Sometimes there are just things that we cannot understand. I have found myself feeling that way more often than not. This may not be the most understandable position to take when dealing with the effects of poverty on individuals but it is hard for me to wrap my logic around why so many people are struggling with poverty. I know that there are so many reasons why poverty happens, from society to personal. I try to think of ways to solve the problem, that is when I realize that there is not just one problem. How can you solve a problem that has so many aspects? It is disheartening; maybe there is no solution.
But I can at least be part of a solution; anyone can be if they choose. Awareness is the first step, but what I have come to realize is that awareness takes time. We are all aware that poverty exists, but what we need is a deeper awareness. A deeper awareness to me is a type of understanding that brings every aspect of the problem together to show you the big picture. After three months I am beginning to see the bigger picture, but that is after countless years of prior awareness. Now, I am learning, experiencing and gathering. I am learning about the factors that can cause poverty, how each one is unique and influential. I am experiencing my conceptions and grasp of the world around me shift. I am gathering the information needed to have awareness and be able to help combat the problem. I have had the tools to be aware all along. However, I am only now starting to use those tools.
Setting up the clinic has been vital to my learning experience. You can only go so far on your own. Everything I have read for class has expanded my ability to understand what I will be working toward in the clinic. I will be making a change. Although each change will be a small step and maybe only one step in the right direction, to the person I am helping, it could mean survival. Survival, this is something I have never had to fight for. But individuals living in poverty have to fight for survival everyday. One wrong decision could lead to a downward spiral of negative consequences and struggle. It is hard to imagine one decision that could create such a response. It is especially hard to imagine when that one decision can be something simple like paying rent or eating dinner. Those decisions are things that an average American would not have to make, but individuals in poverty deal with those decisions everyday.
Decisions that should be made easier through change to the way our society handles these problems. Make things simpler. Make things easier. I don’t feel strongly either way about governmental aid; I see positives and negatives to both sides. What I do feel is that our society already has programs in place that give aid and if they are in place they should be utilized to better the lives of others. Often, the only need, which creates the ability to survive, is one thing. What I have learned is that one act, one thing, one decision can make a difference or can be the undoing of everything. I do not know why that is what has stuck with me, but it has made a huge impact on my perception of poverty.
I think of the family who does not know about a resource, so they do not receive that one thing is the difference. That is what makes this clinic stand out to me. We could provide assistance to those who need that one thing that is the difference. We could be the difference in someone’s life. I want to be that difference. I am excited for the clinic to start making a difference and an impact on the community surrounding it. What this class has taught me is that we can help. We can make the difference that is needed and affect the lives of those who need help the most. Isn’t that what being a lawyer is about? Advocating for those who need it? Who needs it more than someone in poverty, where only one act can be the difference between survival and losing it all?
I will take what I have learned with me into my practice of law. I will hopefully be a better listener, more understanding and most importantly a trusted advocate. I understand why we need to learn about all aspects that create poverty. We need to not only be able to pick them out so we can help solve the problems they cause but we also need to understand them so we understand our client. I now have a better understanding of my potential clients through this experience. It has been a great learning experience, and will hopefully make me a better advocate.