Eugene Y. Adiong

I have written a lot on the social reality of poverty, and how related issues are connected to this viscous cycle. Now, let me share with you a brief on a personal research on poverty, and how experts and writers view it.

At the outset, poverty “has been created for us by an irresponsible government [referring to the United States]; a government that puts far more money into death than into life; a government that sparks of a kinder gentler time then kills off its infants, women and elders . . .“ [James Jennings, Understanding the Nature of Poverty in Urban America, (Westport, CT: Praeger Press, 1994), 133.]

We see poverty in countries, where people are suffering from unfair trade systems. We graphically see poverty, where “desperate people are forced to accept bad working conditions with long hours, minimal pay and lack of benefits, all of which makes people tired, reduces their immunity and makes them susceptible to illness.” [Steve de Gruchy, “Sick world,” CWM InsideOut, August/September 2004, 22.]

At its simplest, poverty refers to a basic lack of the means of survival; the poor are those who, even in normal circumstances, are unable to feed and clothe themselves properly and risk death as a consequence. This description would probably attract universal recognition and assent. Moreover, such a situation would probably be seen as one, which should, if possible be rectified, although precisely how this should be done may be a matter of dispute. [John Dixon, Poverty: A Persistent Global Reality, David Macarov, ed., (London: Routledge, 1998).

Moreover, “In communities where jobs are scarce and many live in poverty, people have difficult time finding employment.” [ Melissa Browning, “Olive wood brings prosperity to CBF-backed microenterprise,” ABPnews.com (E-mail), 23 April 2008.].

There is a perspective on poverty which believes that it is a state of mind. This means that if one thinks in himself/herself that he/she is poor and helpless, then he/she shall remain so forever. Thus, to improve one’s economic lot, he/she should learn from successful people; and start thinking of ways to alleviate his/her economic status in life, instead of just watching soap operas on television.

On the other hand, “the sole pursuit of material development without spiritual and value-based goals has contributed to a widespread culture of violence.” [Maria Theresa Nera-Lauron, “The AR-WACC Pre-Assembly Seminar and Triennal Assembly: An Affirmation of Communicating for Peace and Life,” AR-WACC, June 2005, 2.] The situation creates unjust social relationships and tramples on the needs of the others.

Poverty, like any other socio-economic status, becomes the inner psyche of the person or group of persons. Powerlessness and hopelessness sculpt one’s inner psyche. We call this the internalization of a culture of poverty.

And with its all-pervasiveness presence, fatalism starves the membranes of one’s being of the oxygen of hope. [Charles Ringma, Whispers from the Edge of Eternity: Reflections on the Life and Faith in A Precarious World, (Manila, Philippines: OMF Literature, 2005), 59]. Bernard Malamud as well writes, “If you’ve had nothing, you’re afraid of too much.” [Berdard Malamud, as quoted by Ringma, Whispers from the Edge of Eternity, 59.].

Poverty impacts humanity miserably; it breaks the person’s spirit! “The reasonable inference arises that even though blacks are not genetically inferior, science proves them to be so damaged by racism and poverty that they are inferior now. [George Gilder, Wealth & Poverty, (San Francisco: KS Press, 1993), 75].

Poverty can be isolating, separating the people who live in it from the kind of networking relationship that would help them get needed resources. A hungry, hopeless world is looking for someone, who would bear healing and justice to every corner of our planet.

What ills the society is the fact that people want selective transformation. This renders a compartmentalized transformation where they receive transformation that they wanted and disregard those whom they do not like. It follows that these people determine the outcome of transformation according to what pleases them. This makes a reality of domesticated transformation.

Progress and development means people living better lives. We should speak out for fairness and be ready for hostility that follows. Economic growth is not only a quantitative measure but also a measure how such vaunted statistics impact on the majority; on how it raises their quality of life.

(Reactions are welcome at gene_30_love@yahoo.com)

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