Oct 15

Do We or Our Congresspeople Know the Face of Poverty?

This post is part of Blog Action Day.

You see them. They pass by you on the street. They are the ones sitting, waiting for a bus. They clean your tables and serve your breakfast tacos. Do you know them?

Do you know the man that makes minimum wage who cuts your sushi? He narrowly escaped the jungles and oppressive military regime of Burma to a refugee camp in Thailand. He barely speaks English because he had no idea if he was going to be here or in Norway or any other country that accepts refugees. Did you know he has two children he has to support and that he has no idea if his brothers and sisters survived a deadly cyclone? You see this man several times a week. You might even smile at him and ask him how his day was.

Do you know that man who sits on the corner and asks for change? He is a Viet Nam vet who was 19 when he left for war. He did not want to go but was pressured out of going to Canada. He watched the best friends that he depended on to survive get ambushed in plain site. He has nightmares, has severe stomach issues, and struggle as he may, he cannot hold a decent job. Do you realize he has spent the majority of his life as a scared, bitter person? You see this man, but do you know him?

Do you know the woman who was impregnated and dumped at 16, who struggles to make a life for herself and her child? “Daddy” wants no involvement and has enough troubles paying for himself, much less a child. One night of fun, years of being shunned for her irresponsibility.

Do you know the busboy who nearly died of thirst in the desert coming to America? Do you understand why he works so hard? He left because the leaders in his Mexican village didn’t like him, and wouldn’t give him a chance. He left so he didn’t have to pay the police for justice.

You see the 15% of Austin’s population that falls under the poverty level, but do you know anything about their lives and what they’ve faced? Do you actually understand how truly difficult it can be to escape poverty when you make a little less than half of the living wage?

Do you understand that outside this nation, children are dying of malaria and yellow fever because they can’t afford vaccines against simple mosquito bites? Do you know there are places in the world without clean water to drink, and that people are still getting typhoid?

When you complain about how high your taxes are, have you ever stopped to think that if your politicians just spent your money more efficiently, we would be able to help these people out so they could contribute more to our society and to our world?

If you think this post is relevant, blog about it or send it to your Congressperson. If you have an iPhone or Blackberry, check out Congress in your Pocket. Consider contributing some of your earnings on this day.