Poor mothers suffering from generalized anxiety disorder were found to be anxious not because of mental illness but because of poverty.
-from Harper’s weekly “Findings” column, summarizing new scientific research
There is a lot of ignorance about what poverty really entails. "Get a job" is a common enough refrain to those who might dare to ask for help; it’s easier to pathologize behavior than to recognize our own culpability in the social structures which perpetuate its causes. Poverty is more exhausting than those outside of it can imagine. It is not to be wallowed in, but it is a vicious trap: the only way out is to move forward, but it already takes all of one’s energy not to fall further behind.
Poverty is in many places. It affects individuals, but it is nearly always a consequence of systems, no matter where: in rural American or in Cuba the approaches are very different and the results are disproportionate, but what they have in common is the profound stagnation that results from intentionally limiting opportunity; from injustice.
Poverty has roots. It has effects, pernicious to many and beneficial to the rare few, and the causes and the effects interrelate; it is conquerable but only by great effort and systemic change – only by the efforts of those on the outside of it, just as much as those on the inside.