Saturday, March 5, 2011

Poverty.

Poverty is relative.

Week after week, women file through my doors. Some are meticulously dressed with detailed henna tattoos and large nose rings. Others wear dirt caked underslips for dresses and smell of stale urine; calloused knees are the only things more used then their clothes. It’s very diverse, but I like it that way.

Mis-matched flip flops make no difference to me; I’m just happy they come.

Sometimes, those with the nice clothes try to skip the line by pulling in favors with the translators. I ignore them and put them back in line, recognizing there is some kind of rich-vs-poor pecking order here, but I chose to live outside of it. 

However, the only reason I can live outside of it is, I’m rich. (I’m not by American standards of course... Heck, the IRS wonders why I even filed this year!)

But to them, I’m stinkin’ rich. I wear a different scrub set every day. Imagine that, seven outfits! (Never mind I have countless others they never see.)

Plus, I’m fat or should I say... proudly plump. Let’s face it, it’s been a while since I skipped a meal. So, Yes. Comparatively, I’m rich. In fact, I’m filthy rich.

Like I said, poverty is relative.
mis-matched flip flops of a patient

However, this week, I overheard (and understood even though it was in Dinka) one of my translators asking a very poor and thus dirty pregnant woman if she owned any soap. He asked her twice, before I could stop him.

“What are you asking her that for?” I interrupted. He looked down like a two year old holding a bag of stolen cookies. “Are you asking her so you can give her some soap?” I continued bitingly. Again, he made no comment and continued to take her blood pressure in silence. “That was rude. You should not ask them such things. You should only ask them what I ask you to translate. Do you understand?” He nodded, but made no effort to apologize. In his mind, he had the right to insult her filth since he was clean.

It made my blood boil... but not for very long.

The reality is, poverty will always be an issue. The sheer fact of having or not having puts a person in a special ‘status’. It’s not just here. I’ve seen this on Fremont street in downtown Vegas while ministering to drugged-out homeless people. I’ve been guilty of it myself.

However, God tells us that we are to consider others as greater than ourselves. We are to esteem others and show them how valuable they are to us, and by doing so, to show them the love of God.

Did Jesus’ blood only flow for the rich and the clean?