When asked the question, “What is poverty?” the average, ‘non-poor’ North American tends to emphasize a lack of material things, such as food, money, clean water, medicine, housing, etc. But if you ask people who actually experience material poverty, “they by and large describe their condition in psychological and social terms. While they recognize their material lack, they talk more about things like shame, inferiority, powerlessness, humiliation, fear, hopelessness, depression, social isolation, and voicelessness.” 1Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … And Yourself, [Moody Publishers, 2009] p. 53
All of these words describing poverty are about dignity, power and powerlessness, desperation because you have no say over your circumstances. These words speak of a much more relational basis for poverty.
And this changes everything. If poverty is about more than material circumstances, then our proposed solutions must be more than just more food or money or material things.
Footnotes [ + ]
|1.||⇧||Steve Corbett & Brian Fikkert, When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor … And Yourself, [Moody Publishers, 2009] p. 53|