“Journal Notes” submitted by home groups from Study Two: What is the Bad News? Poverty and the Margins
submitted June 19:
We noted at the outset that this was the ‘Bad News’ Study.
Impressions, feelings and some memories of personal experiences were stirred up by the questions; some of which are listed below:
* Poverty = being poor for what seems like forever.
* People feel that God has forgotten them.
* Prices go up and wages don’t, so on the back foot. Feel trapped. Can’t see a way out which leads to a mental poverty.
* Someone remembers being told that ‘poverty has a smell to it’.
* Not just low income people asking for food parcels, but increasingly middle income earners as well.
* Basic wage extremely hard to live on.
* Young people seeking employment can be encouraged (by ‘the system’) to have unrealistic expectations jobs-wise – e.g. to study when they haven’t a hope of passing the exams. Left defeated, discouraged and burdened with student debt and still nothing to show for it.
* Impoverishing attitudes can lead to impoverished people. People who are impoverished emotionally are unable to take educational opportunities.
* Rather than wise budgeting, some people would sooner the ‘quick fix’ solution to monetary difficulties, or they make bad financial choices. They want gadgets and get into debt. This can be frustrating for relatives and / or people trying to help them. Hard not to be judgmental. Sometimes very hard on extended family seeing it happen.
* Constant grind when you have no money – no extras like movies, no money even for the bus …
* Is it a case of not judging and letting people have the choice to do what they want, despite knowing beforehand what is probably going to happen? Then being there to pick up the pieces? Can be frustrating and is it fair on family and other support systems?
* Broken families make up 70% of people considered poor – is this where we start to undo the damage, by somehow encouraging families to stay together?
* Women’s rights and equality – if this was better addressed would there be as much poverty?
* Women and children are being mis-treated (sex trade, prostitution etc) in New Zealand.
* Getting alongside (befriending) the poor when providing – don’t just stay in the soup kitchen, but get out and sit with them and talk to them.
* Think outside the box for helping people who are struggling financially. Don’t just give money they will spend on beer and cigarettes.
* Agree or disagree re quote that poverty is caused by sin? We agreed.
* There are people in Dunedin living on the streets.
* Global warming is caused by non-poor mis-using resources and individualistic consumerism.
We did feel a little depressed at the state of the world and our country (our city) with so many people suffering from poverty.
submitted May 30:
Poverty in Dunedin? In NZ? For sure.
Poverty can stem from a progression of misery – like a vicious circle that leads to a situation where the costs of essential living needs can no longer be met. Examples: Christchurch earthquake victims now living in poverty; consequences of marriage breakdown (needing to work longer hours to make ends meet, but not possible due to the requirements for child minding, etc).
Poverty can be self-induced; it is for obvious reasons that Presbyterian support may offer budgeting advise.
Poverty is not necessarily obvious – personal presentation may reflect personal choice, not necessarily personal riches or worth
Is ‘poverty by choice for a fixed duration’ still poverty? Student debt and hardship is often a sacrifice for future life – and a hardship with often a fixed, clearly-defined end point.
Poverty comes with a lack of choice – perhaps that it what the non-poor do not understand
Discussing poverty – sobering.
Not all who are rich got there at the expense of others – often, working hard is at the basis of monetary success
Discussions about poverty and sin may arrive at the American prosperity doctrine.
submitted May 21:
Statement on a statue of Benjamin D. Franklin: “I see a third of a nation ill housed, ill clad, ill nourished. The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much. It is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Agreement that poverty generally arises from a variety of issues.
Poverty of spirit affects practical outcomes. People’s backgrounds has strong influence.
Poverty not necessarily caused by sin-didn’t delve far into original sin concept.
No one thought that we are absolved from responsibility to the margins.