Plato once claimed that poverty is not a decrease in our possessions, but an increase in our greed. As a middle class (have) individual this has a strong ring of truth to it. It speaks to the endless fascination with material success that is so prevalent in Western society. Yet, this statement also alerts me to a need for distinction with the term poverty. While I agree that our greed impoverishes us - poverty has many roots and causes. And the kind of poverty that is caused by greed is, in my opinion, more of a spiritual poverty than a material poverty.
This spiritual poverty is not necessarily synonymous with the inability to provide sustenance for ones family. Nor is it always indicative of an inability to "catch a break" socially that will allow your most basic needs to be met. The difference between spiritual and material poverty seems to describe the gulf between the haves and have nots - where the have nots often face destructive material poverty their concerns are grounded in the reality of putting food on the table not on having too little equity to buy a second car for purely convenience sake. Perhaps this is why I so appreciate the epistemological privilege that Liberation Theology offers to the poor? Indeed the real remedy for spiritual impoverishment must lie in the path of solidarity with the truly poor - that is the materially poor. In fact, dare I say, one can only climb out of spiritual poverty with the help of the materially poor - because the greed that offers only spiritual poverty can never be sated, and can never offer us freedom.
Food for thought.