How can a poor man stand such times and live?

By The Editors

Date Posted: Monday, 14 June 2010


Poverty remains a problem for most families and children on this earth. One rationale for the capitalist market economy is that it creates wealth for everyone as its riches cascade down to the poorest.  The fluid of the cascade has long dried up by the time it reaches those huddled in the ruins of Port au Prince, or the street children scavenging the rubbish heaps of Mexico City.

The essence of the market economy is competition. In competition there are winners and losers. and to be second in a competition is said to be nowhere.  It is to be defeated. Yet historically, continuous warring and frightening chaos has been avoided because there are people who, however unhappily, have been prepared to possess less worldly gear and to accept being the defeated. Victors forget that, and when the vanquished try to unite in order to appeal, not for a chance of victory, but for the compassion that will allow them to continue to survive and retain some dignity, the powerful finance armies  beat them down. This process operates for the mass as it does for individual children and their families. Are we as human beings who are notionally possessed of the capacity to reason,  irrepressably impelled to use it for our own individual interests ? Must we try not only to survive but to survive in greater comfort than others ? Or, do we have a purpose to ensure all have an equal chance to live a decent life and, when that proves difficult, should we be at hand to take those who suffer into our own homes ?  Are we able to say, “Suffer the children to come unto us” if they need help or will we say, as we in the United Kingdom seem to be saying to immigrant children from Afghanistan, “Clear off back to your own country because we’re not going to spend our money feeding you.”

Though predictable, it is nonetheless saddening, that in the midst of the current worldwide financial catastrophe that it is the wealthy who suffer least while governments browbeat the less well off into bearing the brunt of the financial penalties caused by the recession. This is bad news for the increasing number of children who will experience poverty. Poor families are more likely to be unhappy families. The children of poor people tend to fail.  They are after all, in our current societal system, losers. “Chuck them a few coppers but keep them out of our neighbourhood.”  How can a poor man stand such times and live ?

There are exceptions.  A child may develop an intrinsic resilience that allows survival. Ted Woolvett’s story of an unhappy childhood in an angry family in this issue of the goodenoughcaring Journal evidences this. Sadly he is not the exception that proves the rule. Although his family were neither  wealthy nor poor, he was impoverished by a lack of love. He has without real complaint struggled – with some success –  to overcome this ever since. There are different kinds of poverty.  Poor children always suffer.

It is a consolation to us that we have generous contributions to our current issue from people who, though they would not own to it, are trying, in the face of the challenges we have mentioned, to help their neighbours.

Evelyn Daniel, Siobain Degregorio, Jane Kenny, Mark Smith, Ariola Vishnja and Charles Sharpe, (Editorial group).

Link : Ry Cooder

Reference  :  Alan Travis, “UK to deport child asylum seekers to Afghanistan”  :   The Guardian, 7th June, 2010.