Saturday, January 08, 2011

We Owe The Poor

We
That's you and that's me and it's more than an apology
We owe the poor.
We owe them for the food we swiped from their mouths so that we could indulge our apetites and for the clothes we stripped from their backs so that we could wear our favorite brands.
We owe them for living the lifestyle that they will never live and we further owe them for being impressed by even more than this.
We owe them for the rest they never received and for all the years of jubilee we let pass by unacknowledged.
We who seek to accumulate, owe it to ourselves to allow that part of us to die--the part that so desires to be seen as great in the eyes of kings.
The God of compassion and love invites us to draw close, to be embraced, to find our freedom in the giving of freedom to others, to find our hope in the sharing of hope with others, to find our treasure by giving our treasure away.
We--we as well as they--need a new kind of wealth, the wealth of love, the year of Jubilee.

8 comments:

simplygrand said...

WOW.

This is absolutely beautiful.

Carly said...

I'm with you for the first couple lines. But when you get to the point where you say we owe them for living the life they'll never lead, you lose me. I have met people who are economically poor yet they possess more joy, love and hope than any single person in Western culture. I have sat with those who "have" nothing and believe I am missing out on what they have.

WES ELLIS said...

Carly, good point. The life I am referring to, however, is the life where luxury is common and meals are easy to come by, where water comes in bottles and toilets flush. You're right that we are missing out on what the poor do have but that doesn't mean they're getting what they need.

SarahJoy said...

Just in regards to your last comment:

Flushing toilets are not necessarily a sign of wealth or "luxury," and thinking so may be typical of a person from a Western nation with flushing toilets. The type of toilet one place uses is often due to cultural norms rather than status.

WES ELLIS said...

Sarah, you're right that flushing toilets are not always a sign of wealth but I met a family who lived in the projects of Los Angeles who would have loved it.

Danny Kam said...

The whole discussion of reparations has always been an interesting discussion for me. We spent a semester discussing African reparations in African Civilization class and whether or not Christians owe reparations for the damage we have done to their society. I found it to be a really interesting and thought provoking discussion.

I assume that your main point is to end the "seek to accumulate" by which I assume your mean consumerism. I can't help but think, however, that "to find our freedom in the giving of freedom to others" seems to come very much from an "I am on top and choosing to give up to you poor souls who can't get freedom." It is as though their freedom depends on our giving them freedom. Freedom itself is a tricky word.

I do really appreciate your ending that we do need "a new kind of wealth." The year of jubilee in a globalized context, however, is quite difficult. What is that we would be redistributing? Would they want what we are giving them? How do we do it without it becoming a repeat of the white man's burden or some other similar concept? I really appreciate your spirit, I just don't quite know about some of the letters you used.

WES ELLIS said...

It's a poem, Danny.

WES ELLIS said...

The truth is, that the freedom of a slave is dependent on the slave owner's ability to give freedom. I'm not saying it's "white people to the rescue." I'm just saying that wherever we find ourselves as the slave owner, as the oppressor, as the one denying humanity to the other, we should find our own freedom and hope in giving freedom and grace. I don't intend to be precise in my logic, just to express what I'm feeling in response to a culture (and I am part of it) which is so distracted by luxury and glamor.