When most people mention poverty, they think specifically about being poor and having no money.
But a uni student, can be poor, and have no money, but can also have a large support network and family that feeds them, gives them shelter and clothes them.
Sometimes, poverty is associated with having limited ways of getting food and water, inadequate shelter and sanitation. This is mostly what we associate with poverty in developing countries. But as many people know who have visited developing countries, their spirit, faith, love, hospitality and community are superior.
When helping poor people the main way that this occurs is through charity, either giving money, labor, food or water or other necessary items in some form.
I heard a quote a little while ago that said 'charity gives back what we stole from the poor'... it might have been in Pope Francis, new encyclical. In a perfect world, with no poverty, charity wouldn't be necessary. How do we move away and stop charity and transition into a more just, fair, safe society that supports all people with the basics?
One of my initial thoughts, in Australia as a first world country, would be that we should be shopping local, supporting local, shopping small and ensuring that economically, we are investing our money into companies that provide employment and necessities to everyone. But then, what about all of those uni students above that work at places like woolworths to help support their families? Or would it just be that eventually these smaller shops would out compete the larger shops and cause young workers to work for the smaller shop keepers? Or would the retail giants have to increase their prices to make a profit, reducing the access to food and water for those who cannot afford to shop small?
I have a lot of questions about have a lot of questions about how we should move forward as a society to reduce poverty.
Another thing that I want to briefly discuss is specialisation. I recently learnt, in economics that specialisation is where we get one expert making all of the same specialised items, because it is cheaper to bulk make one item, then to make less of hundreds of items. For example, a baker may be able to make lots of bread, but they may also have skills in gardening, cleaning, teaching, etc. But because they have already invested money in a bakery, it is easier for the baker to make lots of bread, sell it, and then spend money on their kids for them to be able to go to school.... because homeschooling would take away time that the baker could use to make money. I think that specialisation is good, and efficient. What I used to think was that 'I should strive to make everything by hand'.... soap, peanut butter, jam, yoghurt, sewing clothes, growing all of my own fruits and vegetables. And in a way, I do these things for other reasons... I want to know what is in my soap, homemade jam is diving, my garden would just be a waste of grass and weeds if it wasn't for my vegetables. And for pure enjoyment. But economically, it doesn't make much sense for me to invest tonnes of time and money into these activities. Especially because my speialisation is as a teacher. So specialisation is good and efficient, but the system by which specialisation occurs where the packaging of items comes to us, the fossilfuels used to make all of the items, etc etc. I don't like that system.
One of the reasons this is playing on my mind, is because of how I have been using facebook marketplace recently. When we got maggie, we needed a tonne of items for our puppy to look after her. Lead, collar, dog bowls, crate, puppy pads, dog bed etc. Some things I made myself e.g. I put together some pillows and her blanket we were given to make a bed and she loves it. I cut up some old clothes to make rags to clean up poos and wees. But other things I couldn't make myself. So I tried to get dog bowls and a few other things second hand. But when I was organising to go and pick them up, it was going to require a lot of petrol, for me to drive all around brisbane for a few items. I did end up picking up the dog bowls, and I had intended on getting a lead and a collar from the Gold Coast, but decided against it and went and just purchased a new, leather, non-plastic and package free one from k-mart. I do believe that second-hand and sharing resources is an important part of my life now, and how I should purchase most items, but sometimes, economically and to some extent environmentally, it is actually better for me to research and buy an item new.
Purchasing is never an easy choice, and our money does speak volumes. It really is a moral and ethical choice more than anything else.
Please bare this in mind as we move into Christmas.