Ending poverty

Problems of the society: poverty

Why does poverty exist? How may it be ended? These questions already existed since groups of individuals started living together in a particular area, and engage in daily dealings necessary to sustain life, thus forming what we now call societies. The former question has already been answered by economists and experts on that field. Yet, the former remains elusive to be given light and would probably impossible to attain.

To visit a poverty-stricken is to talk with hardship personified. One is given a picture wherein certain families sometimes live with only one meal eaten for a day, enough to sustain their bodies for a day of labor and toil. Children roam and play around in ragged and soiled clothes while you can see perforated wood-layered houses with patched roofs that, when it rains, you may be led to think that these will cave in. The older ones go about their activities in order to earn a dollar or two to put food on the table, and put smiles on the faces of those gathered around.

Statistics say that this kind of area is a breeding ground of criminals and menaces to the society. If one believes in this, he or she is just looking at a small portion of a very big and abstract picture. Stealing is a sin even if one's intention is to satisfy his and his family's hunger which rages inside their stomachs; but is it not a sin also that other people turn their eyes away from a woman sitting on a street corner's pavement, a little girl shedding tears in tow, begging for alms?

Poverty is not a reason but rather a result of man's apathy towards his fellow human being's distress. We dare spend lavishly for material things and eat 100-dollar meals in a fancy restaurant yet refuse to hand over a penny for someone who hasn't eaten for two days in a row. We harshly persecute a man caught stealing a single loaf of bread, yet venerate business tycoons who made their fortunes from illicit sources.

As we can see, poverty is not the cause of the entire world's troubles but rather resulted from the world's madness and arrogance.

But it is said that man doesn't live by bread alone. For all the world's richness and wealth, bliss is not a one-million dollar shopping mall item which can be bought at the whim of a single credit card transaction. One can observe that the majority of those living in poverty, in spite of the hard facts of life being thrown at them, live a carefree life far away from the troubles and problems that plague a chief executive officer of a multinational corporation or one drowning in his richness. It is amazing to see that they still laugh and smile despite their predicament, almost to the point that one can deduce that they scoff at hardship itself. After the sun starts to slumber beneath the shade of the horizon, these poor individuals gather within the warmth of a fireplace and trade calming stories, or just sit in silence and stare at the dancing flames knowing that they are within the comfort provided by family members and friends. A man may be rich in material wealth, yet true richness is not measured in monetary terms but by the efforts made to lighten and share another man's burden.

Back at the slum area, a little child walks aimlessly on a muddy footpath towing with him a little toy truck with the front wheels already gone. He tows this with a little smile on his face, oblivious to the fact that I am observing him. It is very calming to see him this way, living peacefully in world of hardships, turmoil and poverty among all others. Ah! A sight like this may make a man wish to surrender a year of his hard-earned life experiences in exchange for a day of innocence and respite from life's struggles.

I see a woman, her hair untied, and wearing a simple and ruffled worn-out dress. Her eye bags apparent, from long hours of working in a cafeteria, behind her thinly-applied face powder. She knocks on a door. In a moment, a five-year old unlocks it and immediately hugs her, while she carefully takes a wrapped slice of pizza from her pocket and gives it to him. After giving her a thank you with the smile of a cherub, the little child goes back into the house, her mother remains at the front door and casts a serene kind of smile and her eyes shed a drop or two of happy tears. Money really can not buy happiness. A person may work hard into the deep hours of the night in his office and eventually will earn a hefty sum of money as a salary, but he will lose on the priceless things of life such as eating together with his family during suppers or failing to see the beauty of the sun bidding farewell to the moon as it descends below the horizon to sleep.

Eradicating poverty may be a foolish objective as long as some people still take advantage over a person's illiteracy and weakness; as long as man still live with arrogance in his heart and evil machinations in his mind. Fighting the scourge of poverty may be very hard but a collective effort to end this may provide a catalyst to start the process. Society judges who is a poor man and defines what poverty is, but it is a biased who does its duty with contempt and apparent partiality favoring those who are well-off in life and condemning those who can not earn hefty sums of cash.

Poverty will never end if this standard continues; there will never be a time when all individuals will have an equal opportunity to earn an honest living as long as arrogance control other people's way of life. To end poverty is a utopian ideal which is a near impossibility as is taught to us by history itself.

Man will be content, not by the wads of cash his pocket contains, but by the way his fellow human being affords respect to him whatever his standing in life is. One is rich not because he can buy lots of valuable items but how he makes other people laugh and smile, not because his palms can grasp bundles of money enough to feed twenty families for a single day but by how he lends a hand in times of great suffering and distress. And neither is richness defined by how many cars one has or how large his house is but simply by how much love and respect he can show to his fellow men.

Richness doesn't have to be confined within monetary terms but in the context of what makes us human. With the right perspective, we are all rich.