Earlier this week, I watched an interview with a retired professional basketball player. He discussed many things, but the thing that stood out to me was the story of his childhood and of his intended legacy. He was raised in a poverty situation by his mother and grandmother. The was no mention of positive males in his life other than the coaches he would later meet as he would grow to become a tall and talented young man. He and his family lived in what he referred to as “the projects.” Which as we know is often the term for subsidized housing units crowded together into communities. As I said, it was his story AND his intended legacy that I found interesting. He spoke of what he could to do help his fellow man. This individual happens to be black, and he indicated an interest in helping anyone who is poor, but even more so helping individuals of color who live in poverty. He expressed how important it is to him to help others out of poverty and made comment that helping people out of poverty helps to restore their personal power.
Power and Poverty Relationships?
That is an interesting thought, I found myself pondering it a bit. Do people who live in poverty feel they have personal power? Well, I would assume the politically correct thing to say is “yes.” But I do not know that to be true. I have certainly been poor, or sure felt like I was. But I have never lived in urban poverty, in housing project poverty, and I have never been alone with no additional resources outside of myself. So, I honestly don’t know how powerless those individuals feel. But I have a feeling the basketball player knows more about it than I do, you know since he lived that life. I once stood in a housing project outside of Cincinnati, Ohio and did a 360–looking all around me. All I could see from any direction was the housing project. It was so large there was a store and a doctor’s office on the grounds. I do not know what that level of poverty feels like, and I have no idea how powerless I might feel to try to get out of that situation. I do know that I have watched countless people try to rise above where they are in life only to fall back down. It does indeed seem to be much more difficult to move upwards without someone there to help support and encourage you. The reality is many of us are only one rent payment away from homelessness.
So, what Cindy? What in the world is your point with this post? Well, I guess I had a couple of thoughts. One, just to create an awareness that maybe rising out of poverty is not as simple as people think it is. This really is not one of those “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” concepts. You know where we all realize everyone could do it if only, they were more determined. Not the case here folks. Imagine how difficult it is to keep a job with a car that you can’t keep running. Buy a better car? Great idea, but I don’t have the money. Save it up? Again, great idea, but I live less than paycheck to paycheck. I could get more money by working more, but who would watch my kids? Wait, my office just closed, need a new job. They moved the office across town and I simply can’t get there. It really is like a house of cards, one card falls, and you have a heaping pile of fallen cards.
So, What Can I Do?
So, back to my point. Why am I sharing this? Well, it was the rest of the interview–the what is your intended legacy. How can we make a difference in the lives of our fellow man? Give the man on the corner money? Maybe, although most agencies that serve the impoverished and addiction communities are actually discouraging those acts due to addictions. Send a check to my church to help the community? Volunteer at a food kitchen? Help build a house through Habitat for Humanity? Watch a single mom’s child so she can work? Send an encouraging note? Pack a lunch for a child who might need it? Buy a lunch for the fast food worker and tell them “Thank You.” The list goes on and on and on. Each of us have different abilities, skills, opportunities, and resources. But I would argue that each of us need to do SOMETHING. For you see, that bootstrap image, do you know how much easier it is to pull those proverbial bootstraps on when someone helps? If each of us could help someone imagine the difference, we could make. I am so very thankful for the difference makers in my life, I am thankful for all of them, but I am especially thankful for those who carried me through life when I simply could not walk on my own. Here’s to all the difference makers–go be one. Be blessed my friends, thank you for spending part of your day with me.