Poverty in the World - What can we do as artists?  

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

So, you ask, "What can I do?" Poverty is a simple word that takes on many connotations - this is the entry in Wikipedia for the description of "poverty";

Poverty (also called penury) is deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking water, and may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens. According to Mollie Orshansky who developed the poverty measurements used by the U.S. government, "to be poor is to be deprived of those goods and services and pleasures which others around us take for granted."[1] Ongoing debates over causes, effects and best ways to measure poverty, directly influence the design and implementation of poverty-reduction programs and are therefore relevant to the fields of public administration and international development.

Although poverty is generally considered to be undesirable due to the pain and suffering it may cause, in certain spiritual contexts "voluntary poverty," involving the renunciation of material goods, is seen by some as virtuous.

Poverty may affect individuals or groups, and is not confined to the developing nations. Poverty in developed countries is manifest in a set of social problems including homelessness and the persistence of "ghetto" housing clusters.[2]

For myself, poverty means a lot of things but I'm a little confused by this description. There are a lot of different levels of poverty, and this context says, "to be poor is to be deprived of those goods and services and pleasures which others around us take for granted." there are so many pleasures and goods and services that a lot of Americans won't ever get to take part in! So does that mean that we're all impoverished? In some ways, compared to others, yes.
It's what we do with our poverty that makes it a bad thing, or a good thing.

My sons are always broke. The oldest is in college and tells me that he cannot afford to buy water, special foods, or clothes, and that he is the only one in school that wears this severe of worn clothing. So to his peers, those around him, he is poor. But I look at his situation and tell him, "You've got a secure roof over your head, your education is paid for, and your basic staples are taken care of - you have it better than most!" But in his world this is not how he sees it.
My middle son, just turned 18, is poor in every sense of the word to his peers, but still works hard to improve, not only himself and his situation, but that of those around him. He works hard to promote learning and growing. To "put away his childish things" and teach others that it's time to get on with the business of Life. He has donated his time, his hair, what little money he's had, even his computer(which works, while he sleeps, for others) and is still trying to find more ways to help!
I'm very proud of all of my boys, but they have very different outlooks on poverty. My youngest, who is 9, thinks he's poor because he doesn't have the latest and greatest games and equipment, but to the less fortunate kids in our neighborhood, he's sickeningly rich! It's all how you look at it...
In the Global aspect of poverty, there are poor countries, poor people, and poor living standards. The ones I deem as truly impoverished are the ones that have their children dying in staggering numbers from starvation and illness, have no clean water to drink, cook with, or bathe in. Fight daily to stay alive in the hopes that help will come the next day. We should be sharing our wealth with these ones - we're all of the same place and the best society is the one that lifts the other, and gives without hesitation that which was so generously bestowed upon them.
There are many countries that have this epidemic. There are also countries that appear to be in bad shape, but their people think of it differently. To us, they seem destitute, but for them it's the only way of life they've ever known and they live happily, content in the lack of material things. They don't need our help, they need us to quit judging them!
As artists, we believe that not making decent money for our work makes us "starving artists". It's almost laughable to hear this phrase.
I witnessed an entire community that had no electric, proper tools, running water or bathing facilities, create some of the most astounding carvings and furnishings that I'd ever laid eyes on and they felt it was normal to work in these conditions and put out this amazing art for mere pennies. They would work on an item for weeks and sell it for $50 US and be the kings of their
communities - I thought them poor, but they knew their life was better than mine because they appreciate what they receive from their labors more than I ever could! And by being in such a state, they enjoy more contentment, joy, satisfaction, and pride, then I'll ever be able to...
I think as artists we should give more - we take more - and receive more than our peers - maybe not monetarily, but in currency that has far more value! We work from the soul, to inspire the soul. We feel more and see more than our richer neighbors and create art from our encounters. We receive praise and gratitude from the heart, far more valuable than the paycheck an accountant receives. And, we are free to express ourselves and live a life more full for living how we want to live...
We should be doing more to lift our neighbors, to bring them to the place that they don't have to fear for what the day may bring! By not helping we are hurting ourselves and the world at large. We could live our lives as we have for decades and never feel anything about the peoples of these poorer countries, but who knows what we lose by this behaviour?
With starvation and worry, there is no creativity. We could, by doing nothing, be stifling the next Rembrandt or Monet! Merely by doing nothing!! Everyone should have the opportunity to live a life without fear and hunger and we hold in our tools the means in which to help!
What can we do? Think about the question - there's so many answers!
To put my words into action I will personally give all of the profits from December 2008, online and off, to the aid of those less fortunate. Maybe in doing so I will learn to live with less and therefore be able to continue on through the remainder of the next year as well!? In the eyes of those around me I may be poor, but my talents are rich in what they can give back! :)
What will you do?

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4 comments: to “ Poverty in the World - What can we do as artists?

  • Tammy's Treasure Chest
    October 16, 2008 at 6:43 PM  

    What a wonderful, insightful post!
    I definitely is something to think about.
    You are an inspiration for all those around you. No wonder Tyler does the things he does to help others!

  • Deer Mountain Wood Art
    October 16, 2008 at 9:14 PM  

    awe! That is the nicest thing to say!!! :) Thank you Tammy! I think my children inspire me to do good though more than the other way around :)lol I hope though that maybe I have influenced them a little!
    Thank you for that, made my rather harrowing day a LOT better!

  • Shelly Rodriguez
    October 18, 2008 at 10:59 AM  

    This post is really thoughtful. Thank you for sharing your feelings with us--you raise a lot of really valid points.

  • Deer Mountain Wood Art
    October 18, 2008 at 11:38 AM  

    Thank you Shelly =D I'm glad you enjoyed reading it - it's something I feel very strongly about!
    I watched a documentary a while back that was discussing the way other countries help their citizens and each other and really feel that we(Americans) could learn a lot from others in this respect.
    I felt pretty ashamed that I never really worried about how my fellow humans were getting along, I was too focused on myself.
    I really enjoyed reading your blog this morning, btw!

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