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TONI THORNE: Stop glorying poverty


TONI THORNE: Stop glorying poverty

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HAVE YOU EVER ENGAGED in a conversation with someone who tried to “one-up” you on how poor you are?

Conversations which start with statements such as “I am so poor . . . ” where you and the person go on for approximately 15 minutes trading stories on who is the poorer.

This is different from people having sentimental moments and looking back on their childhoods which were filled with genuine poverty. This is also different from someone divulging or speaking about his or her unfortunate financial situation. I am speaking about conversations where people behave as though it is glamorous to be poor. This is popularly referred to as “slumming” it.

There is nothing enchanting about being poor. Quite frankly, if you have the time to praise your situation of poverty, you are either not as poor as you claim to be or grossly insensitive to the billions of people living below the poverty line.

It is admirable when persons of humble origins are able to empower themselves, lifting from paucity and achieving financial success. We should always give credence to these examples.

Corey McClean was correct when he expressed dissatisfaction at the popular retort “poor, peaceful and polite”. This retort always comes across as subservient. Peaceful? A great characteristic. Polite? Another great characteristic. Poor? Something to be considered; something to be measured. 

On another note, it is quite baffling how many of us underscore the achievements of persons who seem to be “better off”. Why is someone’s success less important if they are “better off”? Sometimes, it is harder to maintain than it is to achieve. 

At the risk of receiving a tongue-lashing it is my opinion that all affluent persons are not lazy and all poor people are not industrious. Too often we equate a person’s success with his or her apparent wealth and social connections. Perhaps that person may simply be a very conscientious and diligent worker, working to achieve specific dreams. Another misconception is seen where many people also believe that persons who are financially successful are never greedy. For example, when persons say, “Man no man, he can’t be greedy, he got real money.” Money or lack thereof cannot and does not build character. There are other elements which go into building a strong, healthy and positive character.

It is my aim to implore that we stop glorifying poverty and empower each other to a point where persons who want financial success do not see a need to feel ashamed to proclaim their wants. There is a problem with glorifying poverty. However, there is no problem expressing a desire to be financially successful. Moreover, there is no crime in being poor. These are three, distinct and separate situations.

It is important to note, that my dissatisfaction with the glorification of poverty is in no way an effort on my part to say that poor people do not have happy lives. We can be poor and happy. Often times this is a result of the goals and expectations.  I know many poor people who go through the same issues as genuinely wealthy persons. I know many poor people who are happier than their financially successful counterparts.

Where there are new levels, there are new devils.

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email [email protected]