If we are ever going to solve the poverty problem we all have to get involved. We have to start from the ground up, instead of waiting for those at the top to save us. They won´t.
It is impossible to know the depth of the problem or the challenges you face unless you live through an experience.
I clearly remember going to see a client who was behind in paying several invoices. It was March, and we were still waiting for payment for the work done in December, January and February. There had been some confusion over invoices and changing payment terms etc. which had caused some delay, but that was not even the biggest problem. When I got a little agitated or should I say desperate, the client said:
"I don´t see what the problem is?"
- The problem was I was waiting to pay my mortgage with that money.
- The problem was I was already on a tight rope with the bank. Getting that money meant the difference between foreclosure or keeping my house.
- The problem was there was three weeks of the month left and my husband and I had 100 euros left between us.
- The problem was I had no credit card, no credit, so no options.
- The problem was I was a self-employed person not a small business with a bigger cash flow to juggle.
I don´t look poor so I must be OK right?
I have skills so I must be able to find work right?
I am educated so I should be able to manage my finances right?
The further up the political and financial chain you go, the further you are from the problems faced by those at the bottom.
"We all have bills to pay... we all have to make sacrifices".
I hear this often from those blaming the less fortunate for their situation.
- You can´t compare having to downgrade your Mercedes to having to lose your only form of transport.
- You can´t compare having to sell one of your properties to losing your only property.
- You can´t compare having to use the public health service to having no access to health care.
So who makes the rules for the rest of us to live by? Those furthest removed from the most vulnerable.
When you get to the top level your focus is keeping thousands of clients and shareholders happy. How can you understand why so many people in the developed world live under the poverty line? Why would you care when it doesn´t affect you directly, when you can´t feel the pain?
I am not trying to paint all those with money as evil, power hungry monsters - although some are! I am simply saying they are not in the best position to look after the rest of us. They are in the business of profit, not people.
“I’m not against people who have money, who like money, who go crazy for money,” Mujica said. “But in politics we have to separate them. We have to run people who love money too much out of politics, they’re a danger in politics… People who love money should dedicate themselves to industry, to commerce, to multiply wealth. But politics is the struggle for the happiness of all.” Jose Mujica
There are focus groups, committees and advisors to represent the disadvantaged. However, as the input gets passed up the chain the message gets diluted. Information is summarised, personal opinions are added and the final report is a shadow of the real situation. The message received by decision makers is a general overview, with emotionless statistics.
So what is the answer?
We need people from all walks of life to have a voice. Not just once every four years, but at every step of the process which will affect millions of us. Unfortunately, for the rules to change it needs action from the people who don´t want them to change. So we need to stop voting in new puppets and sit back waiting for things to magically happen.
We need to stop fighting and start doing.
- We need to fight corporations ruining our food and our health by not buying their products.
- We need to be more self-sufficient with neighbourhood food gardens and community programs.
- We need to teach future generations the art of flexible working. #alternativeincome
- We need to stop waiting on ´them´ and start helping each other.
We need to #saveourselves