To shift a perspective, to deepen a stance? Take narrative, for instance, By – Nick Wright –
Unquestioned, unquestioning, and worlds apart.
I read and hear people in the wealthier countries panicking about daily infection rates and death tolls; fixated on the sense of personal risk, dream lives threatened, shops empty of toilet rolls, and the as-if brutal inconvenience of staying at home to relax, enjoy the sunshine, do some gardening, etc.
The painted picture in the media is one of the global crises;
Things never have been this bad, the world coming to an end, things never being the same again.
It’s a picture that all too often emerges from the comfort of an armchair, a fridge well-stocked with food, a car on the drive, money in the bank if needed.
It provokes deep fear, uncertainty, insecurity; spiritual, existential.
We aren’t used to feeling this level of threat, of powerlessness, of out-of-control-ness.
Religious preachers talk about end times as if this is the end. It comes across as so pious, so blind, so painfully self-indulgent.
Shift now to the perspectives of the poor.
Nothing to fall back on but faith, family, friends, and neighbors.
Here is a desperately poor woman in the Philippines. She lives on next-to-nothing with her 3 children in a boarding house in a ‘slum’.
They didn’t have money to panic buy, to stockpile when the Covid19 threat became clear.
The wealthy minority did, and that pushed up the prices of what was left. The poor got poorer.
They live hand-to-mouth, day-to-day, and the risk of starvation is greater than the risk of disease.
One son is allowed out once a week to buy food at the local market.
He carries a pass, passes through numerous checkpoints, spends 5 hours queueing for a bag of rice and a handful of vegetables.
He worried when he gets home that he may pass on a virus to his family. No sanitation.
You see, the water supply has gone off too.
People crowd around a water pump at the center of the community to carry whatever water they can to their homes in buckets.
They can’t drink it, but at least they can wash, briefly, and their clothes. It gives light relief from the heat.
he electric power fluctuates. On, off; sometimes, irregular. The internet connection went off too and the repair staff didn’t want to risk coming out to fix it.
The crowded conditions make social distancing near-impossible.
People are afraid everywhere of what they might catch, or spread.
The government says it is distributing food supplies to the poor, but it hardly ever arrives.
Local officials steal the food and pass it to their own families first. Corruption is rife and the poor have no power to address it.
Relief supplies are sold off by unscrupulous people to the highest bidders – the rich. In the capital, the poor came out onto the street to protest.
They were starving. The President ordered the police and military to open fire on them if they didn’t return to their homes.
With no end to the lockdown in sight, the poor must sit…and wait…and pray…and survive if they can.
So back to this woman. S
he knows what it is to be poor. It’s her normal life experience.
The grinding pain of poverty is relentless; it never ends. She shares the little she has with neighbors who have even less. “How can I eat while they have no food to eat?”
She’s determined to follow Jesus, whatever the personal cost.
She doesn’t know where her next meal will come from.
If she or her children get sick, they have no access to doctors, hospitals or medicine. It’s all there but too expensive, so out of reach.
She prays, reaches out to Jesus and determines to trust him.
How can we shift a perspective, deepen a stance? Remember the poor.
Nick Wright is a psychological coach and organization development (OD) consultant. www.nick-wright.com
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