What follows is a letter my wife and I sent to our local newspapers. Feel free to use the letter. You can get poverty level information for the county you live in by Googling county + state + poverty level. Do the same and substitute population. I always find it helpful to use percentages + real numbers; then, it’s not 11.9% but rather 1252 human beings.
This summer we have been privileged to have participated in some wonderful conferences that offer hope for the future. First, we attended the Sojourners Training on Voting out Poverty in Washington, DC. (www.voteoutpoverty.com) Sojourners is an evangelical Christian group led by Rev. Jim Wallis. Second, we were delegates to the Convention for the Common Good convened by 17 Catholic groups in Philadelphia. The delegates gave final approval for the Platform for the Common Good. (www.votethecommongood.com)
Before you the reader say well that is evangelical or Catholic stuff, we encourage you to look at one more web site. (http://www.fightingpovertywithfaith.com/) Twenty two groups representing people of all faithsâ€”Christian, Jewish and Islamicâ€”are calling upon us, people of faith, to get serious and do something about poverty.
Poverty is a big problem in the United States, Georgia, Towns County, and the world. For information purposes in 2008, a family of three earning less than $17,600 is considered to be in poverty. In America, the richest nation on earth, 37 million people live in poverty. Another 9 million live below 200% of the poverty line ($35,200 for a family of three). In Towns County in 2004, 11.9% of the people (1252) were below the calculated poverty line which many believe is much too low to be realistic.
The initiatives listed above are designed to put a laser focus on solving the problem of poverty over a period of time. Some say we can never do away with poverty. Suppose we had said that about putting a man on the moon. Gordon Brown, British Prime Minister, told a group that eliminating poverty is not a problem of capability but rather a problem of will. We have the resources. We just need to realign our priorities.
As people of faith, we are called to alleviate human misery. We are not called to amass treasure in silo after silo. Rather, we are called to work for the good of allâ€”love one another. We are called to eliminate poverty. We know that we will be judged by what we have done or not done to the least among us.
During this election year, we encourage you to work in your faith communities. Use the web sites above to get informed and to inform members of your faith communities. Let politicians know that we want to develop realistic plans to alleviate the suffering of every American who lives in poverty.