Tag Archive - Poverty

Diagnosing TBA: The BUY Addiction

We buy stuff all the time. Some people have to buy something every single day, if not an item then at least a cup of coffee! They’re not living if they’re not entering into a store and spending some money.
Exercise: Count how many days a week go without buying anything, anywhere. If you buy something almost every day, or can’t go out without buying something, then you know you’re dealing with TBA!
Don’t you think that I am immune to that! Hey, if I write about some problem, it’s likely that I do or did experience it at some point!
Buying addiction is a serious problem in richer societies. It disturbs our inner balance as individuals as well as our global balance as a human community sharing one Earth.
We can see this global imbalance manifest in different ways:
1. Waste and surplus for some, starvation for many.
The rich societies that consume most of the resources contribute to a moral imbalance, which is a manifestation of injustice and selfishness. When food and cloths are thrown away in one part of the world, while hundreds of millions of humans can hardly eat, dress and find adequate shelter, something is grossly wrong.
Humans are meant to be one family with acceptable variations in wealth, but with a universal standard of dignity and availability of human needs for all, which our Earth naturally provides, if it wasn’t for the shameful greed and selfishness of some.
2. In order to buy more and cheap, the poor have to accept labor slavery.
Because money seems to be the God of an overwhelming number of businesses, they don’t see a problem meeting the needs of buyers for more and cheap by moving to poor countries where they can have labor camps. Humans who work most of their waking hours, in very poor conditions, for a pay that will barely help them survive. This imbalance is simply expressed in the fact that a worker could be paid in a week what we spend on a lunch for one!
All for the sake of us going into the store and buying a gadget that we might not use and didn’t need in the first place, or for us to be able to buy 5 t-shirts instead of just one. Wow, what a progress, we can have all those t-shirts and shoes in all the different colors. Boy hadn’t our life become much better with that!!!
3. More of the things that we don’t need end up creating mountains of toxic trash, and heavily polluted Earth.
Because people buy things they don’t need, they end up getting rid of them. In the worse manner possible: throwing them in the trash. Our addiction to keep buying stuff that we don’t need lead to factories producing more unnecessary stuff. Because they want to make them cheap, they use toxic material that will keep the cost low. Then this satanic cycle end with landfills full of toxic waste that no one really knows why it was even created to start with.
We lost, the buyers. We lost money and inner peace. They lost, the workers. They lost their life and energy to the factories. It lost, our Earth, and our future. It became full of toxic waste. The only ones who gained are the businesses, only a minority. Are those guys worth all those losses and suffering?!!

Heavy possessions!

A much needed simple living movement has been growing. People living in rich Western societies starting to realize that having more things didn’t make them any happier. Not only it didn’t make them happier, it actually decreased the quality of our life. The more stuff we have, the more stress we feel. Shopping became a new form of a distraction drug. We buy stuff in a state of half awareness, and we wake up to find more things that clutter our life and we don’t know why we bought them in the first place.

One saying of Prophet Muhammad keeps coming back to my mind, brief and to the point of this human misery. It’s hard to render it in English and keep it’s original brief power, but he simply said that having less stuff that gives us what we need is better than having much stuff that ends up distracting us.
The truth is, we feel more fulfilled with less, clear things. Once things increase in number, we start to loose control and loose track. We start actually loosing them. A place in our heart will keep worrying about those rarely used items. Our heart knows better. May be it worries how our world is going wrong, when we have things that we don’t use, while other humans are in dire need of those same things. We fill our plate at this open buffet, but we never get to finish it all. The food goes to the trash. Trash full of food in one place; human stomachs empty of food in another. That’s an insane paradox, totally unhuman.
If we really want to enjoy things, we actually need to have less of them. That’s a proven fact. Some experiments found that children given too many toys to choose from lost interest and were lost and bored, while those given a fewer number were engaged and satisfied. I don’t mean we don’t have nice things. In fact, since we will buy less stuff, we can then invest in the ones that we really, really like and enjoy. We get less, higher quality stuff. Every piece will matter to us, and will have a place in our heart.

American Mexican Border, Fence Or No Fence?

God created Adam and Eve, and from them descended billions upon billions of people. Equal in their humanity, due to their one origin, they came different in many other aspects: color, tongue, religion, and place of birth. Among those children, some were born in what is currently known as the USA, some others were born further north (Canada), yet some others found themselves in a place totally different from the rest of the continent, a poor country with the name of Mexico.

In our present time, Americans don’t have the smallest problem with their northern border; beyond it lays a brotherly country with a similar style of life and economic conditions. No Canadian enters the US illegally, because their birth given pieces of paper, called citizenship documents, allow them free movement. But more importantly, their conditions of life do not make them feel that fleeing their mother land is the only way out of inhuman conditions. And this is what makes the southern border a complete opposite. On the other side of this border, millions feel that they are deprived of their basic human rights and needs. Their human nature, shared with all other humans anywhere in the world, is to escape from danger, and to look for ways to survive. The closest solution to their dead-end conditions is a rich country whose media promises equal opportunity for everyone, a happy life and easy money. It is close, but not easily accessible. Millions with otherwise no hope are willing to risk all their money, and even their life, for a chance to find themselves in the northern side of the border. They are not sure what to expect once in America, all they think of at this time is to escape and to get there.

And here the problem starts and grows. Millions cross the southern border into the US. They enter and stay in the country undocumented, another word for “unknown of”. People are nowadays reduced to papers, if they are not on paper, they don’t exist. But they do exist, no matter what the papers say or don’t say. They work, rent apartments, pay bills and spend money every day. They will even have kids who will automatically be US citizens. But on paper, they remain in the shadow. Some look at this situation as a healthy and necessary one. Those poor, undocumented workers have to accept any job; they don’t have much of a choice. Businesses will prefer them because they work long hours without complaining, and they accept lower wages. They are good for the business, so they should stay and keep coming. On the other side of the debate (not the border!) stand those who see the danger of having millions living in the shadow. Their solution to the problem? Well, building a 700 mile long fence, high enough that Mexicans will not be able to climb it!

To say the least, the idea of building this fence reflects a great lack of creativity. It suggests a superficial solution to a complicated problem. Illegal immigration is not an illness, it’s a symptom of a complicated one, and we all know that treating the symptom is of no real help. Those who cross the border every year in terrible conditions risk their life, with the fence on their way, they will just figure out other ways to go for their quest of a new land. Let’s also not forget that they represent a multi-million dollar business for smugglers, and this kind of business will always find ways to keep going and making money. The fence would be a distraction as far as the real sources of the problem, which would let the problem grow bigger and bigger, until it eventually destroys the fence itself.

The kind of fence required to block the border is neither an easy nor an affordable project. All the money and efforts and time that will be spent to build it could be used for more realistic and fruitful action toward solving the problem. What if this kind of money is to be spent on US-Mexican partnership aiming to improve the conditions of life in Mexico, which would lessen the number of those willing to risk their life to escape from their country?

History teaches us lessons for our present and our future: Once upon a time, not too long ago, a big “fence” separated two countries, people on the eastern side wanted to flee to the western one, and they kept trying, until they no longer needed to, when the Wall of Berlin came down. I believe that the fence, if built, will not have a better luck.