In 1948, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). They are simple, yet profound, rights that apply to all people and all nations.
In Proverbs 29:7 it says, "The godly know the rights of the poor; the wicked don't care to know."
What is interesting to me is that the godly know the rights of the poor because they understand the foundational truth that all people and all nations have the same rights.
The wicked have a different point of view--seeing their rights as different or supreme to others.
The godly don't consider themselves to be different from the poor. They are the poor. They identify with "the least of these"--because this was the message of Jesus.
So what about you? Do you know about the rights of the poor? Do you know about the people in poverty within your own city? Do you hold assumptions about their lives? Do you believe that they should "pull themselves up by their bootstraps?"
Here are a few myths about poverty that you might find interesting:
1. Single moms are the problem. Only 9 percent of low-income, urban moms have been single throughout their child's first five years. Thirty-five percent were married to, or in a relationship with, the child's father for that entire time.*
2. Absent dads are the problem. Sixty percent of low-income dads see at least one of their children daily. Another 16 percent see their children weekly.*
3. Black dads are the problem. Among men who don't live with their children,black fathers are more likely than white or Hispanic dads to have a daily presence in their kids' lives.
4. Poor people are lazy. In 2004, there was at least one adult with a job in 60 percent of families on food stamps that had both kids and a nondisabled, working-age adult.
5. If you're not officially poor, you're doing okay. The federal poverty line for a family of two parents and two children in 2012 was $23,283. Basic needs cost at least twice that in 615 of America's cities and regions.
6. Go to college, get out of poverty. In 2012, about 1.1 million people who made less than $25,000 a year, worked full time, and were heads of household had a bachelor's degree.**
7. We're winning the war on poverty. The number of households with children living on less than $2 a day per person has grown 160 percent since 1996, to 1.65 million families in 2011.
8. The days of old ladies eating cat food are over. The share of elderly single women living in extreme poverty jumped 31 percent from 2011 to 2012.
9. The homeless are drunk street people. One in 45 kids in the United States experiences homelessness each year. In New York City alone, 22,000 children are homeless.
10. Handouts are bankrupting us. In 2012, total welfare funding was 0.47 percent of the federal budget.
- Erika Eichelberger (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/03/10-poverty-myths-busted)
*Source: Analysis by Dr. Laura Tach at Cornell University. **Source: Census
The rest of Proverbs 29 gives a picture of the wicked person (also called stubborn, evil, mockers, fools, bloodthirsty, liars, oppressors, undisciplined, disgraceful, rebellious, hot-tempered, prideful, thieves...). He was always pampered as a child. He was never disciplined and his character never fully developed. As he grew into a man, he became entitled and prideful. He demands that others respect him though his actions a not respectable. He never matured.
As a man, he rejects discipline. He has no insight into his own behavior. He doesn't care. He has no empathy for the concerns, needs, or suffering of others. He has no time or energy for those that he considers to be below him. He will not share his resources. Sound like anyone we are currently exposed to in the media?
Yet the godly have compassion. They know that the poor person on the street or swiping the food-stamp card in the grocery line are deeply loved, made in the image of God. They know that there is more to the story and more to that person than what they see with their eyes.
They also recognize that Jesus was poor. He was homeless. He had no income. He had no secondary education. He lived off of the handouts of others. He was called a bastard, a drunk, a lowlife, a burden. His friends and followers were the lowest members of society--the people that should be deported--the people that should be banned from entering places of piety--the people that were disabled, broken, weary, and just trying to make ends meet. Sound like anyone or any group of people that you know or are aware of? Maybe you?
Maybe it's not currently you but you know that with any shift in the economic winds, it could be.