Friday, 23 May 2008

The Tyranny of Poverty

It's funny, how many people will judge you negatively for being in a lower income bracket - or no income bracket at all. Financial worth has become synonymous with moral righteousness. Picture the man sleeping on the streets because he left his care home at the age of 16 and had nowhere to go, or lost everything including his shirt in the divorce; and how many people will step over him, or, like the majority response to those in wheelchairs, avoid making eye-contact with him. (I can never quite work out if this kind of avoidance arises from typical English embarrassment, or the fear that one might become contaminated by the less fortunate.) Or consider those who prop up the Dole queue every fortnight: those who creep furtively into the Jobcentre, aka the antechamber of hell, to be grilled about what steps they've taken to achieve moral rectitude: or those who never have the prospect of getting a job, ever, because they are either completely lacking in talents and abilities or have had an appalling education. They're practically subhuman in society's eyes. Moreover, they should be pitifully grateful for their meagre handouts, and swallow their pride when the government pries into every detail of their private lives.
As the credit crisis worsens into a Depression - come on, we all know it's coming: even George Soros says that we're suffering the worst economic situation since the 30s - the virtue of money is going to either increase out of all proportion or vanish into the ether. I'm hoping for the latter. Money technically doesn't exist: that little wad of notes you carry around only has meaning because you allow it to. And, once it becomes more and more difficult for you to be able to keep warm and clothe yourself and eat well, and the future turns into a vanishing point because the tyranny of money means that you exist from moment to moment, blinded by anxiety about where the next meal's coming from: think twice before you shun the beggar in the street. There but for the grace of God goes you.

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Life is to be lived, not controlled, and humanity is won by continuing to play in face of certain defeat -Ralph Ellison