Monday, March 16, 2015

Poor People are Built for Generosity

A new short film shows that sometimes, people who have less give more.  (link)The idea that people who experience extreme poverty are more generous is not new.  To me, its part of the culture of poverty.  I grew up in poverty, and my mother was always clear that we should help those less fortunate, and never think of our lives as more valuable than the next.
I would say that out of the hundreds of homeless I have worked with over the years, at least 60% of them said they want to help others once they recover, by working in the field, talking in schools, etc.

It's also not a stretch to think that those who save their pennies carefully are less likely to reach out to the poor.  I watched a video of Paul McCartney walking through New York, chatting with people, signing autographs, etc.  When a man who looked homeless approached him, and shook his hand, he seemed happy to see him.  But when the man pulled him in a little closer, asking him to help him with a personal crisis, Paul backed off, walking away saying "I cant help you with that, take care." Now we absolutely know that Paul has a ton of cash, but we also know him as a man who knows how to hold on to his wealth, as most wealthy people do. This scene is absolutely normal.  Rich people are rich for a reason.

Of course, we've now reached the end game of the wealth-generation experiment, as though we were in the last round of a giant monopoly game.  It hardly seems worth it to pass go and get the $200.00 when every property on the board has a little red motel on it, but we are going through the motions.

In this next chapter, I believe we will see the hope, optimism, and generosity of those with experience of poverty shine through.  The money managers served their purpose and brought stability to the world, but now that the wealth is so concentrated, most of the world is paralyzed, waiting for the billionaires to get bored enough to change things.

No comments: