Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Poverty Snobs

Hello, my name is Ryan, and I am a poverty snob. Or at least I was. I don't really really know anymore...

What, exactly, is a poverty snob, you ask? Please consider the following conversation, which poverty snobs regularly engage in:

Poverty Snob: "I have a passion for [insert one of the Millennium Goals here]."

Unenlightened American: [thinks "that's weird" but says] "That's interesting. However, I've never understood why people have to travel across the world to do good when there are so many needy people in their own backyard."

Poverty Snob: [thinks "if only you knew what I know and had seen what I've seen..." but says] "You may be surprised to know that over 3 billion people -- about half of the world's population -- live on less than $2 per day. That's $700 per year per person, or less. However, in the US, the poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,000, or $5,500 per person. So although some Americans live in relative poverty, billions of people in Africa, Asia, and Latin America live in absolute poverty. Those are the people I am passionate about helping."

In an effort to help the poorest of the poor and to bring justice to the world, the poverty snob may overcompensate and convince himself that people in the developing world are far more worthy of his help than people in the developed world. However, if he really stops to think about it, he realizes that he originally started helping the global poor because he wanted all people everywhere to have an opportunity to realize their full potential. Last I checked, most Americans are far from perfect and could therefore use assistance in achieving their unlimited, God-given potentials, no different from people in the developing world. Like Nathan Price, the poverty snob's once noble goals carry the risk of deteriorating into selfish pride unless appropriately kept in context.

I still have a strong interest and passion for the developing world, but I plan to try harder going forward to keep my passion in check, so that I may be filled with a pure love for all of humanity. I believe that, as sons and daughters of God, people everywhere have unlimited potential. And I intend in all of my interactions to help others to achieve their unlimited potentials, regardless of where they live.

1 comment:

J-Rod said...

Some people need a helping hand, others a kick in the pants.