By Ruth Limkin
I had dinner with friends this week.
It was a simple meal, yet I walked away feeling richly satiated. I was the first to leave, and the sounds of laughter lingered long with me as I drove home.
Perhaps it was the contrast of my day that helped me appreciate how rich my life was.
I had spent the day working with our charity, speaking with those we were fortunate enough to be helping. Such days remind me that issues of physical poverty are often intrinsically linked to poverty of relationship and community. Frequently, social marginalisation both causes, and perpetuates, disadvantage. Sadly, for many people, empty lives and empty wallets are lamentable companions.
A recent article in The Herald Sun suggests that no-one knows how to fix the issue of Australian poverty and disadvantage. The report surveyed Australians who were then broadly divided into those living on Easy Street and Struggle Street. It said, “….the strongest feeling among both groups is that no-one knows how to fix the problem (49 per cent of Struggle Street and 45 per cent of Easy Street). This might explain why overall and despite all the hardships people are facing, when asked how they feel only one in four says “angry”. Half say they are merely “frustrated”. Once you abandon hope that anyone can help, there is no point being angry. There are too many, more important battles our working families are facing.”
Issues of generational poverty are complex. While people often call on governments to solve these issues, and while there are important things that can be done at policy levels, programs and polices alone can’t fix this.
We can, and should, look at legislative and economic solutions, community programs and corporate partnerships, and all are valid. Most importantly, while there are no simple solutions, there are absolutely no answers in the absence of authentic relationships.
Poverty is alleviated by people who love their neighbour. This love can be expressed politically, financially, and strategically, but it must also, always, be expressed person to person.
Sitting and talking.
Building positive relationships.
There is no other way.
Owning the resources to provide a meal means we’re prosperous. However, it’s having people with whom to share that meal that makes us truly rich.