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October 15, 2008

How Do You Define Poverty?

Today is Blog Action Day where a whole bunch of bloggers write on the same topic and this year's topic happens to be poverty.

In some ways it seems pretty inane like a lot of what gets written about on my blog daily. Who cares? Just a bunch of words about poverty. How is that going to matter? Really?

The idea is to write about anything that matters to you or means something to you in relation to poverty. And, some people are doing some very concrete things to contribute cash to specific causes. I'm not. I'm a little short on cash at the moment. But, do I feel poor? No. Not at all.

So what I wanted to write about right now that rings true to me is about how we have become so short-sighted and in the grasp of an economic system that doesn't appear to work for anyone but the richest of the richest (and not even them right now - or perhaps especially not them right now) that we've forgotten that it's possible to define poverty in ways that have absolutely nothing to do with money.

And I guess if you think about Maslow's Hierarchy of Need then it's not possible to think about the word poverty without thinking about money first because until you have food and shelter sorted out then you can't even begin to think about other areas of your life. Your days are about survival. And, as a result your human spirit is robbed on a daily basis of any form of joy because it is usurped by worry and need and you haven't got a hope of hell of being the best person you could be. You are as far from self-actualization as it gets.

But poverty can be so many things: It can be addiction. A lack of love. Fear. A lack of friendships. A lack of compassion. A lack of belief in self. An inability to forgive. It can be a life completely out of balance and focused on one area at the expense of all others. It can be homophobia. Racism. Mysogyny. Physical illness. It can be ignorance.

But, because we live in a world of tangibles, I'll say it again because I've said it before. If you live in North America and you currently are not in the habit of donating either your time or a portion of money to some specific cause that matters to you then you need to really ask yourself why not? Why are you living your life from a place of scarcity thinking that you don't have enough?

If you were really honest with yourself you would know that the belief that you don't have enough is a lie that has arisen because you have become short sighted in how you define wealth. Because, let's face it, in the end, we're all on a journey that will force us to give up even the clothes on our backs. It's called death.

Less is more!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I've never looked at that hierarchy of need before - very interesting. That explains a lot in my life. I'm apparently working off some other shape altogether that has way too many sides and too many points.