Have you ever felt ashamed to be well fed and clothed, a roof over your head and money to spend on things you like while there exist those who are hungry, unclothed and/or living exposed to the elements? Have you ever wondered what you have done to deserve this luck, of being born into a household which didn’t have to worry where the next meal comes from? Those of you who belong to one or other of the religions have easy answers to such questions. Some believe it is all karma, those who did not lead a good life in their previous birth are being punished in this one. There are others whose belief states that a life of trials and tribulations on earth means when they die they will be rewarded in heaven with everything they have ever wanted.
I am sure there are more scenarios of the kind outlined in the different religious texts, very conveniently explaining away the vast differences in the way humans live. I scoff at every one of them. They are nothing but salves to soothe the guilt of living well while others around you are suffering. The truth is some of us have been lucky, others not so. To dress up that luck as the will of the divine is ingenious and useful to the manipulators. Also shameful. That’s my opinion, in case you are wondering.
No, I do not have a solution. Those who see and report a problem need not be the ones who provide the solution too unlike what some of the internet jerks believe. I only know that everyone needs to have their basic needs met. No one should have to go hungry, or have no way to protect themselves from the elements. Basic amenities should be a given wherever. We do have competent people to whom we should listen. If we put our heads together we can surely come up with a solution?
But, I am rather naïve, aren’t I? How can this be important enough? The important stuffs are fighting wars, enslaving people, bickering over which religion is the better one, whose Gods are the more powerful. Who has time to think of those like the poor woman who sat by the roadside and cried for herself and her hungry children wondering whether gathering them and jumping into the river was a better option? She told me her story, and of the day she rummaged through a dead old man’s cloth bundle, hoping to find something for her children whom she had left in the care of an old woman while weakened as she was from lack of food, went in search of work.
How can we as a society, which includes me, look in the mirror at ourselves when there are desperate ones like her? This is as much a question to myself as it is to all of you out there.
© Shail Mohan 2021
Mister Bump UK said:
No, I never feel ashamed. I want to do the best that I can for myself. I want society to do the best it can for people in general. Those two principles only come into conflict very rarely.
You express and interesting point of view. It is not always the ‘fault’ of the poor that they suffer and it is amazing how many people of all races and religious persuasions do to try and alleviate their distress in various ways. Yet, the people who tend to turn a blind eye are those whose wealth is absurd – do they live in a self-indulgent bubble? Have they considered how their wealth has grown? Do they sleep peacefully knowing they have not exploited those less well off for their own gain? There is so much corruption that eats away from the best intentioned projects and lip-service about ‘upliftment’ is spouted in large quantities, especially around election time! Very little comes of it in the end.
Indeed, there are many who are doing what they can to help better the situation, with or without religious affiliation. The depressing thing is the amounts people are willing to donate to build a house for God is so far removed from the wages they are willing to pay the labourers for the work they do to build it. This is an example of what I feel ails our society. We are in the middle of a circus where a prestigious temple is set to be built. I can bet you anything that the labourers would be paid a pittance. I personally feel no one anywhere should have to go hungry, that it is our collective responsibility that no one does. And I am extremely grateful to those among us who do more than their share to help, and bring about change.
I am with you all the way!
Limp Cabbage and Soggy Chips said:
I am steeped in survivor guilt of every form, style and type. I feel guilty for living for longer than my mother. I feel guilty about having a family, unlike my father, who lives alone. I feel guilty for having a well-paying job as against tons of people in my extended family who are dependents and hate it. I feel miserable because I can’t do anything about my mom having died, my dad being lonely, and my cousins stuck in a marriage only because they don’t have an option. I hate feeling this way all the time.
I can relate to what you have said. I feel for people I have never met. Injustice anywhere makes me sick. I know others around me don’t really get it.
I agree with Anne. Corruption plays a huge part in causing the poverty of many people. I believe there is enough for everybody to be provided with basic needs. I also believe that the more you have the more responsibility you have. You are responsible for job creation and for the well-being of your staff. If you fail, your failure affects the families you employ.
There are rich and caring people in our world but sadly there are those in powerful positions who are totally corrupt.
I agree. Greed and corruption are the bane of our existence.
Personally I find it pointless to feel ashamed or guilty about the poor, without doing anything about it. I do my best to donate to good causes, and never shy away from tipping generously. ‘Share the wealth’ is my motto as well as my religious teaching, and I observe it even more as the pandemic has wrecked havoc on countless livelihoods. It’s opened my eyes to the cracks in capitalist government welfare policies.
Thanks for your comment.
Apologies that I sound like I’m invalidating your feelings. That was not my intention!
It’s okay, I understand 🙂