Dealing with Poverty
How to live when poverty comes to you
Poverty is not a pleasant subject. We all wish it would go away. We don't like seeing pictures of people living in poverty. We especially don't like it when we are the ones living in poverty. However, poverty is a reality. Most people go through a period of being poor, and struggling to survive. Some even struggle with it their whole life. There is a lot of discussion on why people are poor and how they can escape poverty. Here, I want to define what poverty is, the sources of poverty, and finally how to deal with it when you are the one going through it.
What is poverty?
Many think that poverty is something that happens in third world nations. Many would argue that there is no true poverty in the United States. However, I propose to you that poverty is relative to the society in which a person lives. Yes, poor people in wealthier nations can always see people worse off in poorer nations, but that does not explain away an individuals struggle for daily survival. Even though a poor person in the United States may be in better living conditions than someone in Ethiopia, they still struggle for daily survival because the cost of living in the United States is much higher. This fact causes it to be more difficult to obtain the financial resources needed to live.
So, what is poverty? Poverty is the financial condition in which an individual is not able to sufficiently meet their physical needs or the needs of their family. When someone has to make choices to go without true physical necessities, they are living in poverty.
Following are some signs of someone living in poverty:
1. Making tough choices
Many have to make a choice between eating a meal or paying a utility bill. Some choose between going to the doctor or eating a meal. Some have to choose between meeting a physical need and paying for a car repair so they can continue to go to work. There are many other difficult choices people must make to survive another day without plunging into financial ruin. The reality is that the choices that many must make are hard and cause much pain.
2. Necessary debt
I tire of hearing that debt is always bad and that you can get out of debt. This simply is not true for some. I have lived in poverty and have had to get a loan I could not make payments on or put money on a credit card I could not pay just to make it one more day on necessary physical needs, such as food and doctor bills. Some are in debt due to no fault of their own. They had no other choice if they were going to survive.
3. Fight for survival
Those living in poverty find themselves on the brink of financial ruin. They begin to fight for survival. In the movie, The Pursuit of Happyness, starring Will Smith, the character being portrayed was Chris Gardner, a man living in San Francisco in the 1980s. He became homeless, due to lack of income. He developed a fighter mentality. Once when trying to obtain shelter for himself and his son for the night, a man cut in line, causing Chris to lose out on shelter. At that point he got in a physical fight with the man, and got his spot in line back. There are other ways in which those in poverty will fight to survive, but fight for survival becomes a reality for the poor. Even pursuits like hub-pages, and other adventures can be a sign of fighting to survive, not to come out on top.
4. Survival mentality
Many work and live to be on top. Those living in poverty often work and live with thoughts of survival in mind. They have no dream to be the best or to achieve greatness. They have one thing in mind and that is surviving for one more day. Their struggle is a daily reality, and they don't bother with financial success, because it seems so far out of reach at the moment.
5. True concern for needs
Most of us worry about something. We may worry about getting a dreaded disease, whether we will ever get that promotion, or some other thing that truly bothers us. However, the poor have true concern whether their physical needs will be met or not. They are consumed with thoughts of worry, even panic, over income and if their job will hold out one more day. They often worry about losing their job, for if they did they would have no resources to draw on until another job came along.
Causes of Poverty
There are many opinions given by well meaning, but ignorant people on why a certain individuals are poor. Often, the poor are very hard working people and are not to blame for their situation. Following are some of the reasons people find themselves living in poverty.
1. Lack of work
When good jobs are in short supply, an individual may find themselves unable to find a good paying job. They could get a job, but the available jobs are poverty wages. It isn't necessarily that people are picky, but that they understand that many jobs aren't worth the time due to the extremely low salary that is offered. There are other circumstances that cause many to not be able to find adequate work.
2. Lack of adequate income
When a poor person finally obtains good income, they often have so much debt and back payments from the past that it takes a long time to even get back to zero, let alone make progress. This can cause a person to remain in the cycle of poverty. Too, a person may be working hard, but for whatever reason, the income is just not enough. Often they cannot take the time necessary to look hard for a good paying job, because they cannot afford the time off of work. Again, a cycle is in place that is difficult to escape.
3. Circumstances beyond control
Many are in poverty due to circumstances they cannot control. Maybe it is a divorce that leaves a mother with children to raise without adequate financial resources. Some find themselves in a lawsuit they don't deserve, but lack the resources to obtain a good lawyer, and therefore unable to defend themselves in court. There are a myriad of circumstances that can lead to poverty that are not the fault or within the control of the individual or family that it affects.
4. Bad choices
Yes some are in poverty due to bad choices such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, bad investments, chasing false dreams, or other choices that are the fault of the individual. Too, laziness causes some to live a life of poverty. These people need to learn the value of hard work in order to improve their situation.
5. Lack of compassion
Many are stuck in a cycle of poverty and cannot get out of it themselves. The one thing that could get them out of poverty is a financial break. However, there are many with the financial resources to help these people, but they selfishly consume their money on themselves. I encourage you to look around and see those in need around you and reach out and help them. They are not necessarily looking for a hand out. They just need that one break that will give them enough to make progress ahead. Don't look to the government to do anything about it. They have proved for a long time now that they are not the answer to poverty. Churches need to step up to the plate and give to the poor rather than spending money on buildings that are over the top with architecture. Churches could learn to do without all the modern conveniences and techie tools, so that the needs of the poor around them could be met. Too, neighboorhoods could make a difference in the fight against poverty. If you have a neighbor struggling with poverty reach out to them in love, and help them any way you can. You may not be able to change the world, but you can change their world for the better.
Dealing with poverty
If you find yourself living in poverty I want to give you some tools to help you deal with it. My goal is not to give you advice on how to overcome it. I may deal with that in another hub. Here, my goal is to give you tools you need to deal with the present situation you find yourself in.
1. Understand that you are not alone
There are hundreds of millions of people all over the world who live in poverty. The struggle is to think that you are the only one. You are not. You are part of a mass group of people who find themselves in poverty, though these people are valuable individuals.
2. Get out of the zone
When you are in poverty, there is real temptation to think only in the moment for survival. Learn once again to see the big picture, and to look ahead. Remember that there is more to life than making money. Develop those relationships in your life. Take walks in the park, which is free, and enjoy life. Some day we will all die. You can't take your money with you, so don't make money more important than it really is.
3. Enjoy life
Poor people can be happy. They can enjoy life. There are so many enjoyments in life to be had that don't involve money. Take joy in the little things. Enjoy your family, and give your children a legacy of love, which is worth far more than riches.
4. Recognize that poverty has its advantages
Yes, there are advantages to being poor. The poor have the opportunity to appreciate the simpler things in life that the rich often overlook. In fact the Bible states that God has chosen the poor to inherit heavenly riches (James 2:5). This does not mean that all poor people will be in heaven, but Jesus did say that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to make it into heaven (Matthew 19:23,24). Why? Because they are so focused on obtaining earthly wealth, that they have no time to invest in true eternal wealth. Remember, that when God walked the Earth in the Person of Jesus that He chose to live in poverty.
5. Remember what money cannot buy
Money cannot buy happiness, love, peace, fulfillment, thankfulness, family, friends, and many other things that truly brings meaning to life.
Poverty is a reality in this world. It doesn't have to destroy us. As we help each other, there will be less poverty. Also, as we keep our focus on the important things of life, poverty will not have the last word.