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Poverty in a Capitalist Nation

Updated on November 11, 2009

Poverty In A Capitalist Nation

Like most of the people I know, growing up in a family of seven people living in a two bedroom house about 75 yards from a public recreation center named Kiwanis Park, there was no doubt we were poor. My father was a civil servant working for the city as a survey crew person. He had some college under his belt, but did not finish for a degree in any specific field. My mom was the fifth child born into a catholic family of seven girls and one boy. She was one hundred percent a homemaker and our voice to God. I say that because she was always praying for relief or some other type of miracle. In the early to mid 1960's my father earning about $420.00 a month bring home was paying all the bills, a $57.00 a month mortgage and providing groceries for us all. Looking back now, I wonder how the heck he was able to stretch so small amount so far!

Once during hardtimes, my mom and dad filed application for food stamp benefits and the department told them they qualified for a twenty percent offset amount on all food items purchased at retail cost which amounted to about $10.00 in savings each trip to the store.

We ate alot of beans, fish my father would catch, cereal, grits,oatmeal. I can remember many evenings having just pancakes and milk for supper.

We were made to take turns bathing in one tub of water and usually my mom would let the girls go fisrt, because us boys were always sweaty nasty from wallowing in the dirt at the ballpark.

For a long time things were really rough, but eventually my mom went to work to help out and things gradually got a little better. As soon as I was old enough to work, I signed on with the local news paper as a carrier and started making my own money to which I spent on Levis and Converse hi-top tennis shoes, and bicycle parts of course. I managed to save enough money to make the down payment on my first motorcycle and pestered my father to co-sign with me for the motor bike. My mom was completely against it, worried that I would crash and get seriously injured. My father told her, he'll be alright, besides he's paying for it.

It was now 1974 and I was delivering the local news paper and working at the seafood market icing down and cleaning fish and shrimp, loading and unloading boats. I was making about $80 to $100.00 a week now and man I thought I was wealthy. Had everything a young man could ever want then.

Money and capitalism have a mysterious way of causing a person to have many friends and not all of them would prove to be good friends. As a teen in high school, I started to see more of what culture was really like, people pulling pranks on you, stealing your stuff and lots of bullys. I started to develop a distaste for society in general and started to wall up in a self preservation manner. This led to hanging out with one certain group of friends who shared the same views of life and society. Which was a bad idea because now I was slipping into a slump, skipping classes and just avoiding people in general.

I eventually got into trouble with law enforcement a couple of times for stupid things and decided that I needed to do something more in life, so I signed up to join the military and off I went into the service. It was exciting at first and I was back learning more about different cultures and people again. Then once more trouble found me and I found myself just wanting to get away from the dark side of life that seemed to be following me taunting me to turn inward and not participate in society.

All this time I had thought lowly of myself because I felt like I'd grown up poor and would never rise above the poverty that I always knew. Just when you think your about to come up out of it some force moves you downward and you loss hope of ever breaking out and experiencing a better life. Then you become complacent and your thinking tells you, I can never escape the chains of poverty unless somebody cares enough to give me a helping hand upward and onward. Acceptance of less is not always a good thing.

Today, I choose to believe that I am wealthy in that my spirituality is growing. I have the same life I started out with changed in many ways. I have few material things and no income at all, as a matter of fact I am seriously in debt financially. But I see myself as one of the wealthyist people I know, and I know I'm not alone.

There are many who've lived the same life as me and I know that I'm not alone . I tell you, if you believe that a Man was killed by His own people, hung on the cross, and ascended to heaven, you are indeed rich beyond imagination, because you believe this!

God Bless and I hope someone reads this and is touched by it. For it is a little part of me and where I came from.


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    • christinecook profile image

      christinecook 8 years ago

      yes you are rich,very rich.we all need to value Jesus more than gold. thanks for sharing