The Catholic Church declares this month Poverty Awareness month: https://www.usccb.org/committees/catholic-campaign-human-development/poverty-awareness-month.
The call to all Catholics is for “solidarity with the poor.” It is an honorable goal. The site above has information and links to sites where you can take action.
A contrarian critical mood has gripped me regarding “solidarity with the poor.” We are the poor. No I am not saying I or you can claim abject poverty. The average American has about 8000 dollars cash available. Net worth medians vary by age from 13000 to roughly 200,000 dollars. By global standards this is not poverty.
Poverty awareness however is a difficult sell. That 8000 dollar savings account can be wiped out with one or two financial blows. The net worth median in real dollars keeps shrinking for most Americans.
Fear of economic failure is a realty for many Americans. It is not a comfortable subject. COVID 19 has wiped away a lot of wealth and moved many from green to red. The balance sheet of debt, the pending bills, and the employment outlook is not something our neighbors want to share with each other.
In that position, it is hard to answer the call for poverty awareness. The reality is, in my view, if one among us is living in unnecessary poverty, we are all poor. We must answer for our indifference to human suffering caused by poverty.
A good deal of Americans, however, have been reduced to worrying about their own survival in these harsh economic times. This threat has shaken Catholic Americans and narrowed our awareness and support of the broad Catholic Social teachings regarding the poor. Many have joined the ranks of the poor anonymously.
What to do? Whatever you can! Any act of kindness, small donation, or prayer will do. Whether you are rich or poor you are part of the solution to world poverty.
All is not gloom. If the world poverty clock is right, more people are exiting poverty than joining the ranks of the poor: https://worldpoverty.io/. That does not help the 20,000 who crossed over the poverty line today or the other 743,800,000 living in poverty.
This is not an existential threat. It is real and current. Raising awareness is simply not enough.
This Stanford review article entitled “Stop Raising Awareness Already” has some powerful points: https://ssir.org/articles/entry/stop_raising_awareness_already.
Raising awareness campaigns can fail to create any meaningful action or in some cases create backlash that can even make the problem identified worse.
Jesus Christ entire active ministry was about three years. He did not just raise awareness. He taught. He served. He followed a strategic plan to transform the world. He enlisted others. And finally, he made a grand sacrifice to redeem us all.
You know what is wrong today with humanity. Social media, news media, community issues, friends, family, and perhaps our own actions testify against us in real-time. You are aware. You also know what you have to do. It is radical.
This January, go beyond aware. Create a strategic plan and act today.