It’s funny how I am writing in this blog about the poor, as if they are abstract and distant. In fact the opposite is quite true. I am, by purely economic standards, one of them. My employment consists of working at a frozen yogurt shop part time; that’s it. My income will most likely not exceed $10,000 this year, and I can assure you my weekly pay is rarely, if ever $210. Heck, I’m lucky if my bi-weekly paycheck is that much. It’s a struggle to even pay for necessities such as gas, food, and rent. My dad gives me money every month too, which helps immensely, but I’m not a fan of that system. I, like many in my situation I suspect, prefer to be independent.
I write this not for pity, and I’m fully aware that by the world’s standards I am rich. I am especially rich in social capital which is more like the promise of monetary wealth and resources, and it can -in some ways- be better than actual capital. However, I feel the ache that all poor get when they don’t know how they will pay their bills. This feeling is transcendent despite how much is in a pay check. It is simply having a net income that is smaller than the expenses of the basic necessities.
With a twist of irony, however, I can say that I am proud to start off at such a humbling position in life. If I’m really passionate about ending poverty, then I feel it is necessary to walk in those shoes. It has given me the chance to reflect on what poverty is, who it can affect, and how to provide solutions for it.
I also recognize that my social capital does (or at least will) make a difference. It gives hope. As I said before, this type of capital is more important in the long run, and this is also something that the poor internationally need. That is what I hope to provide for them eventually, because I believe that is how poverty is beaten. Throwing money at an issue, but not connecting with the people, rarely (if ever) solves the issue of poverty, and even if it did, it is true that wealth alone does not create happiness. Meaningful relationships as well as the ability to provide for one’s self is what produces balance and happiness and that can be gained with social capital.
So while I’m dealing with some challenges now, I am confident that these challenges will lead me to a better future and give me a sense of empathy and understanding for others in my (or worse) position. I believe that this path will also lead me to realizing how important social capital is in my own life and how I can create that climate for others.
Me before my first job interview this summer… that I did not get.