Poverty and Justice

30 Jun

There are some helpful thoughts in an article here (at an Australian Catholic website) on what poverty really is and important ways that it can and should be addressed.  The article doesn’t mention Appalachia, but it certainly could, because most of what the author has to say is very applicable to the circumstances, history, and society here.

Here’s a snippet:

But, as the economist and philosopher Amartya Sen has argued, primary goods don’t necessarily translate into substantive freedoms. Poverty is not a one dimensional affliction.Communities enduring poverty are almost always torn by multiple afflictions, for example, ethnic or class discrimination or corruption. A person in a poor community may not simply suffer from a lack of primary goods (food, shelter, healthcare), but also from various forms of discrimination or poor access to institutional protection. In India, for example there are on average 11 judges for every 1 million people.

Is it possible to conceive another way of thinking and talking about overcoming the harm we see caused by poverty?

Perhaps a more holistic and far reaching approach — and a different mantra — can be found in the idea of ‘justice’. People’s desire to assist poor communities — to ‘make poverty history’ — surely arises out of a sense of injustice. So any campaign to lift people out of poverty is moved by a desire for justice. By making ‘justice’ the stated goal of the ‘anti-poverty’ movement, success would be measured not only by material outcomes, such as  the quantity of aid delivered or the number of schools opened, but by the impact made on people’s lives.


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