I came across something about Blog Action Day a month or so ago, and saw that this year’s topic was poverty. Since I’m going to the Dominican Republic in November to blog about poverty firsthand and specifically Compassion International’s work to help meet the needs of those in poverty, I thought I should participate in this worldwide bloggy event (I wrote more about what I hope my trip will accomplish today at 5 Minutes for Mom).
But this is a books blog, right? What does reading have to do with awareness about hunger?
So very much. Heather just posted earlier this week about a book that helped raise her awareness about social justice (FYI, there were some links that were left out that I’ve since added).
Books are our gateway into real lives and fantasy worlds that we can’t or don’t normally experience. I am still feeling the impact of The Glass Castle, a popular memoir by Jeanette Walls, even though I read it two years ago. Walls shares the story of the poverty that she and her family drifted in and out of, mostly due to her parents’ lack of desire to work. It’s hard to read because her parents did choose the lifestyle to a large degree, but what really got me is that it’s the kind of thing that other people wouldn’t even realize that someone living a “normal life” — going to school, having an after-school job etc — would be experiencing.
I also understand that poverty in America is different from real worldwide poverty where there is often no hope to get out. Adam Shepherd comes to this very conclusion after his own year-long experience of starting with nothing and pulling himself out of it. I just finished his highly readable book Scratch Beginnings: Me, $25, and the Search for the American Dream (which I will review fully later this month).
And as (overly) dramatic as it was, were you not affected by Jane Eyre’s few days of hunger and homelessness when we read it for our Classics Bookclub? Her thoughts on others’ perceptions of her made me think about my perceptions and judgments of others who I see on the street.
I can scarcely bear to review the times to which I allude: the moral degradation, blent with the physical suffering. I blamed none of those who repulsed me. I felt it was what was to be expected, and what could not be helped: an ordinary beggar is frequently an object of suspicion; a well-dressed beggar inevitably so. To be sure what I begged was employment: but whose business was it to provide me with employment? Not, certainly, that of persons who saw me then for the first time, and who knew nothing about my character (331).
Has a book ever changed your impressions about poverty? Did it change your actions?