What does it mean to come from priviledge and live with the poor? This is the question Henri Nouwen asks in his book ¡Gracias! that I just finished reading. How can I, as a person rich in material wealth, live with people poor in material things, knowing that I’ll never fully be able to relate to their struggles?

What are my assumptions about the way the world works as a middle class person from the United States?

  • That I can choose what I eat based on my personal taste, not necessarily what is in season, cheapest, or will fill my stomach.
  • That I have a right to a good education, and that everyone goes to college
  • That I am independent and can put my needs before anyone elses.
  • That I need a certain level of physical comfort that includes clean drinking water from the tap, running water, a toilet.
  • That I will enjoy a certain level of physical safety without having to think about  protecting  myself and my possessions.
  • That my world is stable. Even though cable news may frighten me with sensational stories, my world is ordered, organized, and my future is certain. 
  • That I have the freedom to travel, both due to having the necesary monetary resources, but also because other countries accept my passport.
  • That I can think abstractly and critically and live in a world full of grey areas and unanswered questions
  • That I can live somewhere sheltered from extremes in nature. If it is too hot, I can turn on the AC, too cold, I turn on the heat.
  • As a woman I can enjoy all the rights, freedoms, and privledges that men can enjoy: not only things like a good education, a career, or leadership positions, but also simply the ability to go where I please and associate with whoever I want. 
Explore posts in the same categories: Marisa

One Comment on “Assumptions”

  1. Don Yoder Says:

    Yes, your assumptions are well stated and right on target.

    What if you would turn it around and ask: What does it mean to be poor and live with the privileged?

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