Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Healing the wounds of poverty

| September 23, 2020 1:00 AM

A major shift is beginning to percolate in North Idaho, and we’re ready to see it happen.

About 80 people from area nonprofits, ministries of faith, education, law enforcement and more participated in poverty survivor and communication expert Donna Beegle’s Poverty Immersion Institute. These now poverty-informed individuals are going to be the agents of a change that will lift up those living below the poverty line, in turn improving our community overall.

Keys to this change are communication, dignity and mentorship. When we see the same faces in the soup kitchens and welfare lines, we can do better than giving them enough to get by for the day. We need to ask what it is that brings them there, and use our gifts, connections and resources to treat the disease of poverty, rather than the symptom. We need to get to the root of the issues so they no longer need those services.

Beegle’s training enlightens us to understand that poverty comes in many forms.

Situational poverty differs from generational poverty. Mental health issues and addiction require understanding, not disdain. It’s important to realize that each person’s situation is different. Just because you did something one way doesn’t mean that it is possible for everyone else.

How can people in the throes of poverty pick themselves up by their bootstraps when they have no boots? Maybe they had boots once, but they have given up hope because their spirits have been shattered by a broken system that tells them there’s something wrong with them.

Poverty is evil. People are not evil. In North Idaho, one of the most giving and, honestly, well-off communities in the country, we need to take a stand against this evil and lift up our brothers and sisters rather than judge them for being in tough situations when we have no idea how they got there. It’s our responsibility to our neighbors to help where we can. Because if not you, then who?

It has been said that a society is measured by how it treats its most vulnerable members. Put yourself in their tattered or missing shoes. Where is the dignity in waiting in line for a handout? Can we truly feel good about knowing millions of adults and children are sleeping on the streets in our country of abundance tonight?

It’s time to get to work reimagining how we can make the future brighter, for ourselves and those around us. We’re ready to get rid of the Band-Aids and start truly healing the wounds of poverty.

As a community, we can certainly do better.

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This editorial was written by Press staff writer Devin Weeks, who attended the Beegle training last week not just as a reporter, but as an active participant.