Agree or Disagree: It's time for us to have a discussion about poverty

Well it's a historic moment in History... Let's not carried away, but it is the first time we have had a guest post!

You might remember earlier in the week, I wrote a story for the Calgary Beacon about a dance performance called Something to Say happening from April 4-7 at the Vertigo Theatre. You can read this story HERE.

The producer and the director of the show is Connie Jakab. She has her own blog called the Culture Rebel.

The interesting thing about poverty is it's a very uncomfortable topic at times.It's simple enough, there is us who has stuff and status and those who don't. You can go downtown anywhere too see that.

I was shocked to learn that Calgary has the highest debt rate in Canada. If there is a city that has a need to have a conversation about poverty.

Connie has been very open on her blog about her struggle with stuff. So I asked her to write a post about this from her perspective. Hopefully this will give you something to think about going forward and talk about.

Here it is...

Does this ever reflect my life up till now. I’ve become frustrated with it. As of late, I have come undone with myself. You see, I have a love-hate relationship with mascara… and hats… and coats…. and scarves. Maybe add a little love for earrings in there too. And only if you consider - 5 pairs of Adidas, 4 pairs of boots (don’t be silly, that of course doesn’t include my winter ones), 8 pairs of heels, and an unmentionable amount of sandals of all colors and sizes - a shoe obsession, then I guess you could call me that.

I’m sick of it. Where has all this excess got me? Full of myself and debt.

I don’t know how it happened really - me coming to a place of disgust with my consumption - but I’m glad it happened. All of a sudden I was hungry to learn what it meant to really lack. What is poverty? While most of the world has been living on $2 a day, I’ve been sitting around thinking about the fact I don’t have an iPhone. In my own city, people making minimum wage can’t afford to eat or have a home. I wanted to know what reality was beyond my world of bling.

I started to seek out organizations working in areas of poverty. I was blown away by the poverty some live. But I was mostly blown away by the revealing of my own poverty: the poverty of the soul. While, yes, I eat well, have a home and things, I’ve discovered my poverty is the worst of all.

The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied... but written off as trash. The twentieth-century consumer economy has produced the first culture for which a beggar is a reminder of nothing. - John Berger

John Berger just nailed my poverty strait in the nose: I’m not a victim of natural scarcity, but a scarcity I’ve bought into by believing that the next outfit, a night out, more bling, more stuff will somehow help me “arrive” to a place of happiness and status. Scarcity that makes me think that there’s not enough for everyone so I better fight for what deservingly is mine. This poverty of soul creates in me a god…. a god of self. And when I’ve fully engaged in my new god, I can’t see a world in need, because I’ve been blinded by my own desires. The beggar on the street is only an eye-sore to me now, an inconvenience, a problem the city should deal with. He doesn’t remind me of my own poverty because I don’t see it.

Consumerism and the fight for status are igniting a poverty of the soul. It’s time to see poverty as something personal. It’s time for me to engage in the needs of my city; to make it the community my kids and neighbors can thrive in.

It’s time for me to rebel against the consumer society that blinds me to the beggar who can open my eyes to reality.