John Ray wrote the following article and sent it as his thoughts after reading my series “Poverty and Survival”.
John Ray is a English Teacher on Palawan and his insite and thoughts of being a Filipino, the trials and lifes lessons, and living in the Philippines is very thoughtful.
I hope you enjoy his article. He has been away for the summer and has ignored his site, now I am looking for more interesting articles and stories on his site in the future.
And now for a Filipino Philosophers thoughts on “Poverty” by John Ray F. Arquisola of Roxas, Palawan
Poverty is an age old issue. No historian or scientist has ever been able to record when it sprang up, how it became, or why it occurs. But history attests that nations have been trying to deal with it like an incurable cancer. Effort, time and money have been spent for countless times to prevent and eradicate it yet those who do try to defy face a wall of what seems impossibilities. For many years, there have been talks about poverty eradicating plans but again these plans fail miserably against the harsh reality of poverty. I am not a pessimist nor am I bound to realism, however, so much has been spent and wasted only to find out it is not the entirety of a nation’s problem.
Sometimes we forget that poverty itself is not the only problem that hinders progress. I think one mistake the Philippines been making so far is it has been focusing too much on poverty itself. Since I was a kid, I always hear bank robbers, snatchers and thieves say that they were stealing and robbing because they were poor. On the other hand, I encounter other people who have much less in life rear their family successfully without resorting to crime. Then I encounter people who would not exchange their current life for wealth. Again, I also encounter people who look like millionaires but could rarely eat a decent meal and then there are people who sell “ice scramble (crushed ice with sugar, milk and peanuts)” but are 3x richer than a teacher.
Though poverty to some is the root of their problem and the hindrance to their success, I believe that for many people, poverty is the fruit of a much worse problem. Greed, for example, results to poverty. Waste results in poverty. Laziness results in poverty. Quitters become poor. The lack of know-how usually makes you poor. There are many Filipinos who are still living below the poverty line and the reason why they are still there is not even directly related to poverty itself.
So what is my point in all these? Well, for one, poverty cannot be solved in the general scale. Being in poverty is unique in each individual and trying to solve it using fix systems is all but disastrous. It’s like trying to open a screw using a hammer. Each one need different solutions and most of the time they themselves hold that key. Don’t blame it on luck or on opportunities.
Secondly, poverty has been heavily associated with financial stability. While it may seem true, looking at the economic situation we are in, everybody is prone to poverty. Financial stability is not a security and those in and under the poverty line will more likely survive the financial crisis than those who claim financial stability. I guess they are above the poverty line in terms of survivability.
Lastly, poverty is most of the time a matter of perception. I once heard an American girl say she felt she was very poor because she did not have new clothes for prom. This may sound funny but being in social networks and constantly surfing the net I have found numerous first world country citizens who “felt” they were extremely poor because they could not buy what they wanted. I doubt I could convince them they were rich base on the figures they were earning every month and comparing it to extreme poor countries such as Bangladesh. While on the other hand I see people who could barely eat three times a day feel rich and satisfied. Confusing eh… I guess dissatisfaction creates poverty in the rich and gratitude makes the poor wealthy.