Poverty's skanky tarts


Poor man's feet, socksPoverty is an ocean of submerged, twinned predators: neglect and abuse, disease and stunted futures, malnutrition and obesity, fear and anger, hatred and ignorance, self-absorption and apathy.

Poverty's the crook water dribbling from broken faucets and fouled cisterns. The leftovers and congealed crumbs scraped off the plates of the rich. Polluted air from crowded, noisome cul-de-sacs, barely sustaining life. Fouling our lungs. Rotting our soil.

Poverty monopolises websites, takes out the front pages of newspapers and leads news bulletins, masquerading as homelessness, crime, unemployment, violence and substance abuse.

Poverty is this land's ochred custodians and carers, branded by government propagandists as addicts, paedophiles, wife-beaters, coffin cheaters, and ne'er-do-wells. Poverty is the unpaid rent of more than 200 years of colonisation.

Poverty leaves a kid to her own solitary devices in the corner of a one-bedroom unit. It's a child who will never be read to. Who doesn't access a computer, learn to play or study, or score a well-paid job. It's teenagers who bash exchange students for iPads and points of difference.

Poverty is pensioners eating canned excuses for a decent meal. The bloke with a broken back whose job's gone. Whose health is broken. Whose marriage is stuffed.

Poverty is what happens when I don't care about you, you don't give a toss about me, and our neighbours have got no hope. For many Australians, even high flyers, poverty's skanky tarts — foreclosure, repossession and bankruptcy — are only a handful of missed paydays away.

Poverty is more than an empty purse.

Poverty is people despairing of ever being held and wanted. It's broken spirits who no longer sustain any belief in life, any hope for the future or any joy in the present. Jumping headlong onto train lines, OD-ing in laneways, cracking on to suicide by cop.

Poverty is anyone who can't or won't take the time to stop and listen to another human being.

'Blessed are the poor in spirit' who end up touting as case studies for faith-based organisations and NGOs; that's their only chance to come up for air and be affirmed as belonging to 'our mob'.

Poverty is feeling (being?) Godforsaken. Shattered in a world of incredible creativity and beauty. Losing hope when you need it most. Being robbed of peace, on this inspired, inspiring sphere.

'Misfortune pursues the sinner, but prosperity is the reward of the righteous' — that's the worst proverbial untruth we offer our own progeny. We spit on Christ, we wipe our orifices on our coat of many 'druthers', when we neglect poverty street's salivating children. 

Barry GittinsBarry Gittins is a Melbourne writer. 

Topic tags: Barry Gittins, poverty



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A most BEAUTIFUL article Barry - thank you- it helped me remember the GROTESQUE words Coco Chanel once said “Some people think luxury is the opposite of poverty. It is not. It is the opposite of vulgarity.”---- in actual fact, what can be MORE grotesque and vulgar in our world- than the love of luxury?

Myra | 06 June 2012  

A beautifully challenging piece. I like the definition of poverty definition of poverty given by Muhammad Yunus in an Interview with Andrew Denton which describes the situation admirably: “Poverty, is almost, you can describe is a living in a box, all with the thick wall, no window, no door, no light, so you don't know what's coming next, you have no idea of new day starting in different way, you repeat the same thing over and over again. No hope, basically. So you try to survive the day in very uncertain conditions. So that's poverty, you have no control over your life, that's total, that's it.” (ABC-TV 07/12/09)

Rollo Manning | 06 June 2012  

A beautiful and profound piece, Barry Gittins. What you have described and defined so eloquently and poetically is the abandonment of God, the failure of our society to see the image of God in our fellow human beings and in the beauty that surrounds us.

john frawley | 06 June 2012  

Thank you, Barry, for a realistic and very moving piece of writing. i shall take it to prayer.

Maryrose Dennehy | 06 June 2012  

Maryrose: "I shall take it to prayer', a wonderful response to a beautiful article.

Gavan | 06 June 2012  

Thank-you Barry for this clear, cncise most eloquent piece. May all those blessed by it, humbly reach out to the other, tenderly enfolding him/her in the love filled depth of your heart.

Marie | 06 June 2012  

Thank you Barry for this powerful piece of writing. Profound and deeply moving.

Robert Van Zetten | 06 June 2012  

Suh-weet Jesus, as my gramma would say. That's the pithiest, bluntest, honestest, tautest, most naked, most This Is What We Are Talking About When We Talk Catholic piece I have read in a year. Wow. Thanks. That's a hard salty prayer, that is. I am going to tack that above me on the wall so I have a compass point.

Brian Doyle | 07 June 2012  

Well written Barry

Nic | 07 June 2012  

I'm sorry, but this is simplistic and naive. I know this will appeal to the envious, which i suppose is what we want to create in this overwhelming consumer society.

Michael | 08 June 2012  

Great article, Barry. Your time on the War Cry has repaid us amply

Robert Daly | 16 June 2012  

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