• Jack H. Bender

Discovering Compassion for the Poor

Last week’s blog was quite personal in nature because of describing my family’s humble beginnings. I will eventually disappear in these posts, but I think it appropriate to share how I came to care about the poor. I claimed that poverty was in my family’s DNA and that gave me eyes to see it and a heart to grieve over it.

Another significant experience of mine came from attending a 30-week JustFaith course about social justice issues. Those in the class studied immigration, racism, the environment and poverty. The class demanded a response. Having thought about social justice issues for many weeks, what would be my response? Most social justice issues relate to poverty, so I picked poverty.

Poverty appears intractable, so why pick such a huge challenge? One answer is the story about starfish that have washed up on shore and a man is returning them to the sea. He won’t save them all, but he says that his actions will make a difference to the starfish in his hand. Thisstarfish.

I also share Myles Horton’s viewpoint:

“I once said that I was going to start out on a life’s work. It had to be big enough to last all my life. And since I didn’t want to have to rethink and start over again, I needed to have a goal that would at least take my lifetime. After making that decision, I never thought of doing anything else, because I knew that I could just hack away on it, and what little I could do would take my lifetime. And even if we had a revolution, the quality of that revolution wouldn’t necessarily be satisfactory, so I’d have to try to make it better.”