Shock, disbelief, fear, guilt, and empathy...you ask what is she talking about now. Those are the emotions that went through me as I sat this week in the Chicago airport mindlessly gazing up at the TV waiting for my delayed flight to board.
CNN had just reported the poverty level has risen to 16% in this country. I certainly don't think that CNN is an authority on anything so that percentage could vary a bit in either direction, but however you want to adjust it, that is still a staggering statistic! The first thing I thought as I looked around at the people sitting and waiting at the gate area with me was are they having the same reaction? Is their heart breaking for everyone who falls into that percentage as mine is? Then I asked myself, "How did we get to this point in our country?"
CNN went on to say by the year so and so one out of fifteen people would be homeless and on and on with these distressing numbers. What has happened? I am one of those eternal optimists. This country was built on the blood, sweat, and tears of people who believed in opportunity for everyone and hard work meant social mobility. This country was built on being a working nation. Most of us were raised thinking that even though we start out with very little that if we did everything correctly that one day we would have the opportunity to be successful and get ahead. Unfortunately, this seems to no longer be the case.
It's becoming harder and harder to get a leg up and get ahead. The ugly truth is our belief system seems to longer go hand and hand with the facts. Pointing fingers at financial institutions, the government, big business, gas companies...whomever you want to blame as to how we got here or what happened isn't going to change the situation. I do know that poverty is not a part of anyone's plan or the American Dream. It is also glaringly apparent that there is no perfect solution, but we all have to be a part of some solution and not a part of the problem.
That is my challenge to you; be an active part of the solution. The holidays are quickly approaching and the needs will be great. Poverty is powerful and very difficult to escape. Let's face poverty head on together. I know we can't prevent it, but we certainly can try to intervene and make a difference so at least we have an impact on it.
"Whether you deliver a nutritious meal, help with someone's utilities, purchase toys for a child, or contribute in some other way, it will have an impact on not only that individual, but also the community as a whole."
The discouraging statistics aren't going away tomorrow; there will continue to be people in need, but let's try not to throw our hands up and think there is nothing we can do. We should not rest until we all do something! Yes, we can offer needy people handouts, but at the same time let's offer them a hand up as well! Be grateful for what you have and where you are and be compelled to make a difference this holiday season more than ever. We've all had a taste of what it is to struggle and how quickly things can change. Don't be one only to take and never give. You don't have to be Bill and Melinda Gates to make an impact. Just be you and do something that will make the community a better place for someone in need!
Photo courtesy of: Brit
Don't forget to follow me on Twitter @LeighAnneTuohy and play #TuohyTrivia on Tuesdays for a chance to win a $25 donation to the charity of your choice for answering the question correctly. Learn more about my family's charity at The Making It Happen Foundation.
Miss one of my previous posts? You can view them all HERE