Monday, September 10, 2007

“Politically Correct” Poverty Versus True Poverty

The word poverty comes from the Latin signifying “to get little,” and in nearly universal application refers to a lack or deficiency, or to be denied adequate resources to participate meaningfully in some way in society.

It ought to be reasonably obvious then that the greatest poverty would be a denial altogether of an individual’s ability to participate in ANY way in society, i.e. a denial of their very right to live.

Such a definition clarifies the statement made by Mother Teresa that abortion is a poverty and the greatest destroyer of peace in the world today.

Poverty is an issue with men and women of good will simply because it is seen to be an injustice to the individual who lacks or who is deficient in resources, ability, etc. So what is being said is: “This is not right. Children deserve better than what they are receiving right now. They deserve everything necessary to participate meaningfully in society.”

That is the kind of thinking embraced by compassionate individuals who have great concerns about those facing poverty. Quite simply, they maintain, and rightly so, that IT IS WRONG. So poverty is an issue because justice demands that proper and rightful resources be granted the individuals in question.

Clearly, these individuals deserve basic supplies of food and clothing as well as suitable housing and education. More fundamentally however they deserve the right to life. Without that “resource” they have no ability whatsoever to participate meaningfully in society.

Considering the fact that poverty, in the narrow sense of proper food and clothing, is deemed an injustice, then the denial of that individual’s very right to live would constitute the greatest poverty and an infinitely greater injustice.

Again, in the narrow, “politically correct” sense of poverty, we see that it is only one of many kinds of injustices against children. Child abuse is another. As a society we are enraged at the thought of children being abused in any manner by adults. But which is the worse injustice: “pc poverty” or child abuse? The answer is obvious. Taken a step further, it should be equally clear that killing a child is a worse injustice than abusing a child.

Regardless of whether we frame these violations as injustices or different kinds of poverty, the worse violation of all is the killing of a child and all other injustices or poverties pale in comparison.

If one protests about “pc poverty,” maintaining that a child cannot be denied proper food, clothing, housing, etc. but says nothing when the same child’s very right to live is denied, then who will take such a person seriously?

If the deficiencies spoken of are interpreted in light of rights, a similar double standard can be seen. If one maintains that a child has a right to be properly cared for in respect to food and clothing but equivocates or is silent regarding the child’s right to live, one’s friends will scream “crazy.”

But at this point some will strongly point out that of course every child has a right to live—except those who are still in the womb. Conveniently in such cases, these Unborns, for mysterious reasons, are not considered children. Presumably, all those who are impressed with proposals to abolish “pc poverty” but pooh pooh the wider notion of poverty and injustice for Unborns, must not consider the Unborns as children. Why else would they not be protesting such grave evil and injustice aimed at the most innocent of children?

Theirs is certainly a narrow perspective on children’s rights and it is also a uninformed perspective on the question of What is the Unborn? It certainly is not a Christian view of the Unborn as confirmed by over nineteen centuries of Christian teaching and practice.

If we permit a focus on “pc poverty” and turn a blind eye to the greater poverty of abortion, what happens when there are no more children to be concerned about? Must we wait until that extreme point before considering the answers to these questions?

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