Last week we learned that, while a lot of people fall below the poverty line, that situation is often temporary. Also, while the poor don’t earn much by US standards, it’s still over $10,000 a year—plus government and other benefits. What does that buy you? Today I want to address what life under the poverty line is like.
Granted, it’s not fun being poor. Having fewer resources means you have fewer options—and the answer too often is “no.” Opportunities may be limited. Sometimes, things cost more for those who can least afford it—prices at stores in poor neighborhoods tend to be higher than in middle class areas, and you can’t afford to take advantage of items on sale or discounted in bulk. Add to that frustration—being poor typically correlates with reduced influence, both socially and politically. I’ve always imagined desperate families in cars, skinny, hungry children in ragged clothing, and crime-ridden neighborhoods.
Social justice. Healthy lifestyles. Environmental stewardship. Sometimes it’s awfully hard to pull it all together….
My phone alarm chirps, waking me from dreams of tropical beaches complete with coconut palms, perfect waves, and a bathing suit figure. It’s morning, six o’clock. Time to get out of bed and start another day of responsible living.
I reach over to turn off the electric blanket. Yes, it’s electric. Is that environmentally correct? It uses electricity, and we’re trying to conserve. Yet, we’re able to keep the house cooler, turning the heat off at night even in the middle of winter. Surely that saves more energy than my blanket uses.
Dragging myself out of bed, I stumble towards the shower. The water feels wonderful, but I don’t want to take too long—that hot water is a precious, limited resource. I reach for the soap and shampoo. Wait—were they tested on animals? I’d better read the label. Should I use a disposable razor? All that plastic will end up in the landfill. Maybe I should just opt for hairy legs.