Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Who, being loved, is poor?

Oscar Wilde said that, and I concur!

"Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn't commit"
- Eli Khamarov

It's Blog Action Day 08 and the topic is Poverty. Not too many people are comfortable talking about poverty. Like an iceberg, we know it exists because we see some form of it in everyday life, but there are just too many undiscussables beneath the surface. We don't like to look too long at poor people, especially children. Sometimes we have the audacity to walk the other way when someone we know who is hurting approaches us. A Japanese proverb reads "In wealth, many friends; in poverty, not even relatives." I have to admit, I'm a little uncomfortable too because this subject almost always leads to politics and I don't believe our government or any government for that matter, really has the power to address it. We muss so many things up. We spend so much on things that have so little return. I'll share my thoughts, minus whatever political judgments I may have on the subject. Or at least I'll try.

"Laziness travels so slowly that poverty soon overtakes him"
- Benjamin Franklin
I find it kind of odd that poverty is so offensive to many people, as if the poor always had a choice in the matter. Personally, I find complacency more revolting. You know what I'm talking about, the person with the "hand out" mentality that believes he is entitled to free everything and takes no personal responsibility to improve his standard of life.

"We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty" - Mother Teresa
There is no magic bullet solution for poverty, and there are oh so many forms of it. The neediest people in our world today are suffering from more than financial hardship. Affluenza has left many family in ruins without having to physically tear them apart. Lots of children suffer from the "buy me" syndrome, pre-cursor to full blown affluenza. They grow up to be "help me" adults who need weekly dollaralysis treatment. Meanwhile, their literally poor parents die a slow financial death trying to keep up with what every other kid's parents bought them. Speaking of emotions, low EQ has contributed to the breakdown of relationships, desensitization to violence, even road rage. I'm willing to bet we have low social E.Q. When was the last time you paid it forward? We're just not investing interpersonally or intra-personally anymore. We just don't care about anything other than the pursuit of more. It's sad really.

"Women do two thirds of the world's work. Yet they earn only one tenth of the world's income and own less than one percent of the world's property. They are among the poorest of the world's poor." - Barber B. Conable Jr.
It isn't always that way, sometimes bad things happen to good people. Er, mediocre people even - people who prepare. Groucho Marx said "I worked my way up from nothing to an extreme state of poverty." I remember the day I decided that I wanted to pursue higher education. It was the first time I experienced heartbreak. I vowed that I would never be the woman who got left wondering what hit her after she'd decided she was going to let love and faith guide her life. Sixteen years later it seems to be a disadvantage to be able to support my own children. The message I seem to be getting is that women who divorce stand a better chance at getting adequate child support if they remain destitute and uneducated. Divorce is a mathematical war for which women are not well equipped.

This poverty post is getting long and I've no more quotes to share, but I do have remnants of ideas I think will help. Notice how I don't dare to call them solutions. If we waged a war on poverty, what would our weapons look like?

1. An educational revolution - a pre-requisite to an economic revival. Why? It builds a skilled labor pool. The money we spend teaching our Kindergarten students to read will pay dividends when they are running our social security administration and providing medical care for our loved ones, for ourselves. Over half of the students at my school are eligible for free and reduced meals. If we do our job right, my hope will be that these same children will not qualify for food stamps, low income housing; but rather that they will be paving the way for social reform.
2. A skilled work force - good customer service and skilled labor begets a good profit margin and a booming economy. We are preparing today's students for jobs that don't even exist. The success of our economic endeavors depends on whether or not we can build a literate and techno-literate pool of employees.
3. Family-centered nurturing environment- Investors need to know that they can build their livelihood somewhere without having to leave their families behind. What businesses do we attract? What businesses do we support? What incentives are here for sustainable growth in our economy? If you were an investor would you settle here with your family? Families buy or rent homes, groceries, pay tuition, play, grow and plant roots where they can be nourished. Strong families also contribute to high collective E.Q. and they help to eradicate the disastrous effects of Affluenza.
4. Effective Rehabilitative and Empowerment Programs - Too much to say here, but basically we need programs that do more than just hand out short term band aids. We need to empower people to take charge and take back their lives. Our government cannot afford to turn away from the downtrodden. We need qualified mental health professionals to address the harmful effects of family violence, substance abuse, etc. It's time to remove the negative stigma associated with therapy and rehab. We need to think of mental health care as the glasses to our social astigmatism. I have a dream about a non-profit organization that teaches women how to "get back on their feet". That's what happens after you fall flat on your face after being swept off your feet. Bit of humor there. I'm kidding. It is basically a place where women can go to learn how to do things for themselves after a crisis. Things like putting a resume together, filling out job applications, professional demeanor, interviewing and more. Since I still own the rights to this idea, I'll just ask my professional woman friends if they want to help. If you do, call me!

Too much to say on poverty I'm afraid I'll miss Blog Action Day altogether. Since this is hastily written, I'll have to wait til all the children are in b before I go back to read/edit this. Peace.

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1 comment:

Saipan Writer said...

I'm sorry I didn't get to read this earlier.

I never thought of considering poverty absent politics.

Interesting post.