Well, as I’ve been saying all week I am currently reading When Helping Hurts by Brian Fikkert and Steve Corbett. Actually, if I manage to stay on schedule, I should be finishing the book either today or Monday. It’s been an easy and enlightening read that I thoroughly suggest everyone pick up. However, today’s challenge I want to keep very simple. You all know the rules: I give you a philosophical question and you write me a 1000 word story that illustrates and defends your answer to that question. So, your question for today: What is poverty?
In considering your answer to the question consider that middle and upper class 1st world citizens (generally those who have the interest and means to do something about poverty) generally define it in terms of material wealth. They respond by saying things like poverty is not having enough, making under ‘$blank’ per year, needing food and clothing, or even generally ‘having unmet needs’. However, when poor people who daily experience poverty are asked to describe it their responses generally focus on the emotional. They respond by saying things like poverty is shame, fear for one’s life, daily anxiety, hopelessness, inferiority, always looking up at others, being stepped on, being voiceless, and not having any choices. Consider also that there are many different causes of poverty: we tend to focus on poverty as unmet material needs, and so we assume that throwing money at the problem will fix it. However, poverty can be caused by ignorance concerning how to effectively use what material goods are available, it can be caused by outside oppression (i.e. the forceful stripping from a people of what they do have), personal choices of the poor (i.e. I know what I should do, but I buy whiskey instead), a general lack of material goods (i.e. the economy sucks and there just isn’t enough to go around), or the lack of ability to acquire material goods (i.e. I have no useful skills so no one will hire me). If we attempt to provide material goods when the problem is actually ignorance or oppression, then we don’t actually do anything to effectively solve the problem.