Home Hiking boots Guest Columnist Reverend Ellen Petersen: The Spotless Truth: Poverty Is Ugly

Guest Columnist Reverend Ellen Petersen: The Spotless Truth: Poverty Is Ugly


Published: 08/01/2022 15:54:56

Modified: 08/01/2022 15:51:47

As I was trying to pass the time on my 27 hour trip to a country calling me to visit, I was intrigued by a passenger who was an aisle away from me.

I was fascinated by her because she looked so refreshed, so unoffbeat, so different from how I felt.

I kept looking at her, wondering how much time and effort she had to put into maintaining her outward appearance. Then I went deeper, pondering why she had done this, was it for herself or for the world?

I did a reading of his appearance. She had long pink fingernails, I mean very long. They matched her fingernails. I wondered how she could do anything with such long nails. She continued to watch them during the flight.

She was wearing high heels, I mean very high. Her clothes were clearly designer brand. She wore makeup, I mean a lot of makeup. Lipstick, eyeliner, mascara, blush. When we approached the landing, she took out her mirror and put on some more makeup. Then she sprayed perfume on her wrists.

When she got up to prepare to get off the plane, she took her carry-on. It was a Christian Dior bag. That’s when I thought to myself, “This woman is the opposite of me.”

I was wearing purple hiking boots, zippered travel pants, and a t-shirt. I looked and felt completely disheveled.

When I got up to prepare to get off the plane, I grabbed my carry-on – my LL Bean backpack.

Why am I thinking about this? Because I have to understand why Gambia seemed to be calling me for three years because after being there for 10 days it was a complete mystery to me.

This is where the polar opposite passenger comes in.

The Gambia is the opposite of what I expected. I expected a country that was beautiful, but in reality, The Gambia is far from beautiful. It is a country that does not make up. His complexion of poverty is evident. Its smell of pollution is sickening.

We humans prefer to see people and countries made up because it’s much more attractive. It’s prettier. He looks and smells better. We want to see people and countries looking refreshed, putting on their “best side” for the world to see.

But the reality of our world is that most people don’t live that way. It’s not pretty.

I need to stop spending so much energy on “why” I felt called to go and instead raise awareness of the reality that 9.2% of the world’s population – 689 million – people live in poverty. It’s the sad truth.

Reverend Ellen Petersen, of Easthampton, is pastor of Riverton Congregational Church, Riverton, Connecticut.