You should thank the poor

2015-07-08 17:09

You can almost distinguish the levels of poverty in cockroaches, for in humans, its' tangibility leaves anyone in disbelief, and yet, we have grown accustomed to it.

We shush poverty away with our colognes of entitlement, their scent overbearing the lack of sense in our neglect. But all poetry aside, do we really want a world without poverty?

Poverty is, sometimes, overly romanticized. Colonized with the images of malnourished Ethiopian children, and demeaning billboards on high ways ranking low in humanity. Cardboard signs hanging from the necks of those suffocated by their social cradles of underdevelopment. Some would give, and others would give in to the "I don't want to fund drug addiction" narrative that stops us from extending some wealth.

Some would go as far as attributing poverty to misplaced governance, or to greed of the wealthier ones that have shook off their alleged duty to save the world. Some tear up at the plight of African children and their compromised futures, some go as far as 'liking' Facebook pictures and forwarding Whats App messages to cure cancer. This is all very romantic, but it does not go beyond UNICEF billboards.

So realistically, truly and honestly, do we want a world without poverty?

I attended a seminar last week, and in the midst of a conversation about innovation, the guest speaker mentioned how damaging socialist policies can be to competition in a society. Maybe she hadn't heard herself properly, for she was in a room full of students, where the "capitalism sucks" narrative prevailed, but she pursued her story and confirmed that, indeed, capitalism is good for innovation, and indeed, poverty is what keeps it going.

I further initiated a discussion over lunch, "so you think poverty is good for progress?", I asked, and with an unashamed, and almost condescending tone she replied, "Of course! Just look at Greece and their welfare policies!", and we can all predict where the conversation went.

Poverty is terrible, misunderstand me not, but there was sense in what she said. It is out of desperation that solutions emerge; out of chaos that order is formed; out of conflict that peace is born, and, finally, out of poverty that people see the need to innovate and create.

This is a thought that is hard to digest, should we be thankful for poverty in a world that encourages us to progress? Undeniably, several governments and corporates are capitalizing on people's lack of capital. Poverty is, for the most part, highly profitable. Deepening social divides has proven stronger than any social construct humanity has ever conjured, and to eradicate poverty is a long shot and an incredible amount of trust in the system, whichever system you prefer.

Would it, then, be completely incorrect to state that a world without poverty would be a world where innovation would be highly compromised, if it were to exist at all? How to draw solutions if there are no problems at hand?

Some would say that the inherent curiosity would pave the way for progress, but a more realistic approach shows that we simply react to the challenges and move forward from them.

This poses several questions, but mostly, why are there still poor people in the world? Considering how far we've come, is absolute poverty justifiable? Considering all the numerous advances in all these fields, how is it that innovation plays a key part in forming a culture of underdevelopment? How come the cost of progress is poverty?

Reality is that, for each homeless person you pass by, someone has made their first million, or closed their first deal. The challenge remains the same: how to move forward without leaving people behind.

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