Saturday, November 10, 2007

Poverty: The Glass is Half-Full, Not Half-Empty

For as long as our racial memories allow--- our people have been fighting poverty. I'm annoyed. I'm peeved. I'm sick to death with all the negative, hopelessness permeating in the air. I get it that it is so damn hard to see past misery, it breaks your heart seeing a kid kill herself because she has lost hope. People have been asking and not for the first time nor the last, why hasn't there been a tickle down effect? The rich are partying and the poor are still poor. And as Jon (who I totally agree with in his post) has put it correctly: the blame game continues.

We blame government and in this case, some people blame Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Now don't get me wrong, we can blame her for a lot of things--- but poverty and hopelessness wasn't invented by Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. If she wasn't in power, we'd be blaming who was. It was Erap when he was President and we kicked him out for all those illegal gambling activities in that farce we created, remember? It was Ramos when he reigned. It was Cory when she was in charge and it was Marcoss when he ruled. Don't get me wrong, I don't believe they're innocent because they and, generations of our leaders have some blame, some blood on their hands--- but they're not entirely to blame, not even half the reason.

People have been wearing Black and White, as if in life there are absolute truths and no shades of grey or some other color of T-Shirt for generations picketing on some issue, continuously blaming who's in charge. They carry slogans and have them printed out, splashed across T-Shirts, newspaper ads, the Internet or whatever canvas they could find. The problem with slogans and t-shirts, they all fade in the wash.

Let's put credit where credit is due and blame where blame is due.

Many lives have been transformed by the wealth being generated by Filipinos working abroad. It is the refuge of a population where we find so few jobs in country that greater opportunities exist elsewhere. We're not the only country in the freaking planet to find greener pastures elsewhere. There is no disputing that the lifeblood of this country has been Filipinos living abroad.

Many have looked at the state of the country's economy for years, and we've been drowning in explanation and analysis that hasn't really changed much has it? Our people are still wondering, why the common public consensus is the hopelessness we breathe in day in and day out.

Have we paused and stopped and thought that instead of wearing black and white and yelling and blaming others--- for things we can not change that perhaps, we ought to focus on the things that we can? Yes, standing up against a government that often abuse its power is well and good. Those things are important but that's not all we need to accomplish and more importantly, can accomplish.

Those of us that do have a bit more, isn't it our responsibility to grow that wealth? Isn't it our responsibility to put that work to good use, by building businesses, creating jobs and thus employing people? Didn't we learn in Religion class or in theology class or in Church that teaching someone to fish is much better than fishing for them?

Poverty is everywhere. It lives in the land of the free. It is living in first world countries and it thrives in countries that are developing. To fight poverty you don't even have to be an entrepreneur, you don't need slogans and T-Shirts or to go blame government why there isn't any tickle down effect. There are no instant answers and the road to nation building is a tough one and we can't help everyone right now but that doesn't mean everything is hopeless. Many employ drivers, or maids--- that spreads wealth. Some even go far as to help educate their house-help, or the children of their house-help to give those people a change at a better life down the road. Ordinary Filipinos day in and day out help their relatives get on their foot--- some provide for the education or give jobs to their relatives. We're not entirely powerless to fight poverty or to help in the struggle against it. It is the Christian thing to do, work, grow the wealth, share the wealth: the glass is half-full, not half-empty.