I spent the day contemplating and reading my new wonderful book "Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism" by Thich Nhat Hanh.
The rich are rich because the poor are poor. Now it is not completely as simple as that, but in order to have that $10 t-shirt someone must be paid a meager wage. In order for me to be a social worker someone must be suffering. This is not to say that the rich or middle class are bad and the poor are good, or vice versa. It is also not to say that those with means purposely restrict those with out, (although some certainly do). It is simply to acknowledge that in order to have wealth someone/something pays; low salaries, environmental destruction etc.
And through this I believe we have a responsibility to reduce our negative footprint as much as possible. I think we can begin to accomplish this through being thankful, making informed decisions, and compassionate actions. How we consume, how we earn, how we invest, our words, our actions can all be helpful or hurtful.
"Suffering can have a therapeutic power. It can help us open our eyes. Awareness of suffering encourages us to search for its case, to find out what is going on within us and in society. But we have to be careful. Too much suffering can destroy our capacity to love. We have to know our limits, to stay in touch with things that are dreadful in life and also things that are wonderful." ("Interbeing" - Thich Nhat Hanh)