of Creighton University's Online Ministries
June 21st, 2011
School of Nursing
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A couple of weeks ago, I had an opportunity to participate in a poverty simulation. It was a morning when approximately 30 of us were assigned as members of families and those putting on the simulation assumed the roles of employer, baker, pawn broker, grocer, etc. Each family was given extremely limited resources to get by. Throughout the simulation, unexpected events, some good but mostly bad, occurred.
I learned the frustrations of trying to communicate with a Spanish speaking grocer who did not speak English and standing in line at the bank only to have it close just as I finally got to the front of the line. More than the frustrations, I learned there were many decisions that had to be made such as whether to pay the rent so we would not be evicted or pay the utilities and buy food for a week. The planning that needed to go into just trying to survive was something I have never experienced. One participant was a family of one given the assignment of being an elderly widow. She talked afterwards about how lonely and confused she became trying to figure out how she could survive. We all had a mixture of other emotions such as anger, humiliation, being overwhelmed, etc from participating in this simulation, and I know we just barely scratched the surface of the experience of poverty
Sometimes in the past, I have made judgments about people just trying to beat the system. I have learned why they try to beat the system; it is the only way they can survive. Jesus did not mean that we should do to others who are living in poverty out of pity or obligation. It is only when we are motivated by a sincere respect and love for others that we are really doing to others as we would have them do to us. A Saturday morning taught me a lesson that I thought I had learned long ago.
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