Most people who aren't poor don't trust people who are.
The lack of trust of which I speak comes in a number of varieties.
Middle and upper class folks often think low-income people are stupid, lazy, not trustworthy, culturally deficient and/or generally unworthy. Not many will admit to these opinions, but actions speak loudly. When pressed, some will even own up to such ideas.
A tipoff to this attitude or perspective can be seen in how charity works. Often we frame the world in a way that guarantees the poor will be in need of us, our solutions and our superior resources.
"Why, without us where would the poor be?" our attitudes sometimes shout.
Professional people who make a good, middle-class living working among the poor can be among the worst culprits when it comes to not believing in people.
Here's a test to try. Suggest to a service provider that a really good way to organize the delivery of needed services would be in involve the poor in the planning and implementation process. Watch the reactions.
Most people assume the poor have few, if any, assets to bring to the table.
People who provide emergency housing to the homeless sometimes can't bring themselves to believe that, given a safe place to live, a space to control and call home, many homeless people would do just fine without all of the other "necessary" services offered by the experts.
The "poverty industry" is really a major part of the problem, especially in this matter of believing in people and their inherent capacity to solve their own problems.
The fact is the poor are no more likely to be lazy, evil, stupid or unmotivated than the rest of us! Experience teaches me that the poor offer up what they do have more freely than the more well-to-do. Something about a sense of control or ownership comes into play here.
Sometimes the categories created by the people in charge--that is those with the money--box others in and sentence them to nicely manageable categories where people become statistics and the grist for strategic plans. The entire process provides a much needed and convenient reason not to provide what is really called for: genuine opportunity and fair and open access to financial resources.
So much is lost due to this determined brand of faithlessness. So many assets squandered. So many opportunities for creative new solutions and partnerships undiscovered. So much color, variety and creativity surrendered before it is even recognized. So much of the dull, boring, paternalistic, condescending, ineffective, "same old, same old" approach getting us nowhere fast!
I've about decided that the worst kind of unbelief may just be the inability to believe in people no matter what they own or don't own.
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