Culture Clash 

A Closer Look at Poverty in America


One would not think of there being poverty in America, but I believe as I always have, that poverty in America is all about perspective and what the American dream is really all about.  There has been a story that has been circulating for some years now in and around Christian ministry, especially by the mouths of missionaries in third world countries.

Recently it resurfaced by way of an acquaintance and peer in the network marketing industry. It has always been a story that has allowed me to re-adjust my thinking of what reality really is, and this time was no different. The story goes like this:

One day , the father of a very wealthy family took his son on a trip to another country with the express purpose of showing him how the poor people of the world live. They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered by American standards to be a very poor family living in the country. Upon their return from their trip the father asked his son, “How was the trip for you son?”

The little boy answered, “It was great, Dad.”

“Did you see how poor people live?” the father asked.

“Oh yes. I really did!” said the son.

The father then asked his son, “So, tell me, what did you learn from our trip?”

The son answered. “I saw that we have one dog and they had four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our back yard and they have a beautiful stream of cool water that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have a whole sky of stars at night that I have never seen before.”

The father listened wide eyed as his son continued, “Our patio lets us see our front yard, but they are able to look for miles to the horizon and see forests and mountains. We only have a small piece of land to live on, but they have rolling fields that go beyond our sight. We have servants who serve us, but they serve others without even a thought. We have to go out and find and buy our food, but they are able to grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, but they have many friends to protect them.”

The boy’s father was speechless.

After a few moments, the son whispered, “Thanks dad for showing me how rich we could be, and how poor we really are.”

Perspective is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? Why does it so often take the perspective of a child to show us what is really important in life?

May this story help you refocus on what is most important in your life, and help you to have the courage to embrace what is truly the richness of life.

If you are at all like me, it makes you wonder what would happen if we all would continually give thanks in everything we have, whether it fits the world’s idea of prosperity or not. Wouldn’t it be a great world to live in if everyone, including ourselves, would stop worrying or complaining about what they don’t have, and learn to be thankful for what they do have?

Editor’s Note: It should go without saying that there are legitimate needs of individuals who are struggling due to no fault of their own. And likewise, in some countries, there are pressing needs to show Christian charity towards those who are struggling just to stay alive. Hunger is a problem that each one of us should be personally proactive in working to bring an end to. Yet, within our present culture there is a growing mindset (especially in the United States) that says, I deserve more and I want it now, but I don’t want to have to work for it. We are becoming a society of consumers that are expectant of getting things cheap and quick, if not for free.

Adding to this growing cancerous deficiency of our collective character is our present direction as a nation that is reinforcing the mindset that we are ‘entitled’ to our fair share of what everyone else has or is getting. Regardless of your political views, the truth is that entitlements and subsidies – that of a person receiving money and services through the redistribution of wealth from the ‘haves’ to the ‘have nots’ (a Neo-Marxist view) – is bankrupting America. And, when America is bankrupt, it will affect the entire world and its economic and political stability.

But then again, I do imagine that it’s all in one’s perspective, isn’t it? How poor are we becoming?

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