Sunday, January 13, 2013

We Are All Poor by Alison Ross

We are all poor. All of us. Even the most affluent among us, whose wealth reaches ethereal proportions - even those people are poor. One may possess five luxury cars, two mansions - one on each coast - several domiciles in exotic locations, and all manner of Trump-like riches - and still, this person remains poor.

Not just poor in spirit, mind you, although the rich are often impoverished psychically, and spiritually. For that matter, so are many of us poor in spirit - all economic classes are subject to a degradation in spiritual fortune. And the presence of so many poor people certainly degrades everyone's spiritual health, even those untouched by fiscal poverty.

But we are, all of us, poor in myriad ways. On a planet sagging with the weight of seven billion people, a staggering three billion live on less than $2.50 a day, according to the website, Global Issues. And that is merely a statistic for extreme poverty - many more inhabit various degrees of poverty. According to that same site, 80% of the human population lives on less than $10 a day.
But really, any person who struggles each month to pay rent, bills, and feed themselves and their families - that person is poor. She or he may not technically be poor, according to economic "experts"  - but, rather, they are poor according to reality. Reality dictates that we are born having certain basic needs, such as food to sustain us, and clothing and shelter to protect us from the elements. When those needs are not met satisfactorily, not only can we not rise to meet higher intellectual needs, but our human rights are being viciously violated. For in an economically equitable world, hierarchies would not exist that ghettoize people into classes.

We are born into poverty, and we die impoverished. We are born naked, with nothing. And while we may die clothed, we must be stripped bare at some point in the post-death process. And even if we die "wealthy," we are buried or cremated sans material comforts. We are, all of us, poor.

Fiscally speaking, when someone amasses a large store of wealth or even a modest store of wealth, it is a defense against the poverty that they were born into. It is a fortress against the poverty innately affecting us all. Just because someone might be born into a family who is considered wealthy doesn't mean that a person is not born poor.

But besides being innately fiscally poor, and poor spiritually, we are also, all of us, poor in safety, poor in health both physical and mental, and poor in education. We are poor in trust, poor in peace, poor in imagination. Despite our economic class, and because of the prevalence of poverty, we are poor in all these ways and more.

In countries where extreme wealth disparities prevail, infant mortality rates escalate, health problems pervade, child well-being suffers, trust erodes, mental illness abounds, drug use is common, life expectancy is shorter, obesity is rampant, teenage birth rates rise, homicide rates soar, prison populations explode, educational quality deteriorates.

And imagination becomes obliterated. Imagination engenders creative compassion, but the domineering presence of poverty primitivizes us, stunting the growth of our artistic humaneness. 
We are innately rich in imagination - and yet, currently, we are, all of us, poor. 

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