How To End Poverty
Do you think your life will be different if you had more money? Think about that — if you had more money now will life be different for you?
If your answer is yes, I have another question — who told you? Can you recall where and from whom you got that notion from? And to add to that — how would your life have been different?
What is it that the money would have made possible that would have changed your life? A better school? A better neighborhood? A better country? A bigger business? Well-connected people?
You are what you know
How much money you have is a reflection of how much you know. Money in itself doesn’t make the difference. If your money doubles right now, the fundamentals of your life will remain the same. More money just makes everything bigger — the circumstances, the problems, the effort, and the consolation. With the caliber of problems most people have, more money will actually be a curse.
If you see things from the world’s perspective only, things can seem different because of the money. But when real-life challenges stare at you face to face, only then can you realize that the money was never a factor.
What is Poverty?
I get amazed when I hear about certain people come together in a meeting and decide they want to end poverty. The amazement for me is not the meeting — the amazement is the conclusions they draw. The conclusions look so sick to me.
Sometimes I hope and assume I am the ignorant one but over time, their results prove to me that they are guessing. In a way, it seems like they want to hold the world at ransom letting all hope be on them so that control can be in their hands. But life is not like that.
First of all, is there a clear understanding of the origin of poverty? What exactly is poverty?
The World Bank declares anyone or everyone living below $1.90 per day is poor. And that is their definition of poverty. That is 100% wrong! Nothing could be further from reality.
There was a time I was spending below that amount per day and I wasn’t poor. I have had times I had to live on so little amount of money but in all those times I was never poor. Their definition of poverty is wrong because that is not a definition — rather it is a result or an offspring of poverty.
Just because a person is living below a particular amount of money per day doesn’t mean he is poor
The real question is:
Will that continue indefinitely or does that have a date when it expires?
The Problem of Poverty
That living below a specific amount per day, I have seen it. I have seen it in many lives and many faces. In the remote town I stayed in, the place bleeds with poverty.
And contrary to what you may think, it’s not because they don’t have money or they live on little per day. It is because poverty is their life. Poverty is what they know. Poverty is what they can bond with, they don’t understand being rich.
If you try to take their poverty away from them, it’s like you are threatening their life. And they will take that very personal
You can sit on your desk and keep looking at the statistics, but this is what it looks like on the field. So, can I define poverty for you? Poverty is the inability to afford what you want because you’re yet to figure out how you can be useful to other people.
Poverty is the state of a person’s being (body, soul, spirit) that conditions him to the state of lack and keeps him there
Take a look at that definition and take a look at those who are pumping money to “fight” poverty.
If you give a poor man 10 million dollars, you just ruined his life
You might say it was already ruined but I assure you that you’ve done something worse. Look at it this way, all possible insights that can bring him out of poverty cannot get his attention anymore. The money will drive the poor man mad and send him to an early grave while he is still breathing.
Only rich men can control money. Money possesses poor men. So if you intend on ending poverty how will you go about it? How do you take someone out of a thinking that defines his own life?
Origins of Poverty
Have you ever talked to a scavenger (i.e. someone who lives on junks and wastes of other people) before? Stories tell you what statistics cannot. When you talk with a poor man, you will understand why he is poor. You will also know whether he is coming out of poverty or it is a permanent abode.
Poverty begins with ideas embraced from childhood. And the effects of religion and education are in no way negligible. It is not the facts that affect the life of a child rather it is what the child believes. And what the child believes is what the child carries into adulthood.
At the level of the child, the thoughts and ideas are seeds planted. But adulthood consists of trees that grew from the seed. The interesting thing is that the seed dies but the tree remains. This means that the source of the information dies but the mindset from the information grows. And it keeps growing.
This is why you are what you know how to do
If you want to change who you are, show the world (i.e. your world) that you can do something (relevant) other than what you are known to know. And as simple as that, anybody can walk out of poverty.
The Mirage of False Hope
When you find a person hoping for luck, you know you have a struggler. A person might be born into poverty but to remain poor is a conscious choice.
False hope is another terrible thing that keeps people poor. And for there to be false hope, there has to be an information source producing it. Think for yourself and spot the sources. No matter how long you’ve gone in the wrong direction, it’s never too late to make a turn.
If you’ve gotten to the point in your life where you cannot make a turn (even if someone made it as clear as crystal that you are wrong) then you have sealed your fate
The information that generates false hope is not necessarily wrong. They are just not true enough for life to be based on it. And they do not only produce false hope, but they also produce misplaced priorities in people. I discovered that fewer and fewer people understand proper prioritization. I have seen people in very bad situations make king-size unwise decisions that drown them.
Problems don’t start big, they come small.
It is the inability of people to make sound judgment and excellent decisions that turn the problem from small into big. That’s another way to see poverty. So if you want to do something about this, what do you propose?
There are two things that can do something about poverty. These two things can only function right in the hands of the right people (not systems). Without the right people in charge, they will also be a failure. Also, they can only affect the young ones (that is, the children).
It will take something more and stronger to get to the adults. Unless the adults open themselves to you, whatever it is you do will not get to their heart. But for the kids, the two things that can do something are prosperity and education.
There is a way to culture the mind of a child towards prosperity by prosperity. This is where money can do something if you’re not afraid to waste it. And when I mean education, I do not mean schooling. Have you discovered that education has left school?
The only reason why the school system is still relevant in today’s world is the certificate. Erase the certificate system and the school system will come crashing down. Education has left school, the question is — do you know where it is now? Let me give you a tip:
Where education is at the moment is not where teaching is taking place but it is where learning is taking place
You can’t control it — you can only take advantage of it.
The decision to stop being poor is not a decision to have money or to get money at all costs. Rather it is a decision to become relevant. A man is not poor because of what he doesn’t have rather he is poor because of what he doesn’t know he has.
A man is not poor because he has little today rather he is poor because he doesn’t recognize anything that he has today that can change his state tomorrow
If you are passionate about poor people, think on these things.
This article was written in 2015/2016 from my experience in a community service initiative. Read the entire collection in the order it was written here.