I saw in the local paper the other day that the county housing coalition had completed a study that showed that mental illness and substance abuse were the most common causes of poverty.
Anyone who has felt poverty or known those who are poor knows that poverty is incredibly stressful. The justice system and the economic system are stacked against you. You suffer stresses that the comfortable, apparently, cannot imagine. It is hard on marriages, hard on families, hard on mental health. Turning for solace in alcohol or painkillers is a natural reaction to hopelessness. Anxiety quickly morphs into psychological trouble.
And for this the poor are scorned and punished.
Unlike the affluent, who are hardly free of mental illness and addiction, there are no resources, no buffer, for society’s castoffs, who are blamed for their pain. I have seen too many pronouncements blaming the poor for their problems. If ‘they’ would just form stable marriages, work harder, stay straight, then they would join the successful.
By chance the gospel today in the Byzantine calendar is the story of the pharisee and the publican, a tale that reveals the sin of smugness, the lack of empathy and solidarity with those seen as beneath us.
To scorn the poor is to scorn Christ.
Even the Republicans
But at least there appears to be an emerging consensus that the growing gap between the modern aristocracy and the rest of us is not desirable. When even the Republicans begin to speak of it as an evil you know there is a problem.
I doubt the proposed solutions will address the root of the evil, which is the capitalist system, based on the economics of the anti-gospel of greed, self-interest and love of money, but any move toward justice and the reexamination of the failed market economics of the neoconservatives and neoliberals is welcome.
Difficult and Spare
Writing has been difficult, as life has been difficult. I got back on the overtime list on the first of January, goaded by necessity, so my ‘spare’ time has been diminished.
And lately life has been relentless.
Words here may be sparse for a while.
Landscape by Anne Freeman