By Dr. David Caruth
Have you ever asked yourself where Black men fit into the discussion on poverty? My answer will probably surprise you. Black men ought to be leading the discussion, not being led around by the nose like chattel, with brass rings through our noses, by politicians who have to go back 4 generations to find poverty in their family bloodlines. For many of us, myself included, all we have to do to identify with poverty is look in the mirror, or walk across the street.
In 2015, who has the moral authority and vision necessary to help bring people out of poverty? Should we continue to wait on government or politicians to show us the way? Or perhaps we should we follow the Pope as he shifts attention away from the Catholic Church’s Sex Abuse Cases, and onto the poor? Or maybe we should hope that billionaire’s will take up this cause?
The truth of the matter is this, pinning our hopes on any the three examples listed above is not likely to bring about the change we seek. No politician, especially President Barack Obama, nor His Holiness Pope Francis, nor the wealth of Bill Gates, can deliver people from poverty.
We cannot expect society to devise a way to bring equality into our lives. Nor can we continue to allow world leaders to force us down paths towards greed, hopelessness, and death. Black men have to re-insert our independent thought and actions back into the equation.
Black men have already shouldered the burden of slavery, lynching’s, racism, and discrimination. Now we have to decide among ourselves how to help people overcome poverty. We have to use our own ideas to stop people from thinking its ok to kill the poor. Finally, we have to figure out how to use the gifts that were deposited in us at birth, and our collective strength, to change our reality.
Our teachings must empower people to chart new courses of action for themselves to bring about positive changes in their lives. Black men must be the change we seek to transform our lives. We can, and must, assert our right to be men, and stand on the Word of the Holy Scripture to transform our thinking, renew our minds, and change our perspectives of what is possible.
We don’t have to re-invent the wheel, or start at ground zero. People from around the world already know that we can move mountains. We elected Barack Obama as President of the United States of America, and erected a monument of Martin Luther King Jr. on the National Mall of the most powerful country in the world.
Our greatest challenge is to convince ourselves that our thoughts and ideas are sufficient to lift us up. Martin Luther King was not a politician, or a killer of men. Yet the statue of him stands on the national mall between symbolic mountains, not far from monuments dedicated to our nation’s founding fathers.
Martin Luther King Jr. was a Man of God who didn’t have vast amounts of independent wealth at his disposal to protect him. All he had to protect himself was the love of his fellow man, and his faith in the glory and power of God. He stood on his faith in the power of love to move the mountains of racism, discrimination, inequality, and poverty.
Yes, poverty is a mountain. It is a mountain of hopelessness and despair, and it affects people from every race and creed. But it can’t be overcome with hate and bullets. Violence breeds violence. We have to teach people how to overcome poverty, and other difficult challenges in their lives, with the Word. Yes, we all have to learn how to better understand and use biblical laws and principals to improve our lives.
Protest rallies are not enough. People have to be taught how to reflect on the circumstances they find themselves in, before they develop new strategies for taking action. As we learned from Dr. King, taking direct action is a useful and necessary tool to bring about change. But we also have to determine for ourselves what that change should be, and what steps have to be taken to reap what we sow.
Martin Luther King Jr. lifted his voice to bring about change. I urge each and every one of you who read these words to stand with those of us who have dedicated our lives to doing something about poverty. Be part of the solution, and help us help those who feel trapped by the physical and psychological shackles of poverty, to free themselves.
About the Author
Dr. David Caruth is the founder and President of God’s Perfect Timing Ministries, (GPTM). GPTM is a 501 C 3, non-profit organization that helps the homeless reclaim the dignity of their lives. Dr. Caruth overcame poverty after being struck by lightning at football practice as a senior in high school. He went on to author two books: Breaking the Cycle of Poverty with Education and Faith; and the 6 Keys of Spiritual Transformation.