Marian Wright EdelmanOp-EdOpinion

MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: God Help Us to End Poverty Now — Beginning With Our 11.6 Million Poor Children

With Congress expected to vote on the Build Back Better Act imminently, I pray God will help our leaders and all of us find the will, courage and common sense to end poverty in our time, beginning right now with passage of this transformative package for children and families.

God help us to end poverty in our time.

The poverty of having a child with too little to eat and no place to sleep, no air, sunlight and space to breathe, bask, and grow.

The poverty of watching your child suffer and get sicker and sicker and not knowing what to do or how to get help because you don’t have a car or health insurance.

The poverty of working your fingers to the bone every day taking care of somebody else’s children and neglecting your own and still being unable to pay your bills.

The poverty of having a job which does not let you afford a stable place to live and being terrified you’ll become homeless and lose your children to foster care.

The poverty of losing your job because you cannot find reliable child care or transportation to work.

The poverty of working all your life caring for your children and others and having to start all over again caring for the grandchildren you love.

The poverty of earning a college degree, having children, and taking home $300 a week if you’re lucky.

The poverty of loneliness and isolation and alienation — having no one to call or visit, tell you where to get help, assist you in getting it, or care if you’re living or dead.

The poverty of having too much and sharing too little and having the burden of nothing to carry.

The poverty of convenient blindness and deafness and indifference to others, of emptiness and enslavement to things, drugs, power, violence and fleeting fame.

The poverty of low aim and paltry purpose, weak will and tiny vision, big meetings and small actions, loud talk and sullen grudging service.

The poverty of believing in nothing, standing for nothing, sharing nothing, sacrificing nothing, struggling for nothing.

The poverty of pride and ingratitude for God’s gifts of life and children and family and freedom and country and not wanting for others what you want for yourself.

The poverty of greed for more and more and more, ignoring, blaming, and exploiting the needy, and taking from the weak to please the non-needy and strong.

The poverty of addiction to drugs, to drink, to work, to self, to the status quo, and to injustice.

The poverty of fear which keeps you from doing the thing you think and know is right.

The poverty of despair and cynicism.

God help us end poverty in our time in all its faces and places, young and old, rural, urban, suburban and small town too, and in every color of humans You have made everywhere.

God please help us to come together and raise our voices to end poverty on Your earth in all its guises — inside and out — physical and spiritual, so that all our and Your children may live the lives that You intend in the world You created for us to share.

Edelman is founder and president emerita of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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