Poor and Poverty are not the Same

Poor and poverty are not the same. Poverty is a measurement of a set of conditions. Poor are indicators that you mirror the conditions of the measurement. We have a tendency to think and act in ways that make poor and poverty synonymous. As a little girl growing up in a persistent poverty community, I was poor but I did not live in “the” poverty. I did not become a statistic. Geographically my “poor” status just happened to be in a community that was economically distressed, persistently. Recollections of my younger years never included a lack of the necessities of living such as food, shelter, clothing, church and an ethic of hard work, and neighbor helping neighbors. My home was not aligned with Gucci or Pravda, but it was shelved with common courtesy, respect for life and an endearment for family, friends and faith.

Strategies to end poverty has always included framework that defined all persons in a particular geographic location of poverty as being “in” poverty. When in fact, this is not true. They can find their way out with the right construct and with the right tools within that construct to include people capital uniquely mated to lead them from poverty to self sufficiency.

The richness of historical documents is that they can define with rigor, a truth that might otherwise be evasive. Matthew speaks of the poor and says they will always be with us. He did not say poverty would always be with us. Even when Boaz – a rich land owner, gave instructions to his staff to allow Ruth to glean from the fields, ample grain was left for Ruth to glean. Ruth and her mother n’ law were poor. Their environment statistically was designated as being in poverty. There were so many without the essentials for existing in that community.

Here it is being defined as an environment of loss or a state of being without essentials for living and an inability to provide or access those essentials in a state of consistency to sustain life. You can be poor – exist with meager means, and not be destitute. Such a condition can be temporary or long-term. The goal is to move the poor out of places of poverty which means out of statistical percentages considered as poor.

Some would say this is semantically, chess playing at best. Citing both poor and poverty are just shades of the same human condition. Poverty, if viewed as well, as a statistical variant, and poor a condition of lack, then statistical variants change with definitions, and so then should attitudes about the poor.