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Marian Wright Edelman Headshot

A Christmas Prayer to End Poverty in Our Time

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As 2.1 billion Christians in our world prepare to celebrate the birth of the most famous poor baby in history, I hope they and all peoples will commit to helping all the poor babies in our rich nation and world find a place in our hearts and at our tables of plenty. At a time when the gap between rich and poor in our nation and the world is at its widest ever, an economic downturn driven by the greed of a few has jeopardized the lives and economic security of all of us. I hope we will all raise a mighty voice to reset our nation's moral and economic compass.

God help us to end poverty in our time.
The poverty of having a child with too little to eat and no place to sleep,
no air, sunlight and space to breathe, bask and grow.
The poverty of watching your child suffer and get sicker and sicker and not knowing
what to do or how to get help because you don't have a car or health insurance.
The poverty of working your fingers to the bone every day taking care of someone else's
children and neglecting your own, and still not being able to pay your bills.
The poverty of having a job that does not let you afford a stable place to live and being terrified
you'll become homeless and lose your children to foster care.
The poverty of losing your job because you cannot find reliable
child care or transportation to work.
The poverty of working all your life caring for others and having to start all over again
caring for the grandchildren you love.
The poverty of earning a college degree, having children, opening a child care center,
and taking home $300 a week or month if you're lucky.
The poverty of loneliness and isolation and alienation--having no one to call or visit, tell you
where to get help, assist you in getting it, or care if you're living or dead.
The poverty of having too much and sharing too little and having the burden of nothing to carry.
The poverty of convenient blindness and deafness and indifference to others,
of emptiness and enslavement to things, drugs, power, violence and fleeting fame.
The poverty of low aim and paltry purpose, weak will and tiny vision, big meetings and
small action, loud talk and sullen grudging service.
The poverty of believing in nothing, standing for nothing, sharing nothing,
sacrificing nothing, struggling for nothing.
The poverty of pride and ingratitude for God's gifts of life and children and family and freedom
and country and not wanting for others what you want for yourself.
The poverty of greed for more and more and more, ignoring, blaming and exploiting
the needy, and taking from the weak to please the strong.
The poverty of addiction to drugs, to drink, to work, to self, to the status quo and to injustice.
The poverty of fear that keeps you from doing the thing you think is right.
The poverty of despair and cynicism.

God help us end poverty in our time in all its faces and places, young and old, rural, urban,
suburban and small town too, and in every color of humans You have made everywhere.

God help us to end poverty in our time in all its guises--inside and out--physical and spiritual,
so that all our and Your children may live the lives that you intend.

Marian Wright Edelman, whose latest book is The Sea Is So Wide And My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation, is president of the Children's Defense Fund. For more information about the Children's Defense Fund, go to childrensdefense.org

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