There's always going to be bad stuff out there. But here's the amazing thing -- light trumps darkness, every time. You stick a candle into the dark, but you can't stick the dark into the light. Jodi Picoult
We lit a lot of candles yesterday at the YWCA and Action to End Poverty conference -- Dream no Little Dreams.
We lit up a lot of darkness.
"What am I doing to contribute to someone else's poverty?"
To highlight my question, I shared my belief it was important for me to tip servers more than I would have in the past. "I give a minimum of 20%, especially if it's a restaurant where alcohol is served."
"But you're letting the government off the hook," said one of our group. "They made the decision to make minimum wage for servers less than for others. Why should you pay for it?"
"Because it's 'my bad'." I replied. "When the government brought in legislation that increased minimum wage to $9.40 for all employees except those who serve liquor, where they set the minimum wage at $9.05, I did not speak up. I did not write, phone, email my government representative. I did nothing. I figure I need to pay for my mistake -- and I need to speak up! Now."
And there's a bigger question attached.
Why do we have a minimum wage of $9.40 ($9.05 if you serve alcohol) when the 'living wage' in our city is...
Seriously? Why do we have a legislated minimum wage that keeps people in poverty? And why am I doing nothing about it?
Heck, even at $12.50 you can't really afford to live in this city. And dreams of owning your own home? Taking a vacation? Buy your children Christmas gifts? I don't think so.
We contribute to other people's poverty everyday. From not tipping, to paying the handyman below living wage, to supporting company's that do not pay a living wage, we are contributors to other people's poverty.
It was a great day yesterday at the conference. Lots of inspiring people, great information and a sense of purpose. As one of the speakers said, we can 'abolish' poverty. "Imagine," he said. "If when the abolitionists took action they had said, 'we're going to start with the goal to decrease slavery by 25%'."
It was a day of dreaming big dreams. Of casting ideas and creating a net to catch them and carrying them out of the seas of possibility into the clarity of a dream that says, YES! we can end poverty. We must. We will.