There are many ideas of poverty. I was grown as a poor kid in a Medellín´s commune (poor and violent), but it does not make me an authorized voice to say what poverty is at all. Sociologists, policy designers and other scientists study poverty, so they can make more exact definitions. But some people suggest that poverty is made by people that like to be poor. Out of religious ascetics, it is hardly to find a person or family concluding that they are happy to live in poverty. It is important to make the difference between wealth and the fulfillment of basic services in a society or nation. An objective definition that makes us conclude that a family is poor has to see with deprivation of the basic human needs such as lack of food (or enough nutritional food), water, sanitation, clothing, shelter, health care, access to information and education. The lack of luxury is not included definitely and it is important to note it, because a family living in a simple cottage in a rural area of Cambodia is not poor only by the fact that their cottage has not luxury elements such as furniture or a car. Some people from developed countries are impressed by the simplicity of many families in poor countries and so they compare their houses in Paris or London and conclude such family is “poor”. A family living in a simple cottage is not poor by default. They are poor if they lack the basic conditions as I pointed out.
But poverty is also a vicious circle and a mental attitude. If it is true – and I believe on it – people are not guilty of their own poverty situation. We can suspect that as a mental attitude, it has been imposed in a certain way by certain powerful figures interested in keeping the status quo of poverty in a determined population. In this sense, there is a well organized system to support poverty in order to keep certain interests in a society, the interests of some elites (those that think that poverty brings some benefits and stability to their own keen.) In this system religions, ideologies, education and mass media are used as means to support such point of view, to enforce the idea that we are poor, it is what God wants, to be poor is better than to be rich, poor people will be regarded in Heaven, we are not smart enough to overcome poverty, other societies are rich because they are more intelligent or even more superior races…
If you are a business man and you have thousands of workers thinking in this way, you are likely to have a good production with cheap workman. It will be a great benefit to the national economy because you can promote foreign investment and economical concessions by offering cheap workman as an advantage. Then you need to reinforce this advantages through the promotion of certain religious concepts, ideas, fears, mass media programs, music, films, speeches, censor of information and a manipulated mediocre education. To do so you have to work with the leaders of those means in order to make them work to save the poverty status quo.
I think colonialism worked very much in this sense and a new global market society inherited much of this conception. The division of the planet in first and third world is much obeying this system. Such division comes from the rich, not from the poor. To be classified as a third world country means to be poor forever. Much humanitarian aid comes also to reinforce this intention to keep the poor as a poor, when it creates aid dependency rather than strengthens democracy and development.
Fighting the mental poverty is a duty of any nation and society. Education is a key to it, but also it is necessary to free religions, mass media and others from being used as tool to reinforce mental poverty. Certain countries, especially in Asia, have fought mental poverty through national campaigns of education.
– Jonathan Glennie (2012). Poor people want to be poor, they say. Really? The Guardian, August 3, 2012. Link retrieved on January 4, 2014 from http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/poverty-matters/2012/aug/03/poor-people-want-to-be-poor