What is Poverty?
My husband and I have been on a spending fast this month, which means we’re not buying anything extra. We’re not doing it to prove anything, just to help us recover from some very unexpected (and rather large) expenses over the last few months. We’ll probably continue the spending fast into next month, and perhaps the month after that, just to help us get back to where we want to be financially. Let me tell you, it gets old after a while.
Two weeks ago a friend sent me a text and invited me to join her at a local cafe. Without even thinking about it I found myself giving her an excuse. “I’m poor, I can’t this month.” I think my friends are tired of hearing that line, I’m tired of hearing that line…and it’s not the truth. I’m not poor on any account aside from attitude. I’m certainly not money poor, I replied via text on my smartphone for heaven’s sake.
I needed a change in attitude.
-Poverty is not having clean, running water because you can’t afford to pay a water bill, or worse yet, your country is in war with others over access to clean water.
If you had clean, running water this morning you are richer than 884 million people worldwide.
-Poverty is eating nothing, relying 100% on other people to provide food for you because you lack the funds and/or physical means to provide it for yourself.
Approximately 25,000 people die daily because they don’t have regular access to food.
-Poverty means your child cannot read or has painfully decayed teeth because you cannot pay for medical care, you lack the means to apply for assistance, free clinics aren’t available in your area or you cannot afford or find transportation to get help.
16,000 children in the US on Medicaid cannot find dental care
There are millions of people around the world that fit the definition of poverty. We cannot confuse poverty with a “poor attitude”, which is something I constantly have to fight.
This morning I was thinking about how our internet service keeps going out, despite the fact that I now pay double for a faster speed that was supposed to solve the problem. How I wish I could afford another service that included television, man I really miss watching tv. Except we don’t want to bring television service into our house. Except that even without cable tv we still watch too much tv. I had adopted a “Poor Meg, can’t even afford tv” attitude, even though living without cable television is a choice we’re making for personal reasons, not financial.
I went to a walk-in clinic last night (and watched the news, which is probably where my tv craving came from) and bemoaned the fact that I had to pay a $45 co-pay just to be diagnosed with an ear infection and written a script, when I knew full well that I had an ear infection and would have preferred to save the $45 and gone straight to the script. Poor Meg had to use a charge card to pay the doctor. Poor Meg, really? Just because my ear hurts and I had to use a charge card that I’ll probably pay off later this week? REALLY?
A shift in attitude isn’t usually easy, how many of us like to step back and look at ourselves critically? Sometimes, however, it’s what we need to step out of the “poor me” attitude and into a place where we can see the realities of where we are and make a plan for where we want to go.
The mere fact that you are reading this means that you have access to a computer or smartphone, so you are most likely not living in poverty. Start there and see where it leads you. I’m going to start by inviting that friend over for coffee instead of going out.