Poverty is an insidious disease that incapacitates, depresses, and ultimately kills scores of people world-wide. Those afflicted can be old or young, black or white or brown, rich or poor, skinny or obese. Daily more than 50,000 people needlessly die from poverty. Nearly a billion persons unnecessarily suffer, some of them in the midst of plenty.
Yes, endowed persons can and do suffer deprivation and painful premature deaths. Our beloved Nigeria is an example. How could a nation so blessed with countless natural and human resources be so self-cursed that nothing works well? Every statistic that should be high is low and those that should be low are high. Be it about mortality, employment, crime, disease, accident, corruption, greed, human rights, you name it!
Facts are, within the Beverly Hills of the world, you will find poverty staring you in the face, albeit obscured. Inside their mansions, some materially rich folks are, in the prophetic words of Fela, “suffering and smiling”. Poverty is as relative as it is universal. Depravity comes in various colors, shapes, sizes, and degrees. It’s not just about money as some would erroneously portray. How you define it, is your version of poverty.
Poverty effects are profound on both the individual and society. Humanity should find an affordable cure; until then, each person should do what he or she can to prevent and treat this pandemic. Personal responsibility should be called to arms. Moreover, it’s easier to steer a small boat (the individual)than it’s to turn around a big ship(society). So it behooves one to start with one’s self.
Poverty is slavery, per African (Somalian) adage. The Book says the poor will always be among us. Gandhi stated “poverty is the worst form of violence”. And Einstein said no problem could be solved by the same level of consciousness that created it. I ask what can one do to minimize depravity?
We all have heard or witnessed “rags to riches” stories. Books have been written to show us how to better ourselves. There are road maps to improve ourselves, both individually and collectively. It’s never easy! Are we willing to work harder, sacrifice more, and implement better strategies to improve our lot? Or are we going to be shy and perpetuate the cycle of poverty by blaming everything and everyone but ourselves? Or are we going to put our feet down and say “enough” and break this miserable cycle? “With God, all things are possible”, but we need to do our part.
Education and implementation: It’s important to know what to do. However, it’s critical to put that knowledge to perpetual praxis.
Foster Relationship With Right People: Knowing lots of people is good, knowing the right kind of people is even better. Beware, that receptionist may aid you more than the manager. As the saying goes, “it’s not what you know; it’s who you know”. Be ready to “give” before you can “receive”.
Financial Planning: Start saving early and often. Little drops of savings do make the mighty ocean of wealth. Create additional income sources. Don’t take too much or too little risks. Capital preservation should be paramount. First acquire money management skills and then impart folks you can reach. Most people are embarrassed to discuss these life skills. They fear that if they catechize about saving money, they would be labeled “have it all or know it all”. As I wrote in a previous article, that mentality makes “money” a dirtier word than sex. Neither should be dirty; both are pertinent when used as intended!
Healthier Living: Make exercise and healthier living a priority in your family. Watch what you eat and what you feed your children. One sick family member affects the lives of all members. Sedentary lifestyle prematurely kills. The healthy you, is a wealthy you!
Family Planning: Consider having as many children as you can afford. When is enough really enough? The God that gave you children does not want you to raise them in poverty.
Era of Self-reliance: It’s prudent to help others in need. However, each person needs to hold his or her end of the bargain. Politicians are raising this alarm with their code words for budget and deficit reduction. Governments can’t do it all.
Eschew Culture of Poverty: Lavish funerals and excessive title rituals set wasteful precedents and should be curtailed. Expensive funerals did not raise any Pharaoh from the dead then and will not resurrect any Lazarus today. It’s unfortunate that even educated Nigerians are fanning the amber of waste and promoting this culture of poverty. Why not invest the resources on the living as tribute to the dearly departed?
It’s proactive to express your wishes as to where and how you wish to be buried: cremation or formal burial, internment here or in Nigeria. And save to fund your choice. Don’t leave it to the grieving spouse to deal with the fallout from your family members here and in Nigeria.
Terrible governments and (yes) citizens-supported corruption and other social problems have continued to plagued Nigeria. Many people suffer and die in the midst of abundance. Several have been forced into exile within and outside Nigeria. Insecurity and disease and crime alarmingly abound while few drain the collective coffers with impunity.
The bottom line is everyone’s losing: both the rich and the poor, the rulers and the subjects, the sectarian victims and victimizers, the robbed and the armed robbers, the kidnapped and their kidnappers. For the betterment of all, let us reduce poverty, the slavery of today.
These words of musician John Mayer (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBIxScJ5rlY) ring so true:
“Now we see everything that’s going wrong
With the world and those who lead it
We just feel like we don’t have the means
To rise above and beat it”
So how long are we going to “keep on waiting for the world to change”? Wouldn’t we rather start with the masterpiece in the mirror?
Chuks U.C. Ukaoma lives in Austin, Texas, U.S.A. Email: [email protected]