is big problem' needs to broaden their definition of "welfare". Welfare is government assistance. And Big Business receives billions each and every year in tax breaks and bail-outs, regardless if financial ruin is in the picture or not. And need I mention that government assistance for Big Business continues to see an increase ($$) while government assistance for the poor sees decreases each year.

That phrase, "Give Me Your Poor, Your Tired" has been on my mind and in my heart lately. My dad gives out cash for the holidays. It's a tradition with him. On his check this past holiday was a picture of Lady Liberty with that phrase. It bothered me. Bothered me deeply for this sentiment cannot be farther from the truth in terms of my father's value system. I was raised to believe the poor were a lazy rabble, unworthy, dirty. Deserving of everything they experienced and lived. And at the very least, if you were poor and American, something was seriously inept in your being.

Quite a horrific set of beliefs, isn't it? It took me living such a lifestyle to open my eyes and thus my mind and heart and realize to be "poor" hasn't a darn thing to do with worth, nor does it necessarily correlate with filth (those who don't care for themselves are unable to do so either because of lack of resources or apathy and depression which often goes along with living in poverty) or lack of motivation (see the preceding comment in parentheses).

Unexpected things happen that can land any one of us in such a situation--loss of job, illness, loss of insurance, war, natural disaster, or the most discouraging of all: the affordability factor--today's wages that don't come close to keeping up with the cost of living. The list is long. And it's the ultimate act of cruelty to point the finger of blame at someone facing such a situation. That has been a hard pill for me to swallow, but swallow I did.

We need one another, in good times and in bad. We have a responsibility for our own happiness and a responsibility to help those around us, the poor, the tired. It's not an individual road we walk. It's a collective one. That's what love is, in a nutshell.

No comments: