General Question

chadtapp2's avatar

How can poverty have positive functions for society?

Asked by chadtapp2 (4points) November 12th, 2007
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3 Answers

nerfmissile's avatar

Define poverty. There’s French poverty (can’t retire on pension until the ripe old age of 50, small living space, limited ability to afford chocolate and limitless medical care) versus American poverty (in danger of losing home, living off meager food shelf rations, no health care) versus African poverty (suffering, dying, no reliable shelter, no medical care).

And then there’s “noble poverty”: for example, choosing to get that PhD rather than being the poster child for productive corporate ladder-climbing. Or living the life of an ascetic monk, teaching yoga and meditation.

So, before we can discuss particulars, a flavor of poverty must be chosen.

However, I would draw the line at suffering. I believe that no one deserves to suffer and no truly civilized society will aim to inflict suffering… rather, know civilization by its focus on ending suffering. Poverty categorically overlaps with suffering, but there are aspects and/or degrees of poverty that don’t necessarily involve suffering.

Perhaps there are lessons in non-suffering poverty: valuing relationships and experiences instead of things, dealing with scarcity, frugality, having a small ecological footprint… being reminded that life can be worthwhile and enjoyable without two computers, three cars and a 3,000 square foot home.

mikeyC's avatar

My take is look at this like the food chain only in the reverse. Say we all benefit when poverty in a society becomes the driving force for change. However , who says ” you know that would not have come about had we not been so poor”? Me!!!

okc405's avatar

nerfmissle elequently put.great answer

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