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The Greatest Poverty

The greatest poverty of our age is when you have no control over the room you sleep in, or where the next meal is coming from. Or even worse, when social services assumes you are an unfit mother because you are too poor to give your children what they need, and you fear you will lose them.

The next greatest poverty is when you yourself assume that those living in poverty are there because they failed in some way. Or that people who have addictions are weak willed and have simply given up.

And the next greatest poverty is if you live in a society where these attitudes prevail. Because you will find categories but not the causes of social problems.

Categories really help the ones who organize society - but who are they now? Is the government organizing anything beyond budget, traffic and policing? When police officers, doctors, nurses and social workers keep fixing the wounds, go home, come back to find only more of the same, do they begin to question if they are helping at all?

Who is responsible for taking care of the bigger picture? If our prime minister is unable (or unwilling) to keep the promises he made during elections - who exactly is in charge? And if we don't know who is in charge of the infrastructures of our civilization, aren't we just refugees with debt?

The greatest poverty of our age, as I see it, is when we don't care about the infrastructures in terms of how it impacts our quality of life. It's Bleak House on a grand scale. It's like having plenty of electrical sockets in your house but you don't know which ones will charge your cell or blow you apart.

The emphasis on trade deals are saying to us - we cannot survive without plugging into a system we do not have the vocabulary to understand.

Poverty is not being able to navigate our future because the options are not available to us. Scrolling through Facebook is an inventory of injustices and structural violence from around the world. Nanosecond updates on all that is wrong and all that we (humanity) are failing at, and none of these observations and news items direct us on what we can do about it.

In this way we do not have a society, just overplayed myths about who we are, and who we are better than.

What can we plan without bullying or criticizing others? How can we hold onto a vision if no one else cares? How do we measure what matters if we have been reduced to the Gross Domestic Product?

How can we challenge one another without exploding the rage we all feel just under the skin?


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