It is some times interesting (but often unconvincing) to listen to experts discuss strategies on how to eliminate poverty. One of the most profound statements I’ve heard in this discussion comes (unsurprisingly) from Mother Teresa. She frames the problem differently (and in my view more convincingly than many others) when she said, “Loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted is the most terrible kind of poverty.” Mother Teresa‘s understanding of poverty was second to none… and her statement needs serious reflection. She was convinced that loneliness and feelings of being unwanted are the two deepest forms of human misery. I have consistantly witnessed this type of poverty in my travels in N.America, Europe, Central Asia, and N. Africa. Often these deep miseries are rooted in broken family or community relationships.
Today as I sat on the floor eating lunch with the eight women staff members in our Operation Mercy Family Centre outside of Amman, Jordan, Mother Teresa’s words again hit home. I asked one of the staff members if she enjoyed working at the Centre. Tears swelled up in her eyes as she described how grateful she was to be part of the Family Centre staff and that it was a loving refuge from her difficult home life where she is her husband’s #2 wife. Her joy in being associated with Operation Mercy was very real.
We certainly don’t need to travel to Calcutta or Amman to find loneliness and the feeling of being unwanted. This “most terrible kind of poverty” is also here in Örebro, Stockholm, Göteborg, Malmo, etc. It is not the type of poverty that can be solved with money. Why not take a practical step to fight poverty today with a phone call, visit, or dinner invitation to a lonely neighbour or relative? Just do it!