Who are the poor?

Years ago, we were part of a group that decided to cook a sausage sizzle in the park on a Friday night and feed whoever might be in need.

It was an amazing experience and I learnt so many things, about myself and the world around me.

One thing has always stuck with me. I remember one of the other guys in the group expressing his consternation at what one of the people at the park had said. I can’t remember all the details but it ended with the man saying that we should be feeding them ‘because WE are the poor!”

I must admit, it surprised me too. A sense of entitlement that they should be helped was not something I expected, naively, I guess.

And it’s in contrast to my experience of the poor in Thailand.

The people I met in Thailand, who had far, far less than those people in the park on a Friday night, do not consider themselves poor. And, I suspect, would be quite insulted if it were implied.

We all have a different idea of what poor looks like, depending on our upbringing and what we get used to. And I think we all know, ‘poor’ here in our western societies is markedly different to a large percentage of the world.

And you know what struck me?

The people in the park are poor because they see themselves that way; victims, controlled by society and circumstance. They have a poor mentality that the people I met in Thailand don’t even entertain.

So, yes, they are right, they are the poor.

And the people I met in Thailand are the rich.

14 thoughts on “Who are the poor?

  1. My hubby grew up in post-war Europe. He knew they were poor, but so was everyone else. But he also knew they weren’t in poverty. Big difference.


    • Ah yes. There is such a big difference between poverty and being poor. And we do measure ourselves by everyone else don’t we? The pill is always easier to swallow if everyone else is having to take it too.
      Thanks for popping in 🙂


  2. When we want to help “the poor”, we need to look beyond the homeless in the park and the folks with the “oh poor me” attitudes. We need to look at the boys down the street who wear the same shirts to school every day. We need to recognize the kids in our Sunday School class who never go to the youth activities, even when they are free, because everyone stops for ice cream or pizza on the way home and these kids can’t afford to pay their way. We need to look for those who are doing their best to blend into the rest of society, not asking any favors, who desperately need help to make it.


    • Esther, you’ve said more here in your comment than I did in my whole post. That experience in the park certainly changed my idea of ‘poor’ and then going to Thailand has changed it yet again. We need to ‘see’ properly, don’t we? And then help accordingly. Thanks for your insightful comment x


  3. Agree…well said. I have been in money-poor situations…many of them! But I like to count my blessings. I’ve always had a roof over my head, a car that starts when I turn the key (my current car, though way cool, is 12 years old), a family that I love and loves me, job with great bennies, great internet friends like you. What else do you need? Not a dang thing.


  4. Susannah, thanks for the kind words. It’s easy to recognize the poor among us when you’ve been there. Even when we had no money, we had love, we had family, we had books, and we had a mother who KNEW there was a better day coming. But I also realize that my hard times were nothing compared to those in other parts of the world.


  5. Wow, you’ve made me think about this. Poor wears many different attitudes and appearances. I’ve seen “the poor” in the Philippines, and in the parks downtown. I’ve seen the poor in mindset in my daily living. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.

    And, thanks for following my blog. I look forward to getting to know you better through yours.


    • My pleasure, your blog is lovely 🙂
      There are so many types of ‘poor’ and most of them don’t have anything to do with how much money is in bank accounts. The challenge, I guess, is to give generously anyway, regardless of the attitude. After all, I don’t think Jesus had a disclaimer there when he told us to love each other.
      Thanks for popping over 🙂


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