Do you have to be poor to work for the poor?

This morning, a friend and colleague posted on Facebook about some of the tensions he experiences as a community activist. Without posting the exact status, his words hinted to multiple issues in social justice work: making enough money, having enough influence, working too many hours, etc.

In response to this, I posted this excerpt from Carmel’s McConnell’s book.

As an activist in my twenties I believed for a long time that having cash was an inherently bad thing. That I couldn’t justify having personal comfort in terms of a nice place to live, or decent clothes while others lived in poverty. My duty – I thought – was to change the world and that could be done only while wearing clothes from thrift stores and jumble sales.

Then I read something about how your duty is to help the poor, not join them in their poverty. And it struck me that the time I was spending just trying to survive was time that I could be using more effectively to make changes in the world. So I changed how I thought about earning a good wage and got a great job… and, suddenly, I was able to do loads more… I found that by thinking different thoughts about money I was able to go from being poor and angry to tired to being relatively rich and calm and only tired because I chose to work hard on something that matters… And the best thing is by working from the heart and being passionate about social change and business success I’ve deposited both hard cash and moral dollars.

Spiritual and material enrichment.

– Change Activist: make big things happen fast by Carmel McConnell.

A penny for your thoughts? Would love to have some dialogue on this via my blog comments!

Photo by Tyheem Uno.