Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Poverty of Spirit

I have been reading this novel, Among the Children, by David Adams Richards.I picked it up at a book store for cheap. It is set in New Brunswick, which is cool, because I am from the Atlantic region, and tells the story of a family through the eyes of the oldest son. I haven't finished it yet, but so far the content is intriguing. The son talks about when he realized what poverty was. There is poverty of physical wealth, and then there is poverty of spirit. Something deeper. It does not mean that the person is not functional, or gives up, but it seems to me that when one knows poverty and lives poverty, it permeates one's being.
In the story, there seems to be a sense of Self identified in the characters in that some believe they are better than certain others. The narrator shows that poverty on outer appearance is not necessarily reflective of the individual within. The father was targeted often by his community and blamed for the sins of others and yet he chose not to defend himself or to retaliate.

My colleague and I had a conversation yesterday about the misconceptions of poverty. We both live in Canada, but she had lived in Chicago as well. I commented that the book shows the gap between the upper class and the poor. Her comment was that there are some countries that like this, that have no middle class. She also pointed out that it is the working middle class that made this country (Canada) what it is. I think that poverty, inyourface poverty is not seen as much in Canada as in other countries. This is when we had a discussion about the working poor. The people who work for a living but have nothing to show for it.. Immigrants who come to this country to give a better life, or get a better life and end up working at McDonald's for minimum wage. Digging deeper into debt.
It is also easy to compare oneself to others. Often it is in the vein of "they have.. and I have not, I want that thing"... but I think it is harder to compare oneself the other way. To say that we are content with what we have, that it could be worse. People often want what they do not have and then wish they had something further when they do achieve the first thing....

Poverty of Spirit ... I haven't finished reading the book yet, but I will think more on this. I think it can a meaning on the physical plain as in "have not" and "give up", but maybe it means more... as in "blessed are the poor in Spirit"... an attitude towards the world and our place in it, not just from the physical plane, but the Spiritual world as well.

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