Reverend Andrew Schmidt.
Reverend Andrew Schmidt. Contributed

OPINION: Poverty is the problem, not the poor

MANY people are very excited to get back to 'normal' as the government makes the decision to relax some of the restrictions imposed in order to help reduce the impact of Covid-19.

Leading a small church community, where many of our parishioners have been excited to take part in the limited opening we have been offering, I can understand that excitement.

Having seen the media reports from other countries which have experienced huge numbers of cases, and of deaths, I can understand the concerns that people have about opening up too soon.

It is not often I sympathise with politicians, but in this case, I certainly do.

One of the things that I have heard is that the debate is being framed as about the good of the economy being balanced against people's lives.

I have two particular concerns with the conversation being framed this way.

The first is that it creates a false distinction between the economy and the people.

The economy is just the way we talk about moving money around, it does not exist separate from human beings.

It also paints a picture of a few people getting wealthier out of opening up, rather than recognising that in many respects' poverty is a greater killer than any other single factor.

A few weeks ago one of our intercessors (the people leading prayer), in the prayers spoke about the hope that the hurts in society that had been revealed by the virus would not be covered over again, but would rather be treated and healed.

Many of the poor are poor because it is easier for our society to have a class of people who are impoverished, perhaps this crises might be a start to shifting our society towards one that sees poverty as a problem to be treated, and not the poor as a problem to be removed.

• Andrew Schmidt is the priest at Good Sherpherd Anglican Church.