The Problem of Poverty

Let’s talk about poverty. Poverty a big problem with complex causes and something we should not shy away from as writers.

Recently, I started a conversation on Thanet Star on the subject of poverty. This was part of week 1 of the Thanet Creative Awesome Blogger Awards 2018. In the Thanet Star post (written by me) I said: “Not talking about poverty does not make the problem go away”. At almost the same time, fellow Author Buzz writer, Christian Writer also covered the topic from a religious perspective. So let’s talk.

What is poverty?

Let us start with a definition of poverty.

Fundamentally, poverty is the inability of having choices and opportunities, a violation of human dignity. It means lack of basic capacity to participate effectively in society. It means not having enough to feed and clothe a family, not having a school or clinic to go to, not having the land on which to grow one’s food or a job to earn one’s living, not having access to credit. It means insecurity, powerlessness and exclusion of individuals, households and communities. It means susceptibility to violence, and it often implies living in marginal or fragile environments, without access to clean water or sanitation.

UN Statement, June 1998 – signed by the heads of all UN agencies

I think that opening statement needs repeating: Poverty is the inability of having choices and opportunities. Perhaps that is why we fail to reflect it as authors? Poverty is a lack of choices and a good story needs choices.

When you feel alone, without choices, whatever options you have left, no matter how bad they might be, are your only choice. That’s why poverty and crime will always be linked. Not because poor people are inherently bad but because a lack of agency is.

Causes of Poverty

sree no evilOne of the things that leave the subject of poverty hard to investigate is that there is no universal agreed measure of poverty. That makes poverty difficult to count, hard to quantify, and challenging to assess.

Are we talking about income inequality? Do we mean food poverty (a lack of access to food)? What about period poverty (a lack of reliable access to feminine hygiene products)? Maybe we mean opportunity poverty (a lack of opportunity relative to the median).

That word – relative – is used a lot. Because poverty is relative to setting, culture, environment, and community.

Of the 6 root causes of poverty listed by Richmond Vale Academy, how many apply to Thanet, Kent, for example? Not war, poor agriculture, or environmental degradation. In fact maybe only “Discrimination and social inequality” and “Centralization of power and corruption”.

Perhaps, more accurately the root causes of poverty should also include poverty itself.

The vicious cycles of poverty mentioned before mean that lifelong handicaps and troubles that are passed on from one generation to another. — poverties.org

So what can we do about poverty?

As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest. –Nelson Mandela

Travel Poor People India Culture Asia Poverty

Think about this, eight of the world’s richest people own as much combined wealth as half of the human race. Yet half the people of the world suffer from the effects of poverty. Perhaps Christian Writer was right, fighting poverty must become a religious, moral, and ethical duty.

According to one claim (found here), a tax on just half of the hidden in tax havens would be sufficient to end extreme poverty worldwide twice over. Could ending poverty be as simple as fighting the worst of human greed?

I don’t know what the answer is. I do know that by keeping the conversation going we have a chance of pushing matters forward towards a solution.

All I know is that, as a race, we have the resources to end poverty.

Will you blog about poverty?

I asked on Thanet Star, and I will ask again. Not talking about poverty will not make it go away – will you join me in talking about it?

  • If you have a blog – write a blog post.
  • If you use Twitter use the hashtag #poverty and spread the conversation. I’m on Twitter as @LordMatt if you want to chat.
  • If you are on Facebook or some other social media site share this, share something. Keep the conversation going.

Whatever you do just don’t let the world forget that there is a problem that affects us all and we could do something about it.

Join me in talking about poverty.

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