Connecting the Haves and the Have-Nots

Yesterday my random encounters included a woman wearing a super cute easy-breezy dress and when I complimented her on it she said, “QVC. Denim and Company.”  I looked up this unknown (to me) supplier of cute dresses only to see that I could buy the dress she was wearing on installments.  The dress cost $36.00 but I could buy it in three payments of $13 each over the course of three months.

Please read that paragraph again if you ordinarily buy your clothes at places where a $36 dress is already a deal.  If you buy your stuff in fancy mall stores or online from fancy mall stores, note that there are people who need to break up a $36 purchase into three installments.

Also yesterday, I read a New Yorker story about “Koks, the World’s Most Remote Foodie Destination” which happens to be in the Faroe Islands.  I have friends who have vacationed in the Faroe Islands.  Maybe they’ve been to Koks.  Maybe they’ve delighted in fermented lamb or “raw mahogany clam on the half shell over kale puree.”  Koks serves only 24 people nightly at $220 per person.  Wine is extra.

The world of my friends who shop at QVC and pay in installments is nothing like the world of my friends who vacation on islands settled by the Vikings north of Scotland.  Their lives could not be more different.

To all my NPR-listening progressive friends:  there are people in our midst who have no idea who Susan Stamberg is – much less Sylvia Poggioli.  There are people who have never seen an ocean or a Great Lake or kale puree.  There are many people who juggle their bills in ways that others of us don’t:  food or medicine?  Mom’s medicine or the kid’s medicine?  A bus pass to get to work or a pizza this Friday night?

It’s no surprise that our nation and our culture are so extremely divided.  And it’s not only a political separation.  It’s a life separation.  Most of you reading this blog post do not have to choose between a pizza and a bus pass.  We can juggle more choices.  We have access to more safety nets.  We have dramatically fewer crises that might render us homeless.

I write this as a Have.  I have more than I will ever need.  My upcoming family reunion dinner would be a once in a lifetime feast for most of the planet.  And I confess before you and the Almighty that I still want more.  I’d love to travel to London to see TBC.  We “need” to update our kitchen.

How might we who have much connect with others who have much less in ways that are not patronizing and toxic?

Is your church, your school, your place of business where both the Haves and the Have-Nots co-mingle?  If not, perhaps we need to figure out how to do this for the sake of the gospel that we Christians claim to believe.  I for one could learn quite a bit about life from my new friend with the $36 dress whether she bought it in installments or not.

Image from Escapism Magazine of a waterfall on the Faroe Islands.

6 responses to “Connecting the Haves and the Have-Nots

  1. Breaking the purchase into three payments also adds $3 to the cost of that dress for those who can’t afford to pay $36 one time.

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  2. Perry Latshaw

    Amen to the last statement. This has been a personal choice of mine and it keeps my kife grounded and real. The divide is complicated, arrogant and lacking in authenticity. Thank you for these thoughts.

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  3. Yes. All of this. Thank you for saying it so well.

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  4. During the school year, twice a week, I drive across town from my middle class neighborhood into the poorest neighborhood in our city to volunteer with first graders. Once a month I drive from my middle class neighborhood into the wealthiest neighborhood in our city to have my hair colored. I know of what you speak.

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  5. “How might we who have much connect with others who have much less in ways that are not patronizing and toxic?”

    You might start by re-examining your assumption that money and intellect are strongly correlated.

    Some of your “NPR-listening progressive friends” probably shop at Goodwill now and then.

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