While in the classroom as a teacher, I traveled on my breaks. From the skyscrapers in New York to the deserts in Arizona, I jetsetted my way through the country exploring life and truly living in each moment. Sometimes, while in deep thought, I lamented about the children in underserved communities and the restrictions of poverty. The lack of resources prevents most children from experiencing life through the lens of other cultures. Thus, this limitation places a myopia on viewpoints and stifles authentic learning stemming from just interacting in the world.
Learning by living
Long ago, as I marveled at the Statue of Liberty for the first time, I became in awe of its magnificence as it reflected back to me an expression of hope. A while later, I ruminated upon how I discovered myself through travel with my family. Having the ability to travel and to experience the sensations of the world provided me with an education beyond school walls or pages in a book. Sights, smells, and sounds accentuate the experiences of the unknown and brings them into a new light. Not to mention touches and tastes, if they are available. When I thought of how many of my students live in underserved communities, a sadness fell upon me as I recognized the restrictions of poverty beyond the obvious.
In plain terms, the majority of families I worked with in schools grappled with having their basic needs being met. They languish on a daily basis barely able to afford life, much less travel to different parts of the world. So many of them have never even crossed over the Mississippi River bridge to visit Downtown New Orleans. Restriction to blocks in the community constrains their perspectives and compels them to rely on others’ accounts of the city. When you listen to others’ viewpoints without the ability to form your own opinion firsthand, you see things through their filtered perspective rather than garnering your own. Their thoughts become your thoughts.
Living in a nightmare
Moreover, the restrictions of poverty impact belief structures about money, manifestation, and creation. When everything around you appears dismal, dilapidated, and depressing, finding the light feels elusive and unattainable to so many who live in darkness. As a result of my years in K-12 schools, I realized that oversimplification by others about of the law of attraction to change circumstances creates separation, disconnection, and judgment.
Despite the misconception propagated of the ease of manifesting abundance and prosperity, many people remain stagnant in their situations for the majority of their lives. Climbing out of the depths of their barrenness seems improbable and impossible. Therefore, not manifesting anything extraordinary to lift them out of their situations may be the harsh reality. And yet, continuous images, stories, and accounts of how effortless it is to change your circumstances creates a disheartening illusion and may fuel resentment and envy.
In essence, pictures and captions on social media depict the upside of manifestation and reduce manifesting to a simple step one, two, three formula. Yet, when immersed in lack, you naturally become saturated in thoughts about what you don’t have. As a result, emanating this vibration will attract a person, situation, or thing in your life that mirrors those feelings of lack. How can people rise above the restrictions of poverty when they don’t feel it is possible while attracting more of what they don’t want?
For over two decades, I spent my career in the K-12 schools serving my community and families. When I first became a part of the school system, I felt shocked and dismayed when I entered school buildings. Unless you attended school in a dilapidated building adorned with mold, decay, and rust, when you picture a school in your mind, these sights aren’t what you visualize when you think of a school. A school most likely appears as a warm, beautiful inviting dwelling that houses welcoming teachers and all of the comforts imaginable.
Honestly, school represented happiness, fun, and security for me. To my advantage, I grew up in a beautiful neighborhood adorned with the endless possibilities that lush trees, manicured lawns, and freshly-planted flowers bring. This invitation to a magnificent world extended from my home to my school, which is housed in a majestic renovated mansion in Uptown New Orleans. Every day of my tenure in K-12, teachers reinforced my aspirations to be a well-adjusted, productive adult by bestowing their joyousness upon my classmates and me while teaching us through various projects, experiences, and books. Accordingly, I graduated with a strong foundation rooted in curiosity, critical thinking, and writing, which afforded me the opportunity to be an effective and confident teacher.
As time elapsed in my career and my position changed in the school system, I had mobility in my schedule and the ability to visit over 80 schools in my area. Besides a few state-of-the-art buildings erected after Katrina, the buildings that I worked in illuminated sentiments of neglect and apathy. Consequently, the restrictions of poverty arched from the students’ homes, through the streets, and dead-ended at their schools.
When I began teaching in public schools in underserved communities, people asked me a plethora of questions that revealed their inability to truly comprehend the restrictions of poverty. I know I didn’t understand until I actually experienced it. One of the most common questions asked to me: “If the students listened and paid attention at school, wouldn’t they learn and be able to get out of poverty?”
Pondering life on the other side
Think about it. You never know what something is really like until you live it. How would you feel in a sea swimming around in seaweed mired down in unconcern and feeling forgotten? Furthermore, when you don’t have your basic needs met, it is hard to see past the moment and focus on creating a future. Read more about the importance of fundamental human needs here: https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
In an effort to invest in schools, many educators and policy makers have created systems, programs, and practices to transform schools. Some of them even go so far as to focus on your mindset and how you view the world to shape these changes. Unfortunately, we don’t filter those methods to students in a systematic way. As a result, students do not truly believe that they can overcome their circumstances. Children need to believe that they can survive and overcome. If not, they will develop victim consciousness and never see their inherent power. Read more about creator versus victim consciousness here: https://tracinicolesmith.com/are-you-a-creator-or-a-victim/
Creating your best life
If you oversimplify poverty and the heavy lifting it takes to overpower its effects, you create subtle separation of “us” versus “them.” Although it is hard to imagine what it is like to not know where you next meal is coming from, it is a reality that so many families face every day. Furthermore, this lack of perspective separates can morph into judgement and ultimately disconnection. In order to fulfill our soul path, we must learn and understand about ourselves and others to truly benefit from incarnating into a human body.
We are here to observe, process, feel, and heal this planet. It starts by trying to understand the restrictions of poverty and figuring out how you can contribute to creating a more equitable and just world. It starts within.