Is your "stuff" insulating you from reality?

trash bags

Last Saturday at Vestry University, I learned from The Rev. Canon Timothy Dombek, keynote speaker at our Vestry University, that people in the United States spend more money on trash bags than people in 90 countries spend on everything. That suggests Americans have an awful lot of stuff to throw away. That also suggests that people in 90 countries (and I presume they are from the 90 poorest countries) don’t have the financial resources to buy much of anything. This is a stark, if not tragic, picture of the growing economic chasm between those who are rich and those who are poor.

The statistics are chilling, and getting worse. 16% of Americans live in poverty. Billions of people in the world live on less than $2 a day. 42% of Newark kids live in poverty.

There is a temptation (and self righteousness) to think that knowing the numbers somehow makes the situation better. It won’t. I confess to a desire to soften the picture – and for a time in my life, I thought that Jesus’ claim, “you will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me” (Matthew 26:11), does that. It doesn’t. Jesus is telling his disciples – and through them Jesus is telling us, that people who are economically poor are a part of the world’s landscape – they are our brothers and sisters. And instead of trying to Photoshop them out of the picture (which seems to be de rigeur for politicians these days), we had better try and do something about it.

So what do we do? Jesu