The difference between real and imagined is self belief or fear. This shows up in our work and our anxieties as we seek to match words with deeds explain a short coming and be authentic or mask hypocrisy and bewilderment. For sometimes, way too often, we talk a good talk, arm ourselves with facts, figures and case studies, approach an intractable problem from a different angle, and pour thousands of dollars and energy at it, only to come up empty.
We begin journeys and endeavors unsure of what and whom we will meet along the way, and becoming aware that our experience and circumstances can be improved. How is the big question. Even as we make do with our lot, and dream of a future beyond a limiting horizon, the desire to challenge and understand our circumstances and ourselves, become a suffocating inkling that change is not only imperative, it is a birthright. At its core, poverty is a dysfunctional acceptance of our lot and what we are prepared to believe about ourselves. Real, imagined or suggested, accepting this dysfunction is inimical to our aspirations.
There is an interesting cause/symptom dynamics at play, which, from a certain perspective, seems definitive but often, what we think is objective is entirely subjective and part of a unresolved dilemma or catch twenty two. The dysfunction, and it is, is that what we assume to be the shortest distance between two points, what we see, feel, imagine or think, is not necessarily ‘real or true’ but are “causative”. There are images brought to us by our eyes and our minds. The sources of those images impose on us an overwhelming feeling of enthusiasm, despair or ambivalence, and those signals are not benign. Indeed, they are more prescriptive than descriptive.
Bear in mind, (be aware) that some things, some limits that we think, and hence hold to be true, are states of consciousness, ghosts of a presence more pregnant than the mind can fathom, even long after an uninvited mystery or crisis.
Poverty, which manifests itself as a resource issue, in reality, is a byproduct of a collaborative overpowering of the mind. Consider this: a mind overwhelmed by its imagines and its images, feel despair, which itself is an instruction not totally at the command of our cognitive. The result is a slide in our affairs, panic and crossroads that literally become scenes of crashes. Our minds can be programmed to faithfully take us to the scenes of our ‘accidents’, or, if we gain enough insight into the strange dichotomy of our mind and soul: that living breathing dynamic place of interaction between the mind and body, we can find ways to reprogram not just our mind but answer the persistent awkwardness of our poverty. Then, that which had been predestined for a wreck is freed and can truly influence the future positively.
Whatever the science proves, I am amenable to this idea: the mind is a steering mechanism. Point it to a star, fuel it with enthusiasm, color it with imagination and watch it go beyond the boundaries of what had hither to been the curvature of a futile horizon. We do not come to this realization lily white or without baggage. However, the baggage we carry can be a source of strength and pride or labels of victimhood. Not both. The mind doesn’t know how to be a victim and a victor at the same time. We don’t rightly choose our history, but we can take pride in the narrative either as victims (which the mind will steer towards), or as overcomers proud of the strength we found in an encounter we would not have chosen.
Poverty, all too easy becomes a way of life. We struggle and work to get things and trophies to show we have put some distance between ourselves and the threadbare days of yesterday, but alas, nothing changes as we are still a paycheck away from financial ruin. Poverty is not about money. Price and cost are not just market clearing intersections, they are anxiety indicators. They reveal our discomfort with our access or lack of access to resources. It is that discomfort that bothers the mind and sets it to work reinforcing a distorted view of ourselves.
If we know why the chicken crossed the road, we can do better than road kill. Poverty, therefore, is symptomatic of the ways we think of ourselves and the premise of our assumptions masquerading as facts. Sensing vulnerabilities, there is a psychological response to ‘remedy’ a problem. But the train, already loaded, for all the intervention and good intentions, is poised to leave the station on the existing tracks. It`s a reel. Rescues are difficult. Martin Luther King is a giant among men, for he was able to get a marginalized people to reorient their minds to hope and dreams, while appealing to the conscience of a privileged nation to do what is right and decent. Yet, the narrative is a partial victory, until the individual who had worn the shackles and the garments of inferiority complex come to grips with this uncomfortable truth: the mind is the greatest prison and the inmate has the key.
We scurry about clipping coupons, looking bargain basement prices and being grateful for mediocrity until the poverty of our circumstance consumes us or gives us an invitation to the hallowed halls of power, so long as we bring our beggars` bowls. We are trapped in a painful place until we get insight into how we are coconspirators of our poverty. We internalize a dysfunction that others are oftentimes insistent that we believe about ourselves. Whether it is true or not is a red herring, but if we can’t get our minds to renew us, and lead us with confidence poverty is our lot. The legacy of poverty that dogs us at its core is what we are willing to believe about ourselves and whether we are willing to explore the strange dichotomy that says believing is seeing, even as we are strangers to ourselves.
Poverty is the bogey man from whom we flee. We see its capricious tentacles claiming well placed individuals and even nation states. Nonetheless, the real issue is not if we can afford our misery, we sure can. It’s how to afford the contents of our heart so that our long nightmares can begin to recede. It begins with the authenticity of our imaginations.
Peter Peterkin, Readers Bureau, Contributor
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