Where Does This Lead?

Good afternoon from Westminster, MD!

Last time we ended with the question, “Where does this lead?” Where do the realities created by extreme poverty and the insecurity of basic resources lead for people like Gladys in places like Nicaragua?

Well, I am not sure it always leads to the same place and, in fact, I am quite sure the answer is “it depends”. However, I do know one path, possibly the most common of the many, is a certain level of hopelessness. While the practical, tangible “things” of life do not provide meaning and hope, the inability to access the most basic forms of them can create a bleak outlook on life. Instead of dreaming of a better future, “this is how it will always be” becomes the pervasive attitude. This worldview gets passed on from generation to generation until it creates what is almost an informal caste system based on a lack of hope. Hopelessness abounds, and so do its byproducts.

This is not just a Nicaragua problem. Many communities in the United States, especially in inner city neighborhoods, struggle with this generational issue. The truth is you can find this sad reality in all corners of our world.

It would be easy for the “most fortunate” of us to dismiss these places as having been dealt a bad hand and not “our” problem. Many sadly do. However, even if one does not care about the impoverished among us, the impact of hopelessness unavoidably becomes a societal issue. Hopelessness creates a sense of “haves and have nots” that leads to separation, avoidance, and ignorance on all sides.

I tend to believe that most people do not fall in the “I don’t care” category but rather in the “I don’t know what to do” category. It is not so much that they do not want to be a part of finding a solution, it is that the problem seems so big that they avoid it in an effort to not feel hopeless themselves. Whether intentional or not, hopelessness created by “tangible poverty”, a lack of basic practical needs, cannot be ignored without consequences.

In the end, I think we all, or at least most of us, innately feel that there is something wrong with this situation. This is because the world was not created to work this way.

More on that next time!

– James Belt

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