Archive for the ‘poverty’ tag
by Jim Wallis
Many people in America are poor, due to no fault of their own—and their numbers are growing.
If you really know any poor people, you know that to be true. If you don’t, the first sentence of this post runs against the grain of many cultural assumptions in America that tend to blame people for being poor.
On the eve of the first Presidential debate, Sojourners premiered The Line — a film about the new faces of poverty in America. In this powerful documentary from award-winning filmmaker Linda Midgett, those popular judgmental assumptions against poor people clearly and convincingly are debunked.
The Line, which I am asking everyone who reads this column to watch, deftly dismantles many stereotypes about poverty and shows why a growing number of Americans find themselves falling into it. The film does so by telling the personal stories of people who have fallen beneath “the line.”
My 14-year-old son Luke, watched the story of John: a banker who once made a six-figure salary, but who now finds himself a substitute teacher making $12,000 a year while trying to raise his three kids. John painfully talked about what it feels like to have to go to a food bank because he has no other viable choice.
His story caused Luke to ask his mom after the film, “John said he got straight A’s in school, so could that happen to me?”
by Nina Pine and Rachel Finn, Faiths Act Fellows for the Tony Blair Faith Foundation
While the two of us have been planning the San Francisco CROP Hunger Walk as our World Malaria Day Event, often we are asked the question, “Why are you supporting malaria prevention efforts at a hunger walk? Isn’t that a conflict of interest?”
The fact of the matter is, however, that malaria and hunger are incredibly intertwined. Just check out this video [http://www.youtube.com/watch?
Delivering food to a community in need is a noble act. It is a life-saving act. And yet unfortunately, it is not a sustainable act. Extreme hunger worldwide is not caused by a lack of food, but rather, systemic social corruption and flawed distribution. To change the narrative on hunger, we must change the systems of power and the societal structures in which communities live. To do so is a daunting task, and incredibly complex.
Yet, one effective step we can tangibly make is on the issue of malaria. Malaria is a disease of poverty – it has been eradicated in parts of the world with access to needed finances, such as here in California. Malaria is both treatable and preventable. And yet, a child still dies every 60 seconds from this deadly disease. It is less a problem of complexity than a lack of resources.
Malaria prevention, elimination, and hopefully one day, eradication, are excellent goals in and of themselves. And yet, the ripple effect from treating it has far larger reaches. It improves education, because children do not miss days of school due to severe illness. It improves maternal health by significantly decreasing the number of deaths in pregnant women. Perhaps most importantly, malaria elimination would drastically improve the situation of extreme hunger around the globe. Individuals will not have to miss days of harvesting crops due to illness. Families will not have to decide whether to spend their money on medicine for a sick child, or food for the rest. Men, women, and children will have the strength they need to fight against the societal blockades keeping them impoverished.
We hope you’ll support us this World Malaria Day in taking a holistic approach to tackling extreme poverty, by recognizing the interconnectedness of problems around the world. Please visit cropwalksf.org to learn more about our Walk and how to be a supporter.
Will you walk with us?
by Katherine Marshall
from Huffington Post
Marley’s ghost, in Charles Dickens’ great moral parable, The Christmas Carol, reflected in anguish on what, beyond the grave, he finally understood to have been his core moral obligation in life: “Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence, were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!”
“Bah, humbug”, responded Ebenezer Scrooge, Marley’s partner in life. So Marley pursued his plan to awaken Scrooge to the realities of need and to tug on his deeply latent conscience. Finally when one of the three Spirits who visits Scrooge by night confronts him with two pathetic children, a vestige of moral sense begins to stir. Asked whose they are, the Spirit answers that they are Man’s. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”
Just as Marley and his Spirits exhorted Scrooge to confront the realities of poverty and his responsibility to help, we also are confronted during this end of the year holiday season with appeals to our conscience. They come, thick and fast, framed as frantic pleas for help or as generous offers or gentle reminders to contribute to a cause. Each day the mail, phone, and email deliver an extraordinary range of requests to support causes that respond to the urgent needs of our community. The urgent tone of the appeals seem all the more poignant at this time when the “Bah, humbug” Scrooge-style response seems to need seems to have gripped America’s public debate.
The tugs of conscience and appeals for charitable donations call to mind moral values deeply rooted in spiritual teachings. Perhaps the strongest common ground that links the world’s great faith traditions is the call to compassion, to fight precisely Dickens’ ghostly images of ignorance and want. Charitable giving has deep spiritual roots in history. Even in today’s far more pluralistic and secular world, the appeal to spiritual values evokes both the nobility of mankind’s capacity to care and the shame of turning one’s back to those in need. Even the very wealthy, who give less to explicitly religious causes, see religion as key to transmitting their own commitment to charity to their offspring.
What does lead people to give to charity? And what evokes responsibility and caring as Americans look to the nation’s responsibilities towards the world? As always in such matters, the answers are complicated and there is much we do not really understand. But a recent public opinion survey offers evidence of how far values linked to religious teachings do color attitudes towards the broadest policy issues. And it also offers encouraging signs that the appeals to conscience resonate with most Americans. That people respond to an appeal to their better nature echoes long-standing evidence that charitable giving is highest among those who count themselves as believers. What is of particular interest here, however, is the degree to which religious and spiritual values color attitudes to issues that tend to be debated in more technocratic terms.
This program airs throughout December and will be online after Dec 18.
FINDING COMMON GROUND: TODAY’S INTERFAITH MOVEMENT looks at how the interfaith movement has evolved over the years.
The program visits with Rev. Dirk Ficca, Executive Director of the Chicago-based Council for a Parliament of the World’s Religions. The Parliament hosts the world’s largest interreligious gathering, meeting every five years in a different part of the world. People of every faith are invited to share their religious identities, dialogue and voice their hopes and concerns for the future.
One of the most interesting things about the modern interfaith movement, according to Rev. Ficca, is that cooperation among people of different faiths is more mainstream than ever. He says, “For me, it’s when a local imam and rabbi and Catholic priest in Downers Grove meet every Thursday for lunch and talk about how to get their three communities to know each other, and somehow replicating that all over the United States, all over the world. That’s where I put my hope.”
We also hear from Dr. Eboo Patel, founder and president of the Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) based in Chicago, Ill. This nonprofit organization was founded in 2002, based on the idea that the most powerful common ground between all faith traditions is the inspiration to serve others. Dr. Patel and his organization are working with the youth of today as a means to thwart religious extremism and encourage interfaith understanding and leadership. “I think the world looks different,” Dr. Patel says, “if America’s college campuses become models of interfaith cooperation and graduate a critical mass of interfaith leaders.”
When the White House announced the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge in March of this year, IFYC worked as an advisor and partnered to craft the nationwide program.
One of the schools participating in the President’s challenge is Albright College, a private liberal arts school in Reading, Penn. Rev. Paul Clark, the school’s chaplain, will be shepherding the project with a group of interfaith student leaders. He says, “If we can apply this kind of model of talking to one another, and then reaching out to the larger community, then something really important could happen here.”
Recently, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Reading, Penn. has the largest share of residents living in poverty per capita. In an effort to help the marginalized, the religious community of Reading has come together and worked in partnership to help alleviate the symptoms of poverty. We hear from Rabbi Brian I. Michelson, Rabbi of Reform Congregation Oheb Sholom; Elsayed [Steve] Elmarzouky, President of the Islamic Center of Reading, and Michael J. Kaucher, Executive Director of the Reading Berks Conference of Churches, about how working together to serve their community has reinforced their belief in the need for interreligious dialogue and cooperation at the local level.
John P. Blessington is the executive producer and Liz Kineke is the producer. FINDING COMMON GROUND is produced in cooperation with the National Council of Churches, Consortium of Roman Catholic organizations, the Islamic Society of North America, the Union of Reform Judaism and the New York Board of Rabbis.
|Wednesday, December 14, 2011
10:00am U.S. Central Time
This webinar will address spiritual and practical imperatives that emerge from the intersections of religion and development. We now approach the culmination of the Millennium Development Goal challenge set in the year 2000. What are the successes, flops, and challenges we must face to create greater equity in our communities and around the world?
Katherine Marshall is a Senior Fellow at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs and Visiting Professor in the School of Foreign Service. She leads the Berkley Center’s work on faith-inspired institutions working in development, that has involved both a regional “mapping” and explorations of priority development topics, around the basic questions: what can we learn from faith inspired work and why is it important for global development efforts? She is Executive Director of the World Faiths Development Dialogue.
Title: Ending Poverty: Practical Steps for Those Inspired by Their Faith
Date: Wednesday, December 14, 2011
Time: 10:00 AM – 11:00 AM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
Required: Windows® 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Required: Mac OS® X 10.4.11 (Tiger®) or newer
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
by Oralander Brand-Williams
From The Detroit News
African-American and Jewish community leaders from around the country are expected to wrap up today a conference in Detroit about poverty.
The Mission to Detroit conference, sponsored by the Jewish Council for Public Affairs, brought together activists from both groups to explore ways to battle poverty in their cities.
The year’s conference participants came from around the country, including Nashville, Tenn.; Jacksonville, Fla.; and Providence, R.I.
Jim Vincent, the president of the NAACP branch in Providence, came to Detroit along with Marty Cooper, community relations director for the Community Relations Council of the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, and Scott Libman, a board member of the Jewish Alliance.
The three men spent a part of Wednesday afternoon weeding an urban garden at the Romanowski Park on Lonyo Street near Livernois. The three said they are taking note of Detroit residents’ use of blighted lots for growing food.
Rhode Island has a 10.9 percent jobless rate, one of the highest in the country.
“Urban gardening is great because it’s about people coming together around a positive issue like food,” Vincent said.
Libman said the conference has given community leaders a chance to look at what they can do to help their cities…
by Ruth Messinger
from the Huffington Post
Last spring, my organization, American Jewish World Service (AJWS), asked its supporters to set an empty place at their Shabbat tables. This was a gesture to show solidarity with the hundreds of millions of people who go to bed hungry every night.
As I prepare for Passover, this year, I’ve decided to incorporate the empty place at my table as a new Seder ritual. This empty place will stand for all those around the world who still lack the basic freedoms that our Seders celebrate. I want my guests to understand that none of us will be truly free until marginalized people everywhere can realize their human rights — access to food and water, gender equality and freedom from violence, government accountability and transparency, access to education and health care, and the list goes on. So, before we begin to sip our first cup of wine, I and my guests will be reciting the lines below.
As we enjoy bountiful food and drink this night and remember our starvation in Egypt … We commit to support those who struggle today with the horrors of hunger.
Among those I’ll be symbolically inviting to join my Seder are the hungry. The Hagaddah itself invokes, “All who are hungry, let them come and eat.” This is more important today than ever, as more than a billion people globally are now living on less than a dollar a day. It is common for people in the Global South to spend 75 percent of their income on food, yet food prices have skyrocketed recently. And in Washington, politics have trumped compassion. Our government is putting the final touches on a federal budget that cuts by 11 percent food aid that is designed to help those who are starving.
By setting an empty place in solidarity with the hungry, I commit myself to promoting food justice by protesting cuts to humanitarian aid, and by supporting communities’ work to grow food.
From The Huffington Post
A Census Bureau report released recently released found the percentage of Americans now living in poverty rose to 14.3 percent in 2009, the highest in decades.
For many of us, this was a huge shock. News like this sends a shudder through our collective spine. And for every family that finds itself now living in poverty, it isn’t a headline at all; it is a personal tragedy.
But as we come to grips with this most recent statistic, we have a dual set of challenges. On one hand, we need to do all in our power to help those struggling here at home. But we also have the challenge of viewing poverty with “global bifocals.” With one portion of the lens we see and attack needs close to home. With the other portion of the lens we focus on the realities of global poverty that may seem far away.
From Florida Today
For two years the Brevard Interfaith Coalition, initiated by Catholic Charities of Central Florida, has helped struggling families and their children during these tough economic times.
Sunday, they took a break from helping the less fortunate to gather and celebrate the work of the last two years by presenting their second annual “FestivALL of Faith” at the Melbourne Auditorium. Government, private non-profit and faith-based organizations sat side by side at information tables answering questions and handing out pamphlets while a band played on stage and folks ate cooked food and baked goodies.
The agencies represented a wide band of social services including child protection, adoption, abuse prevention, drug and alcohol counseling, health care and housing.
“Our goal is to strengthen families and their children, where families are struggling so children don’t get removed to foster care,” said Beverly Lampley, regional director of Catholic Charities of Central Florida.
The coalition was created at the request of area social service agencies and Brevard County to find ways to close the gap in services for families in crisis, look for alternative methods to stem the economic crisis and relieve the burden on government agencies by tapping into the large faith-based volunteer network.
World Religions Get Down to Earth
by Trebbe Johnson
“Sensually, it was a panoply of colorful raiment, ceremonies, liturgies, and languages from around the world. Spiritually, the 2009 Parliament of the World’s Religions, held December 3-9 in Melbourne, Australia, had the feeling of a quest, or rather thousands of individual quests pursued by people who came together not just to espouse their own beliefs but to explore together how to solve some of the world’s most grievous problems. “Making a World of Difference: Hearing Each Other, Healing the Earth” was the theme of this gathering held in the soaring, light-filled Melbourne Convention Center on the bank of the Yarra River, int he ancestral homeland of the aboriginal Wurundjeri people. For a week, six thousand participants from eighty countries, representing religious and spiritual traditions old and new, shared one another’s worship services; attended 662 talks, panel discussions, and films; and exchanged ideas, prayers, and email addresses.
The first Parliament of World Religions took place in Chicago in 1893, the second not until one hundred years later, again in the Windy City. Cape Town, Barcelona, and now Melbourne have hosted subsequent gatherings. Since the beginning, the concept of what the parliament has to offer, and to whom, has changed radically.”
Trebbe Johnson is the founder and director of Radical Joy for Hard Times, a non-profit organization devoted to finding and making beauty in wounded places. She writes frequently on the relationship of myth, nature, and spirit and is the author of The World Is a Waiting Lover: Desire and the Quest for the Beloved. She lives in rural Pennsylvania.