The Beauty of Poverty?

8 thoughts on “The Beauty of Poverty?”

  1. Paraphrased your post for our eight-year-old. Her question, “how do they wash their dishes?” I did turn it back to her and she did figure your just must do it by hand, but it was certainly surprising to her. Not sure if she will be so excited to visit now! (On a school poster about her, she said the place she wants to visit is Malawi, but that was before this!)

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  2. Could it be that we tend to take beautiful pictures to ‘sanitize’ poverty? Could it be that we publish beautiful pictures because if we are honest, we don’t actually want to see the nitty gritty ugliness of poverty and what it does to people? How many ‘likes’ would a picture of a malnourished child get? When we see a picture of the ugly side of poverty, it reminds us that we, those who ‘have’, are to help those who lack. I think that many in N America enjoy (too much?) comfort and that we don’t like to think about the suffering of others – it makes us uncomfortable. We run from suffering in our society. I think that it can also make us feel helpless: what can I do about the suffering of this person in a faraway place? You mention that you see resilience, strength, gratitude, and optimism among the poor in Malawi and this is what makes things beautiful. Perhaps the children growing up in poverty in Malawi are learning more important life lessons than the ones that our children are absorbing by being immersed in our entitled and excessive society.

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  3. Oh Vivian, you painted a both a happy and sad picture for me today. The beauty that you saw in the landscape and the people on your arrival sounds stunning… the mountains, the lush greenery, the women with baskets on their heads and babies on their backs. And the sadness of the poverty and suffering in Malawi that is heart-rendering. But you see strength and beauty in the people and the landscape. Thanks so much for sharing your insights.
    peace to you,
    love, Mom

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  4. Hi Blair and Vivian. Great to hear from you! And thank you seeing, and writing about, the sobering contrasts of God’s beauty, our poverty, God’s grace. Glad you’re doing well!

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  5. Thank you. I am re-living my 6 months spent in Mulanje reading your posts so far. Especially here, trying to communicate to people who will never totally understand your reality – the wonderful-ness and awful-ness of it; the joy and struggle it is to be there; the personal toll of thinking about these things every damn day; feeling lucky and guilty at the same time each time you leave your home to do a tiny little thing. It’s a lot. Blessings to all of you. May your family be strong and God be your guide. -Emma Nickel

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  6. One of the challenges that I encountered living in Tanzania was that I had to personally confront the chasm of global inequality caused by macro economiv forces and admit my place as the rich man who had won the cosmic lottery. I could never honestly answer Jesus’ question of “when did I see you hungry, naked, in prison….?” because my own responses felt so completely inadequate in face of the scale of the problems, or worse, I wasn’t willing to go where he was calling me.

    But it is also important to see the beauty, resilience, defiance, and pride that people in poverty exhibit, without using that observation to justify our privilege (“they may be economically poor, but they are rich in spirit and have so many things that we lack like community and….”. But also to recognize how people can in turn exploit each other within their own society.

    Bottom line for me was that there is no satisfactory resolution, nor easy way through it. You just have to live within the tension, love until it hurts, and kick at the darkness where you can. Keep writing and reflecting, pray for doubt and reserve judgement.

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