BY EGAGA PATRICK
There is a certain hate, a bad blood, a rising crescendo of lethargic animosity between the rich and the poor. The reason for this hate is unclear, but the complexity that drives the intentions for the hate is almost close to nothing really. In the lines that follow, I intend to find the base line and a possible solution to this hate strip.
Reno Omokiri writes “Give a poor man a hen, he would kill and eat, give it to a rich man, he would rear it to lay eggs so that he can have more hens”. He concludes, “poverty is a choice.”
While I may not entirely agree with his assertion, just so to leave a space for those who by nature, every opportunity to be rich never reach them, or who have been “destined” to be poor as some may argue, I yet, still have enough evidence to support Reno’s claim.
Biblically, the Greek word for the poor has its root in the word ‘`ani’ which means “afflicted”. The argument here is that those who are poor were the afflicted by God who desires that because of their sins they become the servants of others. In another dimension, there is the argument that it is the afflicted themselves who have failed to work with the grace of God which would lead them out of poverty. But does God really want anyone to be “afflicted” with poverty?
People in general are, in a way, conditioned to think rich people are corrupt and greedy by nature, which is obviously not the case. In The Antichrist, Nietzsche makes a very interesting point about how Christianity somehow conditions people to think that people “above”, whether that be socially or economically, are sinners. But it would amount to a poverty of thought if we are to agree that poverty is an affliction.
The elegy on the epitaph of poverty is the consistent way in which the poor sell out their right to freedom. A clear example is the poor social media minions, mostly the poverty-stricken youths who parade themselves as political alleluia boys in the name of media aide, only to sing lies of praises of the paymaster even in the face of obvious truths which stare them to the face, a truth they also suffer from. They do not care, so long as the lies put food on the table. This is the level poverty can go, it blinds the senses of every attachment to truth and turns the mind towards what is available hic et nunc.
A more vicious factor is the ungrateful, insubordinate, and wicked aroma that seems to always surround the poor. Their tendencies are animalistic, fatalistic and teleological for the most part. It is always about today and never a thought about tomorrow. This is a fundamental problem and the rich constantly drink from this river of gratefulness. The biblical story of the man with one talent who was ungrateful and wicked merited him a loss of the one talent, which was taken and given to the one who had more.
It is almost difficult to find a poor man who wishes good for the rich. We simply want to be rich and the next prayer that comes is that the rich should as much suffer what we have suffered, they should become poor while we become rich. This intention is an offshoot of jealousy, a spree of ungratefulness, a colossal mistake that every time keeps the poverty within the circle of the poor.
Worse, the poor never extend a hand of help amongst each other. It is always about unhealthy battles aimed at outdoing the other instead of helping each other out of poverty. This inordinate and insatiable desire to be something more causes more harm than good. Often, it makes us even more unappreciative of what we have and never really get to know ourselves.
We keep seeing that which we do not have and lose sight of what we have. However, poverty does not just go away by mere wishing, you have to do something positive, be thankful, work within your limit, and decisively with true and clean intentions, within available rights and just means to become better.
Last week, I found just close to where I live, a cluster of children who feed on leftovers at a restaurant. And after having their fill, they gather that which they cannot eat and sell to a pigpen just down the road. Upon inquiry, I realized this was how they got money for their other needs. They worked within their limit, never hating, never jealous, contented, and yet striving to be better. One of them resounded clearly to me, “in the future, I would be the biggest pigpen owner in town.”
The difference between the rich and the poor is simply time and opportunity. Although, given equal chances, some would still not improve. The idea that others with the same opportunities worked hard and were more successful highlights their own failures. The entire reason people go to high school reunions is to compare their life to their peers. Everyone thinks they’re above average and wants to be to the right of the curve. When they discover that they’re not, the blame game starts. People dissect all sorts of “advantages” they have had, and rationalize that they could have been successful with the same circumstances. They look for reasons why the person doesn’t deserve the success he or she is enjoying.
You’ll likely never change these deeply ingrained beliefs. All you can do is set a better example. Just focus on your own goals and do what makes you happy. Live the life you want. Let others think what they will. Anytime you do something worthwhile, you’ll have critics. If you stop to soothe every little dog that barks at you, you’ll never get to where you want to go. But do this in view of making others better, never about outdoing or out shinning. The converse is why we remain poor.