Hey folks,

So Tuesdays might be my favorite day of the week. Well at least for this next year.

Every Tuesday I work at Maryknoll from 9-12. I then return home, eat lunch and settle down in my living room for our Tuesday afternoon sessions. Our program director is conducting a variety of sessions each Tuesday from 1:30-3:30. Yesterday’s session was on working with the poor, racism, poverty, etc. It was led by a man in the Church of the Savior community. He had worked as a doctor and helped found Christ House, a hospital-like facility for homeless men. He also founded Joseph’s House, a hospice for people with AIDS. So his insight was very valued.

I really appreciated his honesty. He spoke about the frustrations that come along with working with people in poverty. About how you get frustrated at the people and start sort of believing the stereotypes that are out there. You know, that people just live on welfare and are lazy, etc. And I totally could relate. This was how I felt sometimes at my AmeriCorps position as a caseworker with the homeless.

But then he told a story about a young mother he saw one day. She was 14 and had a baby. The child was misbehaving and she just yelled at him and smacked him. At first, he was angry that she was treating the child this way. But then when you look at the bigger picture, things look a little different. Apparently her mother was a drug addict and she was passed from sibling to sibling all her life. Her mom had something like 7 or 8 siblings, so that had to not have been stable. Most of these siblings had substance abuse problems. She became sexually active at 11. In school, she never did well. So what they did at her school was put all the kids who didn’t perform well of all grades in one room and the teacher would act as more of a babysitter than a teacher.

So in looking at the bigger picture, he began to see that there were many factors and systemic things that kept this woman and her baby in poverty. Now I know, you may say that drugs are a choice. And I’m not saying that they’re not. But the chances of someone coming out of poverty when they’re in such an environment is pretty low. And at the end of the day, who am I to judge and say things like, “well, she can get out of it if she tries.” I’m not saying that that is impossible. However I’ve never lived in her situation so who am I to judge?

We then went on to discuss the history of ghettos, the prison system, public assistance, housing and other issues. We had quite an enlightening discussion. Overall, I’m learning a lot. The organization I’m working for really values research and often does not take a stance on an issue before really looking at the facts. And when they write, they write in a way in which they let the facts speak for themselves. I think that is the best. What I’m finding is that with a lot of issues there isn’t a clear cut answer. Or at least with legislation, there’s so much to it and so many facets. But you can never do too much research.

Anywho, here’s some other interesting things:

This was quite an intriguing story in the NY Times: Mind-blowing story

And this show is phenomenal: Woah It’s performed by a former Discipleship Year volunteer. It’s amazing. Go see it if you get the chance.