Using Awareness to Beat Poverty and Hardship

Nobody Willingly Picks Not Having The Necessities of Life

I see a lot of theorizing and philosophizing about why a person would pick a life of poverty around the web. To me, the answer is clear, nobody “picks” being poor, but once you are on this planet, you are subject to the caprice of your fellow men, who, by their relation to the planet and the resources on it, generate poverty.You can almost bet that anywhere you see extreme poverty there is another area that is extremely wealthy. You can equally bet the extremely wealthy are going to be scared of losing that wealth, and will do everything in their power to hold on to it. Depending on the other prevailing factors in your path, you may or may not be naturally disposed to overcoming that with which you are faced.

It’s Personal Story Hour, Kids

When I was youngster and in elementary school, we were one day greeted by a new music teacher. Our former music teacher was fairly tame and would come around the classrooms playing her various records. This chick, though, was on some kind of mission, because she had some Tina-Turner-looking hair, and wanted us to dance and sing with these ribbon-banner things. I had already become accustomed to the other lady not really “pushing” music but more exposing us to music, and this chick was mostly annoying to me because she was insistent that I sing. I didn’t, and she wrote a note home along with docking my grade for “not singing”. One of the songs she decided was a good one for elementary school students was Phil Collin’s upbeat little ditty called “Another Day in Paradise.” Here’s a link to the video. Here’s a link to just the lyrics. I remember at the time feeling like this song was immensely sad although I didn’t understand all the ins and outs concerning what it meant. The more I figured it out, the more I was baffled how this could really be an issue. How could people let other people suffer so much? I didn’t know it, but whatever this weird poverty awareness was that I had early on was just beginning to germinate.

Things I Never Said But Thought Growing Up

My own home life was not peachy. I had an appreciation for suffering. However, in my mind, it somehow made sense–sure there were less than good things going on– but people still took care of one another. Overlooking the random physical abuse, when the smoke cleared, at least there seemed to be an actual caring about one another. In hindsight, this was more what I was wishing were the case, and wasn’t at all the actuality of the situation. I suspect my psyche would not have coped well with the truth.

Furthermore, I began to notice divisions among people. Some lived in small houses like mine, while other people lived in larger houses. Often the people who lived in larger houses had more stuff like computers and games. A slow realization began to creep into my mind that the world of adults had succeeded in dividing up reality such that everyone did not have an equal claim to fundamental wants and needs. One of the more frightening ramifications was not having enough basic resources to live. I had thought that no one would ever deny someone else these essentials. To do so would be unthinkable. To do so would be inhumane.

Caged Animal

Inhumanity: The Biggest Hint

Getting Older and Wiser

As I got older, my own skills began to become apparent. My own weaknesses were evident as well. I had never been abundantly healthy. However, there was some comfort in that I knew I could learn pretty swiftly, and had little trouble digesting most academic matters. I could feel the pressure of having to pick some vocation closing in, but I knew I was coming out of the starting gate with a considerable handicap when it came to physical stamina. I reasoned that I needed to find myself a career that would allow me to work more mentally than physically. Since I had some talent academically, I didn’t think I’d have any trouble there.

It Isn’t About Talent

Talent is handy, but what you have to have in addition to talent in life if you want to develop your talent to fruition are resources. You get those chiefly by working, or being recognized. Somewhere around my sophomore year in high school, I came down with some disease that was mono-like that damn near killed me. I wasn’t the healthiest specimen anyway, but this crap did something special. It made me more lethargic than I had been in the past. I missed something like a month-and-a-half of school. That certainly didn’t help my GPA or workload. It didn’t improve matters much when it became necessary to move my junior year on account of divorces.

Off To College

By the time I got to college, I was supposed to be able to select some major I had vague interest in and settle into it to get a degree to obtain a job so that the cycle of “how society is stratified” could be completed. I really didn’t care much for how college was composed. Academics is best studied like a buffet–you take a little of this and a little of that and you see if something really grabs your taste buds. If it does, you come back for seconds, thirds, fourths, and cultivate a love of learning in the process. Once again, when my sophomore year hit, I became sick. This time something a lot like chronic fatigue set in with a mixture of fibromyalgia.

Having Conditions Nobody Else Has

When you have a condition nobody else has, you have a dual existence. Normal people expect you to be normal, which you aren’t. Not every day is equal to any other day. Some days you can concentrate, and some days you can’t worth a damn. This all works out fine as long as you know how much gas or brake to give yourself. Once you enter the working world, though, things change.

Work, Health, Money, or Poverty

The working world has immense ignorance concerning conditions like Chronic Fatigue. It is nearly impossible to keep a consistent job when everything and everyone has gone work crazy. The fanatic pace just can’t be maintained. You get a choice between either having some health, or some money. Not both.

I Am The Poor, In Disguise

After having fallen through just about every imaginable crack, I can safely say that I am, for all practical purposes, poor. My family isn’t, but neither are they rich. I haven’t found a job that would allow me to make money without also killing myself in the process. I’m not so disabled that I can’t do anything, but I’m not so enabled that I can do just anything either. I don’t have health insurance, or dental insurance. Just the other day, one of my molars cracked and broke for no reason. (My teeth have never been my strong suit) It’s pretty scary being in a position where you are one health crisis away from massive debt with no positive income flow in sight. My intuition when I was a child concerning people was massively incorrect. People can and DO deny others their basic needs. They do it so some people can have more than they need, while others have not nearly enough. They dress it up in fancy language about how one must work and so on, but it all comes down to one thing–people do not ultimately care about needs other than their own on average.

Even As The Poor, Though, I’m Far Better Off Than Many

As the old proverb goes, he who has one eye is king in the land of the blind. I happen to be living in the richest nation on the planet–at least at this moment. While I do face many scary possibilities, I generally have food, water, and shelter. I’ve got a car. I’ve got an internet connection and some computers to write stuff with. I get by. While I do not have enough to feel secure, I have enough to exist fairly comfortably, comparatively speaking.

Survival Is About Your Focus

I do have times where my focus slips. I get pissed off that I’m not feeling well, or that I’m unable to go do some enjoyable activity because I can’t afford it. However, I have found that one can, if they so desire, overcome any condition they find objectionable through their perspective. That is not to say the conditions therefore go away, but it is to say that by not focusing on the stuff and needs you don’t have, you can focus on the things you do have and engender some variety of thankfulness. At the very least, if things change, having an attitude of thankfulness won’t hurt anything–and if they don’t–it sure beats the anxiety of endless worry.

Somewhere, Though, Over the Rainbow

Of course, we would suffer less as a collective if we simply learned how to be a little less selfish. Just because you can work more and make more money doesn’t mean you SHOULD if you already have more than enough. If you have your basic needs met and enough to do what you want to do, I suspect that making 200,000 more on top of it isn’t going to serve to make you THAT much happier, but that kind of money split up among five people who do not have their basic needs met would increase their happiness exponentially. Of course, we don’t often do that, because we think that because we worked for it we therefore deserve it. Do you deserve your health? No? Then you do not deserve anything you gain from it. It is a gift. What you gain from that gift is an additional gift.

Thankfulness Cures Selfishness

If we each were more thankful, we could cultivate an attitude where we didn’t need to grasp for more and more. Greed would be gradually supplanted by an attitude of recognizing when one had enough. It’s the perspective change that can not only overcome hardship and poverty, but actually prevent it.

What About You?

Where is your focus? Do you have enough? Do you not have enough? What things do you have that someone else doesn’t? Are you thankful for those things, or do you take them for granted?

  • Justin

    Your new layout rocks JB! So much here to digest and very powerful stuff. The way that I see it is that there is more than enough resources to go around that we can live beyond just being content with our lives.

    I know some wealthy people who own several large homes, cars and have all the “stuff” that you could imagine. Yet their mind is always worried about not having enough. The reptilian brain dominates humanity and until there is a correction in its survival mechanism, we will continue to see a greater disparity between the haves and have nots.

    • Anonymous


      You like what I did with the place? ;) I agree with you, the primitive side of people tends to dominate PARTICULARLY the part that is concerned with having enough stuff/status/etc. I think when you bring practices like thankfulness in, it sorta disarms that mechanism–causes it to jump out of the fear loop.