Mon • Dec 23rd, 2013 • by Tom Nees • Comments 6
I struck up a conversation with a Salvation Army Bell Ringer near the entrance of a local grocery store near Annapolis, Maryland. He was a part of a Kiwanis volunteer group, all of them local leaders taking 2-hour shifts to keep the bells ringing.
It’s one of the best things about Christmas. When shopping this time of year my wife I carry a little extra cash so we are prepared for the red kettles and the friendly greetings from Bell Ringers standing outside regardless of the weather.
The Bells and Kettles are a not so silent Christmas reminder of the hidden poverty that surrounds us year round.
That must be why they are unwelcome at most shopping malls. The entire economy is riding on frenzied around the clock spending. Some merchants would rather we not be reminded that some of our neighbors don’t have enough money for food, shelter and medical care, let alone gifts.
The first half of the book includes stories from The Voices of Poverty website.
The second half is handbook for change, ways to eradicate poverty, if, as he writes, we really cared.
The “scandal” of poverty, in Abramsky’s words, is that in the richest country in the world “we’ve come to accept very high levels of poverty as either inevitable or the way things should be – an untroubled acceptance of mass poverty.”
A recent New York Times report “In the war on poverty, a dogged adversary,” reminds us that fifty years after President Johnson’s War on Poverty, 16% or 50 million Americans are still poverty-stricken.
To a significant extent poverty is the result of an increasing number of low-paying jobs that don’t provide enough pay to lift workers above the poverty line without government help.
The Red Kettles are more than a fund-raising strategy for the Salvation Army.
In a fairly unobtrusive way the Bells and Kettles challenge our “untroubled acceptance of mass poverty.”
And the Kiwanis volunteers remind us of the responsibility leaders from every walk of life bear to end poverty, which after all was the vision of Mary’s song in Luke’s Christmas story –
“he has exalted those of low degree; he has filled the hungry with good things.”