"The poor you will have with you always."
With that admonition, Jesus called upon his disciples to focus. Now our attention goes back to the poor. The scenes from New Orleans demand us to see what we've largely ignored, imagining that the government programs have somehow taken care of "them."
But "they" let their voices be heard in soundbite after soundbite. And a few hours in front of the television screen underscored that something is definitely wrong with this country.
Former President Clinton called a Global Iniative meeting in New York this weekend to address worldwide poverty. While not on the guest list (I'm sure the invitation is somewhere in postal hell), I would love to hear what those gathered had to say. Because something's got to give.
And I really mean something and not someone . . . Someone has been giving and we've created quite a self-sustaining system. We give via taxes to programs we declared would be weapons in the war on poverty and those very weapons have turned on the poor, insuring that their only insurance of survival is staying within those programs.
We need some kind of centrifugal force to spin those trapped inside out. And perhaps its name was Katrina.
One newsmagazine said we have 37 million Americans living in poverty and then the next quote contradicted the number because experts have trouble defining "poverty". I don't know if I can define but I certainly can illustrate it. Those faces in New Orleans who have now made their way to Houston. Some of whom started immediately to find work. Some of whom are still on shelter cots waiting for the next meal to be served.
When systems are thrust into chaos, we're told that organisms will self-organize. That these times are where our greatest creativity lies. I pray that we take advantage of the chaos we currently find ourselves in. I pray that new systems will be explored. That handouts are replaced with hands outstretched to pull and be pulled from the poverty that clings to both body and soul.
I have no idea what my part in the system changing will be, but enough is enough. The time has come to focus.