Invisible Poverty

“Posted on March 14, 2011 by peterderemigis”
April 29, 2013

…Fama di loro il mondo esser non lassa,
misericordia e giustizia gli sdegna:
non ragionian di lor, ma guarda e passa.”…Inferno; Canto III,line.49

Most of what people know about society arrives through the various news vehicles such as TV, free newspapers and to a diminishing extent radio. All of these media seem to repeat the same features all day long and sometimes all week long, and most of these feature facts seem to be based on reports of other journalists or expert studies.

Consequently information about poverty is conveyed in references to abstract studies or in feature stories based on information of experts or interviews of those considered to be disadvantaged. Scarcely does this information about poverty seem to arise from any one’s immediate experience. No one seems to have witnessed the life of the poor in the places where the poor seem most real: on Toronto’s downtown streets where the poor have been sleeping since the late 1970′s, or standing in rush hour crowds that struggle onto the subway, buses and streetcars. And no one reporting about the poor seems to live among the poor in apartment towers or houses in not so desirable real estate areas where even public schools seem underfunded compared to schools in more affluent districts. And of course one might assume that the poor do not comprise the intellectual milieu of those who now and then publicise information about poverty.

Come with me on the TTC
Side by side with Toronto’s community
Of faces you’ll rarely see in the paper news or on TV
Except for a morning birthday, maybe
In the shimmering light smiling bright
From behind gate-like shadows
unseen beyond the line
Of artificial night;

Yet every day here on the TTC
To work and back or searching to survive
Pounding pavements.
Watching for trains, or a bus in rain sometimes
Ready To jostle, block, to climb up
Into the light

A feat not seen
Riding the road and free beside the TTC.