It is quite instructive that the world-community on earth, have had to be classified into three main categories. Today, we have as it were, the first, second and third worlds! This classification must have been informed by such parameters, as cannot be easily controverted by any well informed and truly discerning person!
We hear more of the third world and its peculiar problems, than the other two world-communities! And why? Certainly because of poverty and the connected problems; which is a distinguishing feature-of-life, in the third world. Africa unfortunately belongs to this third world. It is however noteworthy that for the past four decades, much resources have had to be proffered to the third world countries from Western nations, to confront, engage and eradicate poverty. But have all these goodwill-gestures had any decisive turn-around impact and effect? The answer is No. And this is verifiable!
It is therefore high time we took a second look at this very negative phenomenon of life, which rightly understood, is patently akin to a chronic diseased condition; and the peculiar pathogenesis must be understood and put in proper perspective, for the sake of those trapped in it. The time is ripe for mankind to attain the right understanding of the many self-incurred problems and avoidable adversities which, as it were, have dehumanized and degraded the human creature in his life and subsistence on earth!
One odious and discomfiting tone sonorously rings out of the condition of poverty. It is simply lack! And who is primarily culpable and largely responsible for this crushing deprivation? It is the human creature(s)…! And what are those features we would find where poverty has taken-on-form and ravaging? Scarcity of food; not for lack of fertile land and non-availability of seeds and seedlings for planting; inadequate supply of drinkable water-not for lack of volume-driven streams that can be dammed; poor sanitation habits that breed communicable diseases; tendency towards disorderliness, which lack of good governance and serving-commitment, from the tiers of governance/leadership invariably predisposes; and a considerably weakened sense of beauty and sense of shame, which in part predisposes a lack of idealism and altruism, as prime culture-ethic!
In further contemplation of poverty, let us recall the adage which is quite apt in this connection… “As you lay your bed, so you lie on it”…! Therefore, when a people wallow in poverty, the very first thing they should do if they ever want to honestly rise-out-of-poverty, is to look searchingly within themselves. If they can do this, they will discern and see those rough edges of a distorted humanity, in the inner degradation, which is patently the precursor of poverty. With a degraded humanity, inner virtues will not be functional, not to talk of being fruitful. For example, there are such neighbourhoods where quarrelling, fighting and cursing take place on a daily basis. No love, and empathy among neighbours. Such unhealthy human settings cannot possibly anchor beauty orderliness or anything good and edifying. Therefore, it is certainly the poverty within…that makes for the poverty without!
It is also of paramount importance at this point to observe that at the bottom of the incidence of poverty is a reprehensible spiritual-deficit. And two key virtuous endowments of the Creative Will, must now come into focus here, in order to put the issue under contemplation, in proper context! The human sense of beauty; and the human sense of shame… are the two virtuous endowments in the inner being of the human creature, which was imbued therein, by the Creative Will. Around the right functioning of these two endowments in the human creature, are we to see the sheer radiance of an undistorted humanity, which fundamentally disallows the approach of the spectre of poverty!
Therefore, the human creature owes himself the primary duty to bring to the fore and be amendable at all times, to the quiet dictates of the innate sense of beauty, regarding his decisions, choices, preferences, dispositions, perspectives and affiliations i.e. in virtually all facets of his life. If he allows this endowment to weaken through vanity, wrong decisions, and prodigal waywardness that then marks the beginning of the poverty within…which ultimately will manifest in the poverty without! All thoughts, decisions and acts which offend and counter the imperatives of beauty, will bear (reciprocally) bitter and sour fruits in accordance with the “Law of Sowing and Reaping” – which underscores the saying… “As you lay your bed, so you lie on it”…! In this case, poverty then becomes a bed already laid… lying on it will be a foregone certainty!
Likewise, the innate sense of shame was also imbued into the being of the human creature, by the Creative Will, as a natural moral anchor, guarding against… “a letting go”; and the consequent loosening of this heavenly-tied moral belt! It has been established as an all-time truth that…” the sense of shame will always be an infallible measure of the inner worth of a human being…” Any thought and act which runs counter to the dictates of the sense of shame, will necessarily be ugly and foul! And when what is vile, shameless and ugly comes out of a human creature, it is a sure sign of the poverty within, which must necessarily with time manifest in the poverty without!
It is therefore the collective responsibility of every member of the human community, to observe and sense when the two aforementioned virtue-endowments, are being undermined and blunted otherwise, the foundation for poverty would have been inadvertently laid. It must take only a grossly compromised sense of shame, for a former head of the major oil corporation in Nigeria to be caught laundering a staggering amount of money to the tune of 9.8 million US dollars in a detached building, claiming it was a “gift”. He never gave a thought to how many of his people could benefit from that resource, if it was in the right place for legitimate and lawful appropriation! That was a good example of lack of shame which invites the spectre of poverty! Money laundering is a sure recipe for pervasive poverty, when it goes on unchecked.
Over forty years ago, in a top secondary school (attended by the writer) in the South Western part of Nigeria, a glaring case of impudent breach of the imperatives of the sense of beauty was presented. This school, along Oyo-Ibadan expressway, was noted for its flowering gardens, manicured lawns, flower-lined hedges and a general soothing ambience on the school campus! The school earlier had a principal who was a lover of nature (and music); and encouraged the love for nature in the pupils. Another principal later took over from him and saw the whole school setting as a “tropical rain forest” and ordered the cutting down of the “offensive” bushes! Incidentally, the students reacted openly. One would ask of that latter principal-where, and in what state, the his sense of beauty, with his aversion to seeing flowers? Another vivid presentation of inner poverty. Any truly cultured person meeting that same setting, will not do what he did.
In the providential working of the Creative Will, it is always a rich abundance from Nature that the human creature is to experience in his life and subsistence on earth. And one can safely say that the resources of the earth is almost limitless! Therefore, poverty, as a sour and bitter fruit of the spiritual-deficit occasioned by the spiritual fall of man on earth, is completely alien to the providence out of the Creative Will! The rich abundance that mother nature always guarantees is conformed; when we sow a grain of maize…the fruiting and harvest is in multiples. It is not any scientific contrivance from man, that makes this to happen. It will forever be outside of him! Poverty was not anticipated in the work of Creation.
Whenever and wherever poverty rears its ugly head, the culprit is, and can only be, the human creature(s)! Poverty, manifesting physically, is not an arbitrary affliction from an external power or source! It is never an accident or incidence of situational circumstance. It is, and will always be, the concomitant physical condensation, as it were, of inner poverty! A staggering and phenomenal quantum of resources have found their way to the third world countries from international agencies and foreign governments alike! Hardly has a quarter of these resources been spent to actually engage poverty in those countries. Most of it have been stolen or diverted to other uses. And the reason? The inner poverty afflicting the leaders, who happen to have the last say, in the running of affairs in those countries!
Givers never lack… as the saying goes! Incidentally, the first world countries, from where aids and grants to third world countries do come, will perpetually remain on the growth trend. Whoever gives stand to receive…! It is an immutable Law of Creation. The stagnation in positive thinking, selfishness and thieving disposition, which the poverty within… has conditioned in the psyche of the leadership of third world countries, cannot position the countries they govern… to give! When this is case, they will continue to lack; and poverty must feature in their lives.
Nigeria is currently experiencing lack…to the consternation and bewilderment of all men and women of discernment and goodwill, all over the world. It has its own position in the rankings of poor and underdeveloped countries of the world. Apart from the exclusive choice areas in the cites where the irresponsible man-know-man elites live, it is poverty that greets you along the littered streets, where the middle and lower classes live. Municipal water system has broken down, making for poor sanitation and communal cleanliness! Ironically and curiously too, Nigeria has a good ranking among oil producing countries of the world; and ravaging poverty still manifests so noxiously, in the human community in Nigeria. And the reason? Nigeria leaders, all have their psyche in the bondage conditioned by inner poverty.
As earlier stated, poverty is not an arbitrary affliction from without; the root of poverty is within the human creature(s) who have retrogressed spiritually and got inwardly degraded to the point at which such inner degradation has to unavoidably manifest in their external surroundings and circumstances. From a much higher perspective, which is outside the scope of our contemplation at the moment, Poverty could also have peculiar causative antecedents, that predate the present earth-life in the different human communities being held in “bondage” by this nauseating phenomenon of human inner deterioration and degradation.
In human communities on earth, where poverty visibly features and manifests as a reality of communal life…let well-meaning members of those communities look deep and searchingly within themselves, for the avoidable cause(s)!
Sola Faboya, a social commentator lives in Lagos
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