Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.—Luke 6:20
We must talk about poverty, because people insulated by their own comfort lose sight of it.― Dorothy Day
Attachment is the root of all suffering.—Guatama Buddha.
I am a member of the Global One Percent. I bet you are too.
According to the Global Rich List, 99% of the world makes less than $32,400 per year. That means we are among, not just the richest people on the planet, but among the richest human beings who have ever lived. Even someone living at the current Federal Poverty Level, $11,880 a year is still at the higher end of the global wealth bell curve, and ranks in the top 14.54% of the world’s wealth.
- The average laborer in Ghana makes $.08 per hour. It would take him 202 years to make $32,400.
- The monthly income of someone making $32,400 a year would pay the monthly salary of 122 doctors in Kazakhstan.
- The average worker in Indonesia would have to invest two hours of earnings to buy a can of soda.
Yes, even though you are struggling to pay the rent, make your car payment, save for retirement, buy groceries, and pay your utility and cellphone bills, you’re rich, just like me.
What Catholic Worker Dorothy Day said has come true: insulated by our own comfort, we have lost sight of what it means to be poor. In love the idea of having more stuff, we have forgotten that Jesus said, “Woe to you who are rich, for you having your reward in full.” In our desire to hold on to our stuff regardless of the real cost, we forget the wisdom of the Buddha: “Attachment is the root of all suffering.”
Perhaps we should trade our envy of the super-ultra-über-rich in for some gratitude and generosity. Try this bit of Lenten discipline: give some of your stuff to someone who has less than you do today. Do it without worry about how they will use it and in gratefulness for the time you held it.
You just might find out how rich you are.