Tuesday, August 25, 2009

What is poverty?

I had a very interesting conversation today. I had to explain to someone what poverty is. The conversation made me pause because it dawned on me that people may on one hand understand and perhaps even accept the space they are in but they may not define themselves the same way the larger population does.

How do you define poverty? Is it a state of being or a state of mind?

I would initially have said a state of being because people have 'pulled themselves out of poverty' by recognizing their situation and refusing to stay in it.

Then there are others who may simply accept where they are as being impoverished and feel helpless to the forces around them that they are unable to find a way forward. I read a very touching story about a woman who dreamed big and slowly but surely found a way to make her dreams a reality. The African woman featured was part of a larger story which looked the millions of women who are subjected to unspeakable cruelty in developing countries. Many women never find a way out but others, one step at a time dig their way out of the space they are in.

I am learning that you don't have to be defined by the space you are presently in but you can define how you see your environment and therefore define how you wish to see the world. We can each resist and ignore the label(s) put on us by society and happily define ourselves by our own standards and view of reality.

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