What’s Poor?

A BlogSnax© post

I had an interesting experience recently. I use the term “interesting” against my better judgment because, as Ben points out in “Captain Fantastic”, it’s a non-word. I’m simply at a loss regarding how else to describe it. I’ll tell you and you can come up with your own assessment.

I was reading a picture book I’d written to a class of kindergartners. The book, “The Little Red Boat Came Back”, is about a little girl living in Haiti. Her mother leaves to seek out a new home for them. Introducing the book and its topic, I gave a short spiel about Haiti, a topic about which I’m passionate. I told the kids that the inhabitants of Haiti, which is on an island not far from the US, are very poor.

At that point, one child hesitantly raised his hand. Delighted that this child was sufficiently engaged to ask a question, I stopped my presentation to hear his query. To my amazement, he asked,

“What’s poor?”

I was dumbfounded. Maybe my expectations were too high but I assumed, even at that tender age, the concept of poverty would be understood. I gave as good an answer to his sincere and reasonable question as I could muster at the time but, in retrospect, I think I could have done better.

I’m not sure what the child’s puzzlement says about him, his upbringing, his community (an affluent one), his school, or our society but I was troubled at the time and I remain so.

I can’t even tell you why.