Poverty. A terrible solitude. Ostracism from sanity. Plenty beyond the horizon, you will find at every corner of a mega city and town, to the paddy fields and palm oil plantations. Poverty is a negation of free will, a horrendous robbery of human rights and a dreadful rape of opportunities. Equality does not exist in beggarism and destitution.
Bangkok is similar to other cities, be it Jakarta or Manila or Kuala Lumpur, where an abnormal belief that urban poverty is not as bad as you think – regardless of the concerns of slums, streetkids and homelessness. But then again, many cities in South East Asia are subjected to societal vulnerabilities. Society believes what it wants to believe and because of that, society weaves the illusion of prosperity and sustainable development. Weaving such a web creates pockets of prejudice against the poor. The usual subconscious propaganda of society, that the urban poor are lazy, lacking in common sense or merely economical parasites.
Society believes that the poor will always be poor despite the abundance of aid from the government, corporations and NGOs. Society submits to such a belief because people are generally sluggish to compassion and greedy for a luxurious life of extreme comfort. The flaws of government are obvious, as billions are spent on weaponry and a showy decoration of dogma – which serves their needs rather than the needs of the poor. Corporations embark on multiple strategic approaches in their corporate social investment, and we see the cycle of poverty still being sustained by the spiritual consumption of materialism and capitalism – at the expense of the poor. As for NGOs, many are mushrooming in the sea of urbanization, confused and bent on delivering best practices with very little support and direction in the catastrophe. And where is society in this equation?
Every year, we read, listen, and see members of society mimicking some bizarre declaration of poverty eradication. The working class merely nod their heads, perhaps they have been hearing the same boring old tune, over and over. The working poor, speechless at such obese advertisement of lies and pledges that people have no clue on the mechanics of anti-poverty approach. Society makes declarations, and yet we prevent the poor from participation. The poor should not be exempted from decision-making in governance or economical strategies, nor should they be seen as part of the problem.
We know of many think-tanks committed to eradicating poverty, yet how many of stakeholders (the POOR) are part of this process? The groups usually consist of degree-licking, PhD-kissing elites, political scientists, wannabes and economists. The poor view these entities with distrust, naturally so, how would a group of privileged people know about the lives and struggles of the poor? How can they expect the poor to subscribe to solutions which they know are merely thesis-based solutions.
Equality is dead. It has been dead for quite some time. The poor, still struggle to make life bearable, and some move mountains just to satisfy the expectations of the upper class. Modern slavery exists, repackaged and rebranded, with perfume to mask the decay and with lace to stimulate the illusion. Poverty is the yoke of oppression, the one that we passionately talk about today, and completely forgetting it tomorrow.