In response to recent articles I've read regarding the "rich" needing to pay their fair share, I don't count on the rich or upper 1% to make a difference in the US, and I certainly do not look to the wealthy to make a difference in my life personally. If you have to count on lots money to live happy, good luck!
When I reflect back on the happiest times in my life they were in the midst of the most difficult times. Times when I had difficulty getting by on a daily basis. I remember my daughter and I digging through furniture cushions looking for loose change so we could walk down to the local Dairy Queen for an ice cream. We made Halloween costumes out of cardboard boxes for three years, we call those "the box years", and we did a lot of walking. A lot. This was because I worked several jobs and went to college all while not owning a vehicle. We made up sidewalk games to occupy our time walking. She still remembers those times and together we treasure the memories. I didn't look to the wealthy to change or improve my life.
The rich did not make a difference in lives when my parents lived through the depression, the rich did not make a difference in our lives when my parents raised eight children, the rich did not make a difference when I raised my daughter as a single mom. I do not depend on the rich or "upper 1%" to do anything for me. Never will.
I read an article recently posted by Bill and Melinda Gates and some of the work being done through their foundation in third world countries. Hopefully you know about the wonderful things they are doing with their fortune. This work is their passion and it is a wonderful thing. One of the comments to the article was from a (PhD) reader who didn't like that the "rich" ie Gates Foundation, is not focusing it's billions on helping people in the US. Hmm? I am curious about this kind of thinking. I don't subscribe to it and here is why.
I believe each of us needs to look within and make changes to how we live among and with our neighbors. And how we view our brothers and sisters on the planet. And how we are helping change others lives and making this country (and hopefully the world) a better place. But lets start out small, one step at a time.
In order to truly belong to a community I must be involved in that community. I must know my neighbor, the small business owners, the young families who are raising children, the elderly and their needs and yes, I need to also be connected to the poor.
I am a wounded healer. In other words, I have been wounded and can sit with those who have the same wounds I have and hear what they have to say. I can meet them in their pain (without fixing it) and listen with the compassion and knowledge of their position.
To the single parent, I can hear your story and understand your financial difficulties and the judgement society places on you because I've been there. I don't need to have my past erased, in fact I can embrace those experiences now and accept that they are gift.
To the woman who struggles to make ends meet, who was left by a spouse, who was abused or who has had many failed relationships; I've been there and I can meet you where you are at in your pain and allow you to feel it as you work toward healing. Like the crippled man who laid by the healing pool waiting for someone to help him in, it's my turn now to help others into that pool of healing. Your pain is shared by another who knows what your journey is like. The rich are not going to be present to you.
I must be healing the difficulties I have with my immediate family members in order to be present to another and to be an effective member of my community.
Do you know anyone who has a messed up life, marriage, family relationships etc.. but has his or her nose in other peoples business? The great judges of our society; ready to point their finger at those who are not living the way they think they "should" be living. I used to be one of these. Step one, admitting is 99% the cure. The rich cannot admit for you.
2.I can effect the most change politically through my local vote and local community involvement. I need to read and know the issues in my community. I need to listen to my neighbors, open my eyes to areas beyond my safety zone.
I need to enter into the areas of my community that are ignored. You know, those parts of town that people talk about but don't want anything to do with. I need to get to know more about all races and religions in my community in order to serve and to understand. I need to learn much more about races other than my own.The rich cannot do this for me.
I do not know what it is like to live as an African American, as a Native American, as an Asian or Mexican American. I do not know the fear of the Muslim person who lives here seeking peace and a safe place to live raise a family. Therefore, I must learn more about these brothers and sisters of mine and try my best to understand their lives, their culture, belief systems, and fears that they live with each day. I do not and will not ever know the fear inside someone of a different race, but I can try my best to listen and to learn. To turn away is being racist. To ignore anyone of a different race than myself is racist, and I have been racist in these ways. (This is so hard for me to admit)
I also do not know the extreme, generational poverty of other races and that is no excuse for me to not learn and do what I can to effect change. The rich will never do that for me, or you. We can do this for each other.
3.I cannot walk in the shoes of my brothers and sisters who have a sexuality different from my own. I can, however, love them.
Money will not fix the extreme prejudice against the LBGTQ community. Love will. Fear feeds on ignorance of a truth. And the truth is all humanity is created equal and is equally loved in the sight of God. I know not all believe in God, and in part that is probably due to the fact that many have not experienced God's love. In my belief, God's love comes from the believers created by her/him. (Yeah, God does not have a gender so I put that in, take it any way you wish) So, if these believers, self included, know that it is love we are called to show, to share and to not hold back, why then are we at war with ourselves in so many ways? Why have we not shown God's love? God does not hate homosexuality, God hates ignorance and the fool who perpetuates a hate message in the name of God. The Rich cannot change this, but you and I can.
My riches are my health, my family and the wonderful, messy way in which I grew up. My riches are my sense of humor, love for people, hope for the poor and passion for healing. My riches will be in a trust fund that lives through the veins of my daughter and step children, and grandchildren. The rich did not give me this..