Open Your Heart

 

Economic inequality is one of the major causes of poverty in the United States and in the world.  Many Americans grew up in a middle class family situation.  From about the end of World War II until the early 1970s there was substantial growth in the United States and it was broadly shared across income groups.  In the 1970s economic growth slowed for most income groups except the top percentage of US households.  Over the last 60 years the middle class has continued to shrink.  There are numerous causes for this inequality.  The end result of these shifting economic inequalities are that the poor, especially children being born and raised in poverty, are increasing in number and this raises serious concerns about justice, equity, human dignity and the common good.  As the U.S. Catholic bishops have said so often, excessive economic inequality is immoral. When more and more citizens of any nations are increasingly left out and feel they do not have the opportunities to participate in the economic life of a nation, then the life and vitality of that nation is diminished.

 

Pope Francis, a strong advocate for the poor, stated very clearly that “government and other organizations should work to create the social conditions that will promote and protect the rights of the poor and enable them to be the builders of their own future.”

The total number of children, who receive food stamps in the USA, in 2011, was approximately 21 million. In 2010 16.4 million children were poor in the United States and 7.4 million lived in extreme poverty according to the U.S. Census.  One in four infants, toddlers and preschoolers are poor during the years of greatest brain development.  What is the impact of these figures for future generations?

 

What can each of us do individually when we are confronted with these realities?  Of course prayer is an important beginning step.  We can be better informed by reading and making ourselves more familiar with legislation and policy proposals that would impact low-income families/individuals, become actively involved in one or more issues and lastly reach out to those living in poverty in our communities.

 

In the words of the prophet Isaiah, “if you open your heart to the hungry, and provide abundantly for those who are afflicted, your light will shine in the darkness…the foundations of generations past you will restore. You will be called Mender of Broken Walls, Restorer of Livable Streets.” Isaiah, 58: 10-12

                                                                                    Ann Kasparek