Friday, March 15, 2013

I have nothing...?

"Mommmm, I have nothing to wear!"

What's that, nothing to wear?  Is that why your dresser drawers are all stuffed, I can barely wade across the sea of ... (clothes?) on your bedroom floor, not to mention the piles you have left in every other room of the house, but for some strange reason your hamper is practically empty? Yes, that must mean... you have nothing to wear.

"But Mom! I have to have more than one pair of new sneakers.  If I only have one pair of sneakers, the other kids will say we are poor." 

Let me tell you about poor, honey.

The data presented here are from the Current Population Survey (CPS), 2012 Annual Social and Economic Supplement (ASEC), the source of official poverty estimates. The CPS ASEC is a sample survey of approximately 100,000 household nationwide. These data reflect conditions in calendar year 2011.
  • In 2011, the official poverty rate was 15.0 percent. There were 46.2 million people in poverty.
  • The poverty rate in 2011 for children under age 18 was 21.9 per-cent.

"Mom, I need money for an extra snack... even though I get lunch and I already bring snacks... but eveyone else likes this new expensive sugary snack... so I can't be the only one who doesn't buy it, or they'll say I'm poor."

Really?  Do you really want to know what poor is?  Because we are among the top 10% most fortunate people in the world, no matter how poor you might feel at any given time.  If you  have a roof over your head, clothes on your back and food in your belly, then you are fortunate.  Oh, and by the way, there's poor, and there's hungry, and we are neither, thank God.

According to Wikipedia,  "some 18,000 children die every day because of hunger and malnutrition and 850 million people go to bed every night with empty stomachs."

Plenty of those hungry children and adults are living right here amongst us in our own neighborhoods.  These kids are having lunch with our sons and daughters in the cafeteria every day.  Why should they have to worry about other kids calling them poor?  If our own children are treating each other this way we should be disgusted and ashamed of ourselves. Think about the Whitney Houston song, "The Greatest Love of All.":

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be

Everybody's searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me

I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all

I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be


And if, by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love

I find those words to be just as inspirational now as they were when Whitney first sang them.

We see ads for children in third-world countries and feel terrible about them.  Most people feel far removed from the situation. But there are those who do want to do something to help.  Sometimes people forget that hunger is not just a global problem, it is right here in our backyard.  Our next-door neighbors are struggling with it.  One out of six elementary school children will have to deal with it.  It is a family issue, one that is complex and complicated by the economy, unemployment rates and politics. 

There is no one solution, but many ways to lend a helping hand.  Most communities have a local food pantry (or church that is connected to one) that will accept donations of non-perishable food, toiletries or grocery store gift cards.  If you see a food drive being held outside your local supermarket please be kind enough to drop something in.  There are usually things on sale in your market for under a dollar that you can donate, and you never know when your own family could be in a position of need. You may also choose to donate to global or national organizations like Unicef, World Vision, Child Fund International (formerly Christian Childrens Fund) or The Salvation Army. And when you see someone that you know is struggling, treat them with kindness and compassion.  Don't look away, and above all don't judge them or or treat them with cruelty. 

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged. (Matthew 7:1)

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