ADVENT REFLECTIONS: THE TREASURES OF VATICAN II
“In a special way also, those who are weighed down by poverty, infirmity, sickness and other hardships should realize that they are united to Christ, who suffers for the salvation of the world; let those feel the same who suffer persecution for the sake of justice…”
(Dogmatic Constitution on the Church)
By Demi Boeltz
Oftentimes, individuals who are trapped inside of hardships such as poverty, infirmity and sickness are unfortunately not understood by people in society who have never experienced similar suffering. However, it is vital for all people regardless of their position in society to explore all sectors of life and try to understand and appreciate what others regardless of their circumstances have to offer.
I have spent some time with people in poverty and what you must realize is that we are all more alike than different. All people have feelings; we all need food, shelter and comfort; we all need someone to listen to our stories and above all we need someone to care about us.
Unfortunately, many of the impoverished people I have had the privilege to meet have lacked many of these vital needs. Some did not have family and friends to lean on, most did not have adequate food and shelter, and all of them have had their self-confidence trampled on by our judgmental society.
Naturally, I have learned a lot from these interesting and worldly individuals. I have noticed that even though many of them have hit rock bottom they still carry on with their lives and maintain dignity. Additionally, many people who have recovered from their hardships of homelessness or illness will then provide outreach to others in need. Many struggling individuals also appreciate the simple things in life much more than people who have a comfortable lifestyle.
It is of the utmost importance to recognize that oftentimes society blames people who are homeless or suffering for putting themselves in that position in the first place. I often hear the phrase “Get a job you bum!” and unfortunately society will not usually provide work for someone who does not have a permanent address or who does not have the resources to get to work or look presentable. So it is not the individual’s fault for being stuck in poverty and more resources should be available to help people get out of that vicious cycle.
It is very rewarding to help people in need and it is necessary to understand lifestyles other than your own. Everybody has a valuable story to tell and people who are suffering should have the opportunity to share theirs so that others can learn from their experiences and make the world a better place.
Demi Boeltz is a junior studying Early Childhood/Special Education. She finds enjoyment in helping others and has learned much from working with individuals from different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.