As Catholics and people of goodwill, our eyes are open. We strive to really see our brothers and sisters who are vulnerable. We constantly ask ourselves: “Is poverty acceptable?” And since the answer Jesus gave us is, “No”, we have to ask the next question: “What should we do about it?”
Poverty is a complex issue. Society has be trying to solve it for centuries! There are many factors at play, and it is incredibly difficult to untangle everything.
The people behind the statistics
The Catholic Campaign for Human Development (an office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops) reports that the national poverty rate is 13.1%. In West Virginia, that number is even higher. 17.9%! So that means that almost 18% of West Virginians are struggling with things like:
- not enough to eat
- inability to afford living expenses
- unstable housing
- lack of transportation
- difficulty working and/or learning
Because these statistics are not theoretical, it is so important to remind ourselves that there are actual faces attached to these vague numbers. During Poverty Awareness Month we need to remember that people are our greatest gifts and most valuable assets.
And of course we probably should take this idea a step further. Once we’re “aware” of poverty, we have to decide what to do about it.
Is there a “silver bullet”?
If you were in charge of lowering the poverty rate, what would you do? It’s an interesting thought experiment, and we’d love to get your opinion! Where should we start? Weigh in here: