Letters to the Editors

Poverty found in our own backyards

Dear Editors,

RE: “White bracelets little more than shallow activism” (Journal, Nov. 18, 2005).

The launch of the Queen’s Make Poverty History campaign this week was timely in light of the op-ed that was printed in last Friday’s Journal. While I agree with Ms. Walji that poverty still exists in full force and that neither the Live-8 concerts nor the coming year will signify its end, I don’t agree that you have to go to Ethiopia to see it.

In fact, you don’t have to look beyond our own nation’s borders, or Kingston’s city limits. It can be found in First Nations reserves, in northern communities, in the small remote and rural pockets of Canadians who have been failed, forgotten, and pushed to the periphery of our “privileged” society—no, you don’t have to look far to see poverty.

Nor do I believe that you have to travel oceans and continents to do your part and “get your boots dirty.” In fact, I think that living in the wealthy nation that we do presents us with an unprecedented opportunity to effect change. We are not separate from poverty, but necessarily implicated in the processes that make and keep people poor.

Because impoverishment is not merely about the poor, but about the extremely wealthy and the incredible gap that exists between them. About how the majority of the world’s resources are enjoyed by a minute few and the disgusting logic that justifies so many living—and dying—on so very little. To recognize this is, I believe, the most valuable thing that we as Canadians can do.

Ms. Walji is correct that wearing the white band is not enough. So, for those of you who have chosen not to wear a bracelet or are thinking of removing it from your sleeve of social justice, feel free. What I believe is important is acknowledging that poverty is not a phenomena that exists only in Ethiopia, Guatemala or Myanmar. It is one which exists in my life, in yours, in the lives of all Canadians. Because whether we are poor, wealthy or somewhere in between, we are all part of the unjust and inequitable global economy.

I am still wearing my bracelet because, like the author, to stop may mistakenly give the impression that we have indeed made poverty history and is no longer a concern that merits a place on my left wrist. But more than that, I am wearing my bracelet because I fear to stop may signify something even worse—that I have given up, given in, and gone home, that poverty and making it history is simply too tall of an order to even begin to fill. And that it is a problem from which I am so far removed that any opportunities to “get my boots dirty” are just too far to reach. And I cannot believe that that is true.

Poverty will still exist tomorrow, and the day after that. But to give up on the world’s poor would be by far the greatest injustice we have afforded them to date.

Mandy Moore

ArtSci ’07

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