We're poor here in the Valley. The county we live in, Merced, is poor. Still, most of us don't technically qualify under today's poverty yardstick - a family of four, including two kids, making less than $22,000 a year.
But because, as the Bible said, you always have the poor with you ... and because, as the poet said, no man is an island, apart from the main ... and because most Mercedians are good people at heart ... For all those reasons, whatever our income, we're poor. We're poor because some of us - nearly one in five - are poor.
Today the Sun-Star begins a five-part series on poverty. The Sun-Star believes most of our community's serious problems come from poverty. You can argue the other way around, sure, but we think poverty is more the cause than the effect of our problems. We believe that if, as a community, we do something concrete and constructive to deal with poverty, some of our other problems will diminish, or even disappear.
We'll approach these problems as storytellers. The narratives of the poor and those escaping poverty will serve as your windows into a side of life you may not know much about - but which affects us all.
And, when we as reporters and photographers and editors have told you all these stories - in print, photographs and with video on our Web site - we hope you understand better the issue of poverty in Merced. And we hope that you will be moved to do something about it. Another poet said, I am a part of all that I have met. Whether you're rich, poor or, like most of us, somewhere in between, we want you to meet some of your poor neighbors. Maybe they'll become just a little part of you. And maybe you of them. And maybe together - the Sun-Star and the community of Merced - we can figure a way out of this.
The Sun-Star welcomes and needs your thoughts and ideas. All of Merced does.