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Sunday, 10 November 2013

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Storm in the stomach

The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little."

~ Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States of America

A storm in the stomach may force some people to rush to the toilet; for they are urged by the need to purge the delicacies imbibed in an exhibition of greed and gluttony; an exercise in the emptying of the bowels due to the vulgarity of excess. This storm in the stomach, however, is about a people purged of hope and faith; people who have lost their courage to live in the face of helplessness, insignificance, and uncertainty.

When people live in the scourge of poverty, without having the essential elements of life: food, clothing, shelter, health care, or the financial means to obtain these within their society; it leads to social exclusion and the inability to participate in society. As a result, such people lose their dignity of life; become cheap and compliant, used and abused in untold ways. I believe that every human life is sacred from conception to natural death.

Dignity

Therefore, the life and dignity of every person must be, respected and protected at every stage, in every condition, without question. In fact, the right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights, often forgotten by most authorities. However, the right to life must ennoble the human condition. If not, it is not a life. A life of poverty is a life of shame; not for the poor, but for those wallowing in a life of indulgence when their brethren go hungry. If we do not endeavour to repress poverty, if we permit the poor to bring up their children in the brutalising influences of want and hunger; at some stage in their life, the bite of need will drive men to crime, and society criminalised, if not revolutionised.

Hunger amongst people is not just a problem; it is an insult and obscenity for a society that tolerates it. The victim of starvation burns up his own body fats, muscles, and tissues for fuel. His body quite literally consumes itself and deteriorates rapidly. The kidneys, liver, and endocrine system often cease to function properly. A shortage of carbohydrates, which play a vital role in brain chemistry, affects the mind.

Plight

Lassitude and confusion set in, so that starvation victims often seem unaware of their plight. The body's defenses drop; disease kills most victims of hunger before they have time to starve to death. The truth is that these people: the poor, the hungry, and the wretched, have the desire and the need to live as much as, anyone else on the planet; but do not have the means and the ability. What is shameful is the fact that the misery of these people is, caused not by any law of nature; but by the failures of our institutions that have a responsibility to ensure, a society free of hunger and poverty.

This, therefore, becomes our greater sin and shame; that we permit such irresponsible and callous indifference in our institutions. When the class of people who have the power to rule, rob instead; the nation loses its wealth, and the people driven to poverty.

Hence, it is needless for me to state that those who minister to poverty and hunger are accomplices in the two worst of all crimes; more than in the plunder, they indulge in.

Nothing incites to money, crimes like great poverty or great wealth. The wealthy indulge in crime out of greed for more wealth; the poor, out of hunger and poverty. Hence, it is well worth remembering, that poverty is the parent of revolution and crime. However, crime obviously has many causes, and poverty is most likely one of them in some cases. It seems likely that some poor people may sometimes have to resort to theft in order to survive. But the causal relationship between crime and poverty is only likely for some types of crimes.

Other crimes, such as fraud, crimes of passion, serial murder etc. bear absolutely no link to poverty. There may be even an inverse link, since poor people are not in a position to carry out a crime like fraud or insider trading, which are the crimes of the rich.

Thus, if we are to create a crime free society, a contended society, for discontent spawns rebellion, the eradication of poverty becomes our first duty: a duty to which every other consideration must be, sacrificed.

However, the eradication of greed requires enlightening the mind; a more difficult goal to achieve. Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds the belief that the poor are fated by those well housed, well oiled, and well fed. Such belief only validates my theory that in the extremes of society: be it wealthy or the poor, a lunatic fringe, always roam free.

Dignity

Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity: no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it. The dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society, and the principles of our social teaching, and all religion. However, it is sad to note that in our society, human life is under direct attack from poverty.

Today, in our society, the value of human life is, threatened by the class of people who rob the nation of its resources and riches without caring a mite for the welfare of the State and its people. Whereas it is the measure of every institution, whether it threatens or enhances the life and dignity of the human person; the yardstick for measuring is, fixed by the same class that loots and plunders. Hence, values do not measure up to universally accepted principles.

That being that, poverty exists more in its denial than in acknowledgment because it suits the people entrusted with eliminating poverty to do so. Denial is the cover for their crimes. Thus, the poor, having no hope of finding dignity in their motherland, or the power to change things; turn to, migration as succour. The storm in their stomach gives them no other choice.

Immigration is always a hopeful story about courage and sacrifice, hope and sorrow. But that story obscures the fact that, especially for the poor, immigration is often a traumatizing event, one that often tears families apart. We can prevent this pain, and slow the flow of migration permanently, only by addressing the factors that propels migrants, especially women, to leave in the first place. There is no denying that there are huge benefits to migration: mothers are able to send money home so their children can eat and go to school. But there are consequences too: many of these children deeply resent their mothers for leaving.

They feel abandoned; and as a result, go astray searching for the love they feel they missed. The consequences are that we produce a society of moral weaklings and undeveloped or under developed minds that have no values enshrined in them.

Perhaps it suits the class that has the power to rob, so that they can carry on their trade unhindered. But the system as a whole becomes unstable, and our society falls apart, and into crime, disease, malnutrition, poverty, prostitution: component parts of a society in degeneration.

In the absence of a will to, genuinely address the cause of poverty and other issues that flow out of it from those entrusted to do so; we must demand a different approach, one in line with the goal of keeping families intact. If not, the rot will continue and some men who do absolutely nothing that is useful to the people or the country, will continue to amass a fortune while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence. It is time we, the people, took a different approach to our thinking. Sadly though, I wonder whether a people living in poverty, have the capacity to think!

See you this day next week. Until then, keep thinking; keep laughing. Life is mostly about these two activities.

For views, reviews, encomiums, and brickbats: [email protected]

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