Sunday, January 28, 2007
west knows best
so i was just thinking, if we're all meant to coexist on this planet--and by we, i'm referring to the multitude of different cultures, races, sexes and species--why is it that some of these groups aren't thriving, why they're living in extreme poverty, their everyday life challenged by some unseen force?
i've concluded that it's because western peoples use their own above-standard values as the point of reference--a completely normal habit when judging the activities partaking in one's own back yard, but to the rest of the world? it's a bit arrogant considering our nation is one of the youngest--we don't have enough experience to accurately make these conclusions. but i digress.
to question whether or not these people are as 'dirt poor' as the western perspective deems them, we have to ask ourselves--what is poverty? what concrete conditions provide the ideals that cause the situation known as poverty? is poverty NOT having a 7,000 square foot house with a solid oak front door, marble countertops, subzero appliances and top-of-the-line berber carpeting? or is poverty not having a fully-stocked refrigerator and an absence of restaurant receipts littering our boudoir? or is poverty having less than $100 in your checking account at any given time?
these examples i've given all fall into three centric categories: material possessions, food, and money. and if a lack of one or all of them constitute poverty, then i'm up the fucking creek! i don't have a large house, an oak front door, marble countertops (they're granite), subzero appliances (ge), and my carpet is from pottery barn. there's rarely food in my fridge (who has time to eat at home?) and hello--anyone who's resigned to stridently follow their dream is well-versed in the woes caused by the lack of funds that accompanies happiness.
so am i povertial?? they say that nyc is exclusively for either the very rich or the very poor, and my bank of america account will gladly inform you to which end i invariably fall. however, what about people living in those nations that were around long before the bank of america, and new york city and subzero appliances? like romania. true, they've endured a government coup or two, and a generous portion of the population are gypsy (roma), and the people are all referred to as peasants, but they're really not that bad. would they prefer one of those ready-hot spigots at their sinks instead of gambling whether or not they'll have hot water that day? sure, and so would i, for that matter. are many of the denizens of romania even aware of the convenience such luxuries would afford? maybe, but they're concerned with other pressing matters--and i think we can all relate to that as well. just as we aspire to future wealth, such as houses, cars, wardrobes and burgeoning social lives in america, the scaled-down aspirations in a scaled-down economy can amount to a larger house, a car, a goat, what have you. and that doesn't mean that their aspirations are any less important than ours, or deserving of any pity, but instead it means that they're just different, and didn't our daily dose of childhood sesame street teach us that different is good?
are these people really as poor as we think? are they really living in poverty?
now you think about that.