The only way to take control of your life, raise your standard of living and move beyond merely surviving is to create your own unique product or service that you offer to increasing numbers of people in exchange for the things of value that you desire. This simple formula applies to countries as well as people. A self-sufficient economy has its own products or services of value to export to the world. Similarly, a self-sufficient individual has something of value to exchange in the global marketplace. That thing of value is based on your natural talent, skill, or interest—in other words, your passion!
Recently, a friend and I had a discussion which had me thinking about the assumptions people make about individuals and nations that are classified as poor or poverty-stricken.
This is not meant to be a definitive treatise on the definition and dilemma, nor the causes and consequences nor the solutions and salvation for these concepts we call “poverty” and “prosperity.” It is offered as a peak into some thoughts that might allow you to step outside common assumptions and the standard paradigm in order to add some new ways of looking at things.
A few thoughts about nations
As it affects nations, poverty is a condition of the environment brought about by the manipulation of economic and societal forces. A nation can be afflicted with poverty for many reasons.
Nations can become poor if their resources--human and mineral--are exploited for the benefit of another nation's prosperity.
Nations can become poor if wars are fought on their soil, and their infrastructure, and the will of the people are destroyed.
A nation can sink deeper into poverty if it becomes easier for it to rely on outside help than to become self-sufficient. For example, if, because of trade regulations or government subsidies for citrus farmers in one rich nation, it becomes cheaper for a poorer nation to import oranges than grow them itself, then this makes poverty and dependence more likely.
A nation can also sink deeper into poverty if farmers are not allowed to grow and store their own seeds. For example, if they are forced—by market practices and trade regulations—to purchase the genetically-modified/owned seeds of a corporation in a prosperous country, then they will never develop the means for their own economic independence.
In our carefully constructed, man-made society, nothing happens by accident. Everything is by design. Laws and regulations are created for a purpose and with an agenda. Think about it. If there is a natural desire and urge in humans toward survival and self-sufficiency, and if a tree will grow by simply planting a seed, then what accounts for the inability of a person and ultimately a nation, to begin to extricate itself from poverty? In other words, no nation simply arrives at a state of poverty and dependence randomly. There are many external forces at play that one should consider in any discussion about poverty as it affects nations.
It's all a construct, my friend
Similarly, when you talk about individual achievements of financial success within a society, there are many things that we take to be normal, that are not, in fact, natural.
Remember this: this thing we call financial success, this idea we call wealth, this aspiration we call prosperity is based on a construct that says, among other things, more is better, the earth is ours to rape and pillage, consumerism is the order of the day, we must keep getting richer and richer by any means necessary. This “infinite growth through greed” concept is an unnatural construct imposed on the masses by ways of thought that are not in alignment with the natural order of things. A civilization could just as easily choose to base its civilization upon harmony, sustainability, and meeting (not exceeding) the needs of the people, as Gandhi famously said.
So, when you look at a nation that is not prosperous within this unnatural construct, and notice within that society the existence of other such factors of low morale, low self-esteem, inferiority complexes, educational deficits, etc, and then equate them, you may be committing a cardinal sin of analysis: equating correlation with causation. You think, "because these two factors exist together, one must cause the other."
Similarly, when you look at a person who is not prosperous, and then conclude that there must be something “wrong” with him or her that is causing their economic state, you are similarly using an invalid yardstick for measurement.
In fact, everything's a construct.
Now, if, for some reason, you DO want to make such assessments of better than or worse than, I suggest to you this: that the standards by which an individual or nation are judged as desirable, valuable, worthy, good, or bad, if you will, etc.,
(a) have nothing to do with what we consider education (because that, too, is a construct of society which determines what information is considered valuable, and which is not.)
(b) have nothing to do with what we consider beauty (because that, too is a construct of society which determines which features and appearance is considered attractive, and which are not)
(c) have nothing to do with anything constructed. You can choose to find and use different measurements and means for determining what is desirable, authentic, good and bad in your world.
Remember: If it's not natural, it's a construct.
When I say that something is a “construct,” I simply mean it has been constructed. It is something decided and agreed upon first by a few, then by the followers in a group or society ostensibly to ensure the survival of that group or society. Just think about what qualifies as “education” and “required reading” when one nation falls under the control of another. It's all just a construct, you see. It's an idea that has been accepted and adopted as normal, but it's not necessarily the natural order of things. It's just a decision. Every distinct and separate group can decide to create and live according to different constructs.
The Point, here.
So, (and I finally get to one of my points), if you experience poverty, whether in your personal life, or as a nation, it has nothing to do with any inherent inferiority--there's nothing genetically wrong--
in your makeup. The inability or choice not to function in a certain way and produce specific results in what is an unnatural environment, should never be used to assign value and worth to an individual, group or nation. Similarly, just because most everyone has decided to play an alien game, does not make those who are playing it, any "better" than those who do not. It just means they've decide to practice, play and master the game. But, the game itself, you see, is flawed.