August 2, 2011

Not All Bad . . . Is NOT All Good (Day 11 - August 2, 2011)

There's a perception out there that anyone needing help must be miserable.  Put another way, some think that unless one is miserable then one doesn't really need help.  However, I need to tell you that how somebody feels at any particular moment is absolutely not a good measure of whether or not they need help.  In fact, believing that one must be miserable all the time if they are in need is cruel . . . a little like kicking someone when they are down.

I know that there's that perception out there because I've experienced a real battle within me at times over the last few days as to how people expect me to act versus how I actually feel.  On the one hand, I feel like people expect me to be struggling all the time if I am having a poverty-related experience.  On the other hand, it is not realistic to expect people to stop being people just because they don't have sufficient resources.  Whether you are rich or poor . . . people laugh and find humour in life, people have sad moments and happy moments, people love and hurt.  Poverty is a fact, not an emotion.  In fact, I take my hat off to those who can live in squalor, without their basic rights being met, and still be able to find something to smile about.


While my self-sacrifice done during this project is small compared to the plight of many, I have struggled at times but I have also found reason to smile.   The above photos captured this past weekend provide evidence of these "smiley times".  The first picture shows one of the simple pleasures in life . . . putting one's feet into cold, fresh creek water in order to cool off on a hot day.  The second picture shows me washing some dishes, not unlike one would volunteer to do at a shelter or for a host when food has been provided.  Why so happy?  Because it was delightful being able to hang around my family as I did the dishes.  I've missed the sounds of daily routine while outside, and it was a pleasure to have them around me a little longer before I had to head back outside (yes . . . even if it meant scrubbing crud off of dishes).

So, I think the learning for all of us today is that poverty is not about being sad . . . or being happy . . . it is about a set of factual circumstances in which a person may find themselves regardless of whatever emotion they are feeling at the moment.  Similarly, alleviating poverty is not about turning that frown upside down, but rather is about protecting and fulfilling their basic human rights and creating situations where people are better able to reach their potential.  Being happy or sad are simply choices that people make regardless of whether they are rich or poor.  That said, it sure would be nice if no one had to try to be happy while hungry, or without water, or trapped in poverty in one of its many forms.

Hey!!  I'm That Poverty Guy . . . let's make a world of difference together.

7 comments:

  1. I appreciated this insight because yes I have felt that way about those in need ... they are unhappy people, but not neccessarely true. In fact I have associated with some very happy poor people who just dealt with life and in doing so taught me a few things about dealing with my life.

    ReplyDelete
  2. The previous Unknown should re Dan K

    ReplyDelete
  3. And, you also raise a very good point. I firmly believe that all of us have things we can learn and teach others. For example, we in the developed west can learn much about community, relationship, and resourcefulness from our resource lacking neighbors in the developing world. Thanks for your comment!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I admit to being one of those people who associated poverty with unhappiness and I am happy to stand corrected. But it makes sense because I know some financially wealthy people who even give "grumpy" a bad name. Now that I think about it, stereotyping of homeless people goes far beyond unhappiness...what about mentally ill, lazy, criminals, drug addicts and dirty just to name a few. Again, there are many people who sit very comfortably in their big houses who could claim at least a few of those traits. So thanks, Sean, for bringing this topic to our attention. I learned something today.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Thanks for your insightful post, Marilyn!

    ReplyDelete
  6. This remainds me of my favourite song by Great Big Sea 'Ordinary Day' It is really your own choice how for feel but it is very sad that any one in the world today should go hungry. These are the people who enjoy the simple things in live like a sunrise in the morning sky or maybe someone with a friendly simle who stops and takes time to say hello ask how they are doing and listen to the answer. I find your blogs a great way to follow you on your jounery, keep up the great job.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hi Jo-Anne . . . thanks for your comment and encouragement. Excellent analogy! (And . . . I love Great Big Sea!!)

    ReplyDelete