by the Rev. Ross Ludeman
A story in the Huffington Posts told about a woman who had lost her job and tried for two years to find another. She did everything she might have but her search resulted in 215 rejections. She described not only her search but what she had to do to keep on with her daily life. It was a tale of a descent into poverty. Her description and my own experience as a child make it clear that there is a reality of being poor that probably escapes most of us. Being poor is a struggle, potentially embarrassing, something you try to conceal. It is a constant companion, a feature of so much of your life- a discipline of scarcity, and exhausting, as the ends do not always meet. Too often we (sometimes unconsciously) make a judgment that a person who is poor is in some way to blame. That is not the whole story. There are patterns and forces that can trap persons and families. It was WWII that offered the opportunity for steady employment for our family and a gradual escape from being poor. Therefore, if we are truly concerned about the poor, we need to be aware of those patterns and structures in government, social policy, and financial institutions that provide or restrict opportunity. Those who follow Jesus are asked to welcome the stranger, the be generous to those in need. That includes a personal response and a concern for the ingrained resistance to justice that suffocates so many. Therefore we support 100 Nights, but also pay attention to local and state policies and practices affecting the poor.