The World Bank announced this month that 968 million people lived on less than a dollar a day in 2004. That’s down from 1.25 billion in 1990 according to The Economist (2007 April 28th Issue).
Here’s the closing paragraph of the article:
When you live on a dollar a day it may be painful to confront your circumstances too squarely, or even to aspire to better things. The “great redeeming feature of poverty,” George Orwell wrote after his excursions in the social gutters of Paris and London, is “the fact that it annihilates the future.”
But the poor do have choices, it seems. Typical poor households could spend up to 30% more for food, if they would divert devoting their funds towards “alcohol, tobacco and festivals.” “Festivals” includes weddings, funerals, and religious outings and take up to 10% of a households budget.
The authors attribute this spending to either escapism:
“this spending might be motivated by escapism –the poor have a lot to escape.”
Or Social emulation:
“Even those in absolute poverty care about their relative standing.”
These two reasons could be cited for affluent westerners as well. I wonder if they failed to recognize [or at least to mention] the human desire to celebrate, socialize, dream and feel -if but for a moment -happiness. Are these not attributes/needs of all people including the poor? The poor are human. They hate. They feel shame. They feel trapped. They feel love. They feel hope. They create. They dream.
It’s because the poor dream, and hope, and hurt, that this question really matters:
“Lord, When did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?” Matthew 25.37
See you in the Mystic…