I always write about 8 ways. I’ll do it again before the end of the day.
But sometimes we need a why. Sometimes we need to understand the value of doing something before we actually do something.
1. because a real person might die. Poverty isn’t numbers and isn’t structures and isn’t concepts. Poverty is what real people live in and are stuck in and are hobbled by and die from.
2. because small actions are really big. 17 cents a pound is what we as a church pay for people to get food at the Community Harvest food bank. The package of pencils that I have because I like them so much would buy 10 pounds of food for someone. 10 pounds of food is five pounds of flour and a bottle of oil and a can of tomatoes. A package of pencils would buy meals.
3. because poverty hides if we don’t pay attention. It hides behind easy answers: “how you doing?” “fine.” It hides behind jobs. It hides behind credit cards. It hides behind one question too few.
4. because marriages shrivel up.
5. because poor in the united states isn’t always. When Nancy and I felt our poorest, eating frugally, looking rather than buying, spending time rather than money, we still had two cars (paid for). We still had a TV. We still had a place to live. Paying attention helps us see what we have. And what we don’t. And what others don’t.
6. because we might see Jesus. He tells a story about paying attention to sick and hungry and imprisoned. He says, “if you take care of them, in my name, you are taking care of me.” So, If we never look at poverty, or, more accurately, at the people who are in the middle of scraping by, we may never see Him?
7. because our kids are watching. If we want them to learn that money is a measure of the value of a person, then we can ignore those without it. If we want them to learn that money solves all problems, then we can throw money at red buckets. If we want them to learn that people help people, then we can hold red buckets and ring bells and deliver food and give attention and help lives.
8. because I want to be like Jesus. Being a Christ follower is what I say I want to be. And He paid attention to the people like Bartimaeus who were begging because the healthcare system and the social security system offered no other alternatives. He paid attention to people like Zacheus who were abusing their authority to collect taxes. He paid attention to a widow whose son died. He paid attention to people who were being abused by every aspect of life.
Why shouldn’t I pay attention? Why don’t I pay attention?