Three Timeless Thoughts on Poverty

by Henrik Edberg

Three Timeless Thoughts on Poverty“Coming generations will learn equality from poverty, and love from woes.
Kahlil Gibran

This is a part of Blog Action Day.

Poverty is a complicated problem. I’m surely no expert on the topic.

But I have found a few thoughts that can be applied both to personal growth and hopefully to alleviate poverty.

Maybe you’ll find something find helpful and/or inspirational in this article. I hope so.

1. Cultivate your kindness and openness.

“We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”
Mother Theresa

But how can one start doing such a thing? For instance, by being kind. By listening. By being open.

And also by realizing that sometimes we don’t have the patience, energy or time for that. But not to let it discourage us or make us give up altogether. Instead we get up in the saddle again the next day.

So many things in life are to a large part about practise, habits and underlying mindsets. One thing that can prevent people from being even more helpful to each other comes from experiencing a separation and barriers between you and other people.

There is often an underlying frame of mind in interactions. Either it asks us how we are different compared to this person. Or how we are the same as this person. The first frame is based in how the ego likes to judge people and create separation to strengthen itself (either through feeling better or more like a victim). The second one creates warmth, an openness and curiosity within. There is no place to focus on fear or judgement anymore.

Cultivating such a frame of mind is of course not easy, especially if you have held the first frame of mind for many years. But one practical way of working on it is to face your fears. As you face them the barriers and separation you have built in your mind decreases. You come closer and feel more of a connection to other people.

With action, curiousness and understanding we come closer to each other. We gain a greater understanding of ourselves and others. And so it becomes easier to see them in you. And you in them. With this frame of mind kindness and wanting to help out becomes more of a natural part of you.

You can read more about this and other thoughts on how to overcome fear in this article.

2. In knowledge lies power.

“Real poverty is lack of books.”
Sidonie Gabrielle

With knowledge comes power. With personal power it becomes harder for those in charge to just boss you around. You learn more about what you are capable of and what others have done before. You learn to help yourself. And your view of what is possible can expand if you let it.

Today this isn’t just about books. I have to agree with Daniel Scocco’s latest post: the internet is changing a lot of things and can help to bring about change even more in the coming years. It can help people to find each other and find out what’s really going on in the world. And how they can improve their lives and their world.

3. Learn from those who really know.

“Most organizations should be pro-active, but philanthropists concerned with poverty should deliberately be reactive, learning from the efforts of ordinary folks who tired of looking the other way as their communities fell apart.
Marvin Olasky

Here’s a common tips in marketing: you have to figure out what people really want.  

Not what you think they want. There is often a difference between the two, even though one may not think so.

In this case it is valuable to learn from those who live in poverty and/or works with it. From those who have done what you aspire to do. People with experience that have already made mistakes, failed and learned lessons. Don’t use money and effort foolishly to do what you may think is the right thing to do just based on you thinking it’s the right thing.

Problems can be very hard to understand when you come from the outside. When you haven’t had the experience yourself. It might be tempting to project your own pre-conceived notions on the challenge that you are trying to help out with.

This not only goes for this challenge of course. It’s often valuable to ask people what they want instead of guessing. And to learn from people who have already gone where you want to go by talking to them or by reading about it online or offline.

To continue reading about poverty today, here are a few blog posts from around the world that I liked. Feel free to share any posts on the topic that you found helpful in the comments.

If you enjoyed this article, please share it on Stumbleupon, vote for it on Digg or bookmark it on del.icio.us. Thanks a lot! =)



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{ 8 comments }

John October 16, 2008 at 11:35 am

The second part: “With knowledge comes power. With personal power it becomes harder for those in charge to just boss you around” is a great one to always keep in mind and a great reason to never stop learning. If interested in others thoughts along this vein read Paulo Freire’s classic work “The Pedagogy of the Oppressed”, it is about education as a way out of poverty. Great post today, thank you.

candy October 16, 2008 at 8:35 pm

great post, thank you for sharing – this is the first that I have heard of blog action day… what a great initiative, using the power of bloggers to raise awareness. something similar that our blog has gotten involved with is a “virtual walk” to raise money and awareness for stage iv breast cancer: http://carrieanddanielle.com/gal-to-gal-virtual-walk-for-breast-cancer-we%E2%80%99re-walking-are-you/

irtiza October 16, 2008 at 8:57 pm

hi, i am happy that i came across your blog. i also sometimes do write about povery and personal development. i guess i can learn a lot from you

Vincent October 17, 2008 at 10:54 am

“Real poverty is lack of books.”
Sidonie Gabrielle

I believe this is true. Without books means lacking in knowledge. Without knowledge, how can one earn much and be wealthy? Knowledge is king.

Vincent
Personal Development Blogger

Juliet October 18, 2008 at 2:54 pm

Hi

I’ve read a number of the blog action posts, and yours I really like. It’s positive.

I think that we need to look within first before taking all of the action. We can’t solve external disrepair without firstly having inner peace and stability. Cultivating kindness and acquiring knowledge is just that.

On the “learning from others”…this is so true. I can see so often how well-meaning people simply don’t achieve much because they rush into what they believe will be the best solution without really investigating.

Juliet

Rasmus Ole Hansen October 19, 2008 at 12:06 am

Great post.

I especially like “Real poverty is lack of books”. It reminds me of at Gene Simmons interview in BusinessWeek:

http://www.businessweek.com/smallbiz/content/sep2008/sb2008095_987221_page_2.htm

Here he said:
“Be a voracious reader. When I first came to America, I was blown away and blessed the day the founding fathers gave us free libraries. It was the first time since the Gutenberg Bible that all information became available to all levels of society. Everyone has the same access to information, which is access to power.”

I’ve been reading your blog since epn.dk linked to your blog about 7 habits of highly ineffective people.

My all time favorit post is your: 16 things I wish they had taught me in school.

Everybody should read that post. Keep up the good work, Henrik.

cheritycall October 27, 2008 at 8:25 pm

Hello, Do something to help those hungry people in Africa or India,
I created this blog about them:
on http://tinyurl.com/65dptv

hermes handbags July 8, 2010 at 5:07 am

hi, i am happy that i came across your blog. i also sometimes do write about povery and personal development. i guess i can learn a lot from you

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