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So what if you ‘love’ the poor?

Published:Tuesday | November 25, 2014 | 12:00 AM

So what if you ‘love’ the poor?


Both Portia Simpson Miller and Andrew Holness are excited that their roots have emerged from poverty. They have declared their undying love for the poor. They love them more than cook food, as we say in Jamaica, and have vowed to emancipate them from this scourge.

However, can the poor trust anyone anymore? Recently, the former stridently defended her integrity in Parliament, while the latter declared at conference that “I am not a liar.”

I am suggesting that these leaders – and many before them – have taken unto themselves a role larger than messianic proportions when making such promises. Generally speaking, have the poor been liberated? Not by any stretch of the imagination!

We have only moved, somewhat, from physical bondage to a more subtle type of economic slavery in Jamaica and around the world. That is why CEO salaries are on the increase even in recession, while for the poor, wages are on the decrease and unemployment is on the increase.

This claim, by politicians, church leaders and the mercantile class, to love the poor, amounts to nothing but an opiate – to keep them in mental slavery.

In the world’s largest economy, we currently see man’s injustice to man being played out on prime time daily. President Obama is fighting an uphill battle he will never win. At the root of immigration reform is economic justice for the poor. The former strangers and pilgrims have become so rich that they are using the power of wealth to keep the more recent strangers and pilgrims in an undocumented state so that their business can employ them, pay them less than minimum wage, with no health insurance coverage, no status, therefore, in poverty with no bargaining power.

Sadly, I say, that is the true state of affairs of Jamaica and the world. Now hear the words of the Lord, you poor of the world. This instruction, interestingly, is the middle text of the Bible. “It is better to trust in the Lord, than to put confidence in man”. (Psalm 118: 8)