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Happy Blog Action Day ’08!

October 15, 2008

I’ve been having so much fun reading what all the new interns have to say on the blog that I’ve been forgetting to write posts, myself! But today I’m making it up to you by participating in Blog Action Day 2008! Today, thousands of bloggers from all over the world are uniting to write about one single issue- poverty.

One of my favorite professors at Earlham College once said that when looking at human dynamics people often have a tendency to relate more to the character in the dynamic with the most power. For instance, if you imagine a story where a millionaire meets a homeless person you’re more likely to imagine yourself as the millionaire. While things are not always that simple, I do think that his point illustrates how we do (or don’t) talk about poverty.

I have been thinking a lot about how this relates to the current financial crisis. Most of the news coverage of the crisis has focused on wall street executives. It seems like every day for the last month I have opened the front page of the paper to find pictures of despondent, angry or (very occasionally) elated businessmen in suits. I have yet to open the paper to a picture of a single mother attempting to buy groceries for her children. Of course, a lot of the attention that’s been paid to wall street executives has been negative, but I still think it’s troubling that they seem to have become the face of this crisis. As long as we’re focused on AIG’s luxury retreat (as angering as it might be), we’re not talking about how hard it will be for that mother to get groceries because the $700 billion bailout didn’t include increasing food stamps.

That’s one reason that I was grateful for Adam Taylor’s post on the Sojourners blog last week. Taylor talks about how the presidential campaigns’ discussion of the economy has focused on the ‘middle class.’ He says that while it’s important to remember how the crisis effects the middle class, we can not ignore the effect that this is taking on the poor, even if many of us may more easily relate to the middle class experience.

For the first time since this crisis started I finally heard the words that I’d been wanting to hear in church last week: “As we are faced with difficult decisions of what to cut in our family budgets, we need to remember that one thing that we can not cut is our obligation to the poor, who are being left with even fewer options.” As I’ve been struggling with how to work rising expenses into my budget, I’ve found that to be an important thing to reflect on.

As tempting as it may be to focus on the people who seem to be running the show, it is the people that have the least control of this situation who will be most affected by it. And those are really the people that I have the biggest obligation to.

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