BY MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN
God help us to end poverty in our time.
The poverty of having a child with too little to eat and no place to sleep, no air, sunlight and space to breathe, bask and grow.
The poverty of watching your child suffer hunger or get sicker and sicker and not knowing what to do or how to get help because you don’t have another dime or a car, money, or health insurance.
The poverty of working your fingers to the bone every day taking care of somebody else’s children and neglecting your own, and still not being able to pay your bills.
The poverty of having a job which does not let you afford a stable place to live and being terrified you’ll become homeless and lose your children to foster care.
The poverty of losing your job, running out of unemployment benefits, and no other help in sight.
The poverty of working all your life caring for your own children and having to start all over again caring for the grandchildren you love.
The poverty of earning a college degree, having children, opening a day care center, and taking home $300 a week – or a month – if you’re lucky.
The poverty of loneliness and isolation and alienation – having no one to call or visit, tell you where to get help, assist you in getting it, or care if you’re living or dead.
The poverty of having too much and sharing too little and having the burden of nothing to carry.
The poverty of convenient blindness and deafness and indifference to others.
The poverty of low aim and paltry purpose, of weak will and tiny vision, of big meetings and small actions, of loud talk and sullen grudging service.
The poverty of believing in nothing, standing for nothing, sharing nothing, sacrificing nothing, struggling with others for nothing.
The poverty of pride and ingratitude for God’s gifts of life and children and family and freedom and home and country and not wanting for others what you want for yourself.
The poverty of greed for more and more and more, ignoring, blaming, and exploiting the needy, and taking from the weak to please the strong.
The poverty of addiction to more and more things; drugs, drink, work, self, violence, power, fleeting fame, and an unjust status quo.
The poverty of fear which keeps you from doing the thing you think is right.
The poverty of convenient ignorance about the needs of those around you and of despair and cynicism.
God help us end poverty in our time, in all its faces and places, young and old, rural, urban, suburban and small town too, and in every color of humans You have made everywhere.
God help us to end poverty in our time in all its guises – inside and out – physical and spiritual, so that all our and Your children may live the lives that you intend.
Marian Wright Edelman is founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund based in Washington, D.C.