13 March 2021 •  Excerpt #Essay

Poverty is not just a lack of money

QUICK BITE - Leeann Sequeira's Essay National Level Third Place Winner of the Heartfulness Essay Event 2020 (English Category) organised by Sri Ram Chandra Mission in collaboration with the United Nations Information Centre in India and Bhutan and Heartfulness Education Trust. The topic for essay was 'Poverty is

The old man, walking down the street, his clothes all wrinkled and worn out from months or years of labour. Is this poverty? What about the woman carrying her child while selling fruits at a roadside on a hot sunny day; and the children that spend their childhood doing housework and labor. Is this all that poverty is about?
What about the young girl who has no freedom to go out and pursue her dreams? Or the young boy forced to pick Science over Arts so he can have a better chance of supporting his family? What about the wife who can’t have male friends because society will tag her as indecent? Or the husband that can’t cry? Poverty goes beyond wealth. It can have a hundred different forms but the three most important are Emotional, Educational, and Spiritual. A lot of people might even laugh at these, but I write to express why this is serious.
How often have you felt the world around you come crashing down? Do you speak about your problems with your family and friends? Everyone needs someone to talk to but as obvious as it sounds, not everyone has a friend, not everyone has family and not everyone knows how to express their feelings. Emotional poverty is all about negativity taking control of our actions and well-being. Every year, around 8 lakh suicide deaths are registered and one of the leading causes is depression. Emotional poverty can cause depression. Bullying, unsupportive parents, backstabbing, can all hurt a person to the point where they lose touch with their ‘inner happiness’. As human beings, we must be considerate towards people and keep an open mind. Listen and learn someone’s story. Stop and think about how your actions will hurt another’s self-esteem, their confidence, their joy. Don’t be the reason why someone is now disheartened or has given up.
That young 7-year-old boy working at the tea stall is exactly what educational poverty is. Education should be a priority, not a privilege. Education is not reading and writing, that is literacy. Education is knowing how to behave at a party, a meeting, or a funeral. Education is knowing how to dress, how to communicate, and, most importantly, how to understand. A truly educated person will never feel 100% educated, because they know that there is always more to learn about people and their perspectives. Just as ‘6’ can be seen as ‘9’, from a different perspective, different situations have different sides to them. Often people try correcting you because you see a ‘6’ but they see a ‘9’. They haven’t been educated well to know that you and they live different lives and there is no right and wrong, only ‘common choices’ and ‘different choices’. Being educated is important because only then can we truly put ourselves in someone’s shoes and spread positivity, encouragement, and support.
Finally, spiritual poverty. Although Spirituality and Religion go hand in hand, they are not the same. I think of spirituality as believing in an unknown intangible force that can guide you and help you in building a connection with it. It is about doing what’s best according to you in a situation. It is like a support system for your mental and emotional health. Think of it as a lifeline as you go adventuring. When you feel scared or unsure, you find comfort there. I included Spirituality because it gives meaning and purpose to life. It makes you think about all your actions and helps you introspect so that you develop a personality that could be the best version of yourself. At the end of the day, life is all about purpose. We grow towards our purpose. When you find inner peace, you can think clearly with a broader mind, and you will be able to spread that peace to everyone around you. There would be no discrimination, no prejudice, and above all, no hatred.
Only when this basic lack of emotional support, education, and spiritual awareness are tackled, will we be able to move on to other kinds of poverty because at the end of it, we come into this world with nothing and we leave this world with nothing. Instead of avoiding someone you don’t admire, find out their perspective. Help someone be the best version of themselves and, above all, be the best version of you!

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