Friday, September 01, 2006

Poverty Soul Fusion

These are the people in your neighborhood! Mister Rogers with Owl and the Trolley, by Dana Ellyn (I'm not a big fan of the fire in the trolley. I love Mister Rogers. He's part of the fabric of my childhood.)

Affluence separates people. Poverty knits 'em together. You got some sugar and I don't; I borrow some of yours. Next month you might not have any flour; well, I'll give you some of mine. Ray Charles

I'm going to come clean and shock you all: I've never been poor. I've never been rich, either, but even by American standards, we do okay. So, of course, like every other white middle class churchgoer, I'm forced to think about poverty in terms of spiritual defficiency. Perhaps that's ok in this instance.

How many times have you found yourself sitting around a table with friends, a few drinks starting to roll around inside you, when someone says something to the effect of "I try not to, but I SNIFF GLUE!" Suddenly, all eyes go to that person and everyone can identify. (Of course, it isn't about the sniffing of the glue, it's about sharing something inside you that's embarrassing and potentially shameful.)

We bond with eachother over honest dialogue about our shortcomings. We bond over our poverty, not over our wealth. Have you ever had a conversation with a rich person who only wants to talk about money? I have. It stinks. I don't think it's because that person was any more greedy or pretentious or materialistic than I am. I think it's beacause really rich people have a hard time managing anything else. I almost feel sorry for them. (Notice I said "almost." I'm not that free of vice.) We gather all of our shiny toys around us as if to say "Hey! Come and play with me!" But what we end up doing is pushing others away. That's sad.


ersatz said...

And after noticing all that, I continue to want to be the boy with the shiny little toys. It's easier to prove yourself with the toys than with your problems. I guess different people have different ways. I know people who cicle themselves with shortcomings to brag about them.

susan said...

Isn't that just an indictment of the human condition? If we can't find anything to brag about, we'll just start bragging about the things of which we aren't proud. I think that's become the fashion for some "emergent-type" churches. I hope we grow out of it soon.


Rebekka said...

This isn't going to make sense to you...but I wish we could sit down with you and David for five minutes and talk about anything to redeem a recent agonizing experience that should have been nice.

susan said...

I'm having all kinds of thoughts about what could have happened. Did you get my e-mail?