Mercy is Justice

Mercy is Justice September 14, 2016

poverty-1274179_640

(image via Pixabay)

I just saw this status from The Friendship Room, a beautiful little charity that works in my town.

here is a typical scenario of keeping the poor down.
A family of three, grandmother, handicapped mother and mentally challenged son, all renting furniture, washer and dryer, a home without running water or a toilet . They have payday loans to the staggering amount of 1,100.00 a month, They pay off their loans, and are offered another loan, they take it to pay the utilities.

So we go in, we return rental furniture and appliances, we work with them to find another home, and now we have to pay off the past AEP in order to get them on PIP. Or else we continue this insane pattern.
When people are poor and depressed, have mental disabilities, and/or little education or family, the traps and bad choices flourish. We do our very best to help untangle messes- we thank those of you who assist us, one person at a time, we try to set them free and lighten the burden.
Gratefully we have made great strides with this family, we are still chipping away at the past utilities, we are working hard to give concrete assistance that will enable them to not be dependent and live in freedom.

They do things like this for people all the time.

I’ve never been in straits like this family’s been in, but I’ve been similar places; I’m very up front and honest about poverty. Despite what you’ve been told, poverty is usually not a punishment for lack of industry. It’s something that happens if you’ve had bad luck, or if you’ve made an unwise choice, or if you’ve been a victim of certain abuses, and usually a combination of factors.

Michael and I have suggested, on occasion, that working in a payday loan shark’s office is a mortal sin, and some of our more conservative friends have not understood. But if you drive the desperately poor man into that kind of choice, you rob the poor of their wages, and that’s a sin that cries out to Heaven as much as direct killing is. It is a form of killing. It’s condemning your neighbor to a slow death, the bleeding out and starvation of their sense of dignity while the body dies off even more slowly.

It’s easy to say, “Well, they shouldn’t have taken out that loan.” But if you’re the one who’s trapped between eviction now and eviction in a few months, you’ll take the loan. It’s easy to say “they shouldn’t have gotten behind on their utilities.” But if you’re the one who has to choose between buying groceries that last week of the month that food stamps isn’t enough to cover, and keeping the water running, you’re choosing which death seems little less painful. You have no option to choose life.

It’s easy to say “they should get a job.” But when you have a disabled relative, when you’ve been out of work caring for them for so long that employers won’t even look at your resume, then you’re stuck with the reality that not everyone can get a job. It’s easy to say “they should pull themselves up by their bootstraps, start a cottage industry if they can’t find work, sell knitted socks on Etsy, grow vegetables in their backyard to make broths for the farmer’s market,” but if you’re stuck without yarn or a backyard and no money for investment, not even enough to pay off the loan shark that has you by the throat, you’ll know that not everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps. You’ll know what it’s like to not have any bootstraps and to be called lazy for not conjuring them out of thin air.

It’s easy to say “They should rely on family and friends and private charities,” until you’re the one with no family, no friends and no private charity that can fix you on its own.

"Once again, I do not totally defend Christopher Columbus, but the "fact" that he sold ..."

Why Do We Cling To Columbus? ..."
"Columbus was a very brave man who took a great risk and happened to rediscover ..."

Why Do We Cling To Columbus? ..."
"We have a Columbus Day mostly because there was a time when Irish Catholics were ..."

Why Do We Cling To Columbus? ..."
"A very thoughtful exposition. Thank you.A corollary might be that we get to Jerusalem by ..."

How Do You Get to Jerusalem?

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Catholic
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment