We speak much for equality in the United States. Our first statement as a nation attests it’s a “self-evident truth” that all are “created equal.” Lincoln reminded, at Gettysburg, we were “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition” of equality. Our constitution is premised on “equal protection of the laws.” Allegiance is pledged, continuously, to “liberty and justice for all.” We talk a good game. But what we do has little in common with what we say.
In the richest nation on earth, over 15 percent of us fall below the stingy federal poverty standard – $23,000 annually for a family of four. We have, this morning, more poor people in poverty, in raw numbers, than at any moment in our long history; more, on a percentage basis, than at any time in a quarter century.
But poverty isn’t just a number. It’s a draining of the body, a wound to the soul. Amid such plenty, it is a willful marginalization, an infliction of demeaning indignity.