This blog is participating in the 2008 Blog Action Day, this year directed against poverty. The declared goal is to create a discussion on the web on the selected topic, a rather ambitious (perhaps presumptuous) goal. What sort of discussion or debate? That would depend on the blog and its readers - as long as it is connected to the topic.
So, what is poverty anyway? I'm not an economist or a sociologist but it seems to me that the definition for whoever is poor and whoever isn't poor changes from person to person and depends on many factors (status of the bank account [if there is one], nutritional health, socio-economic status [place of residence, mode of transportation, clothes, accessories], employment, litteracy, amount and quality of leisure time, social and cultural contexts and many more).
How do we fight something like that, that its very definiotn changes and varies from place to place and time to time? Perhaps the answer is that there is no one answer, but instead a multitude of local answers, more fitting to the plights of individuals and families (and then there's the problem of poor nations; is that a different sort of poverty or the same, only on mass scale?).
Why do we wish to fight poverty? Because it is a state of people suffering due to the extreme lack of (mostly?) material wealth relative to the cultural and social contexts. Because children are malnutrituned, because they get laughed at behind their backs or to their faces because their parents couldn't afford that particular "cool" shoes or the school field trip. Because the fridge is empty. Because there is no fridge. Because of TB, HIV and a host of other preventable or treatable plauges affecting people where a simple sex education program or a basic health system do not exist. Because corruption kills. Because of cultrual heritage items, antiques and works of arts being smuggled, destroyed or sold out. Because of religious fanatics who exploit distress to fuel hatred instead of cultivating hope. Because of children scavenging for dangerous waste metal scraps in Africa, homeless elderly in the cold streets of Washington, D.C. and dying cramped Chinese immigrants in a shipping container. Because no one seems to care.
Poverty has many faces and many forms, all of them human.
Finally, a couple of songs. Originally, this post was to be about spiritual poverty, which is a sort of asceticism, but I guess I got carried away a bit. Regardless, the first of the songs, Kristin Hersh's (MySpace, homepage) rendition of "Poor Wayfaring Stranger", sort of touches the subject. The other song deals with what some may consider globalization or maybe just capitalism and its effects on communities.