Why Is Practicing Poverty Important Now?
Why Is Practicing Poverty Important Now?
Practicing poverty during good times such as we have had for the last 75 years in America, has never been more critical.
For most people still living at this time, we’ve experienced some financial setbacks but these came from a very lofty place.
For billions of people around the world, the concept of practicing poverty is absurd when you are already living in poverty.
Over the last 70 years, many people have risen above abject poverty, but many more are about to experience it for the first time.
About two thousand years ago, Seneca warned the people of Rome to not get too complacent what’s luxury and to occasionally take time out to practice poverty.
Now Seneca never called at practicing poverty, but that is essentially what he was talking about in Letter 18.
We have become so accustomed to luxury, that the mere idea of practicing poverty does not come up on the radar.
We are denying reality even though we have faced almost two years of lockdowns, quarantines, masks, social distancing, vaccinations, and travel restrictions. And more.
In the US, we have had almost 75 years of constant prosperity.
For those of us who are baby boomers, and even many of the generations that followed us, we have worked hard to achieve our goals and we set out in our twenties and thirties.
We have had secure jobs and been able to support a family from an early age, which is now in jeopardy for most Young Americans in their 20s.
Over the decades, we have seen our salaries rise, and their houses get bigger, and our cars get more luxurious.
When I had summer jobs in the early 1970s in the shipyard in Newport News, you can actually make pretty good money.
I worked alongside young men who came down from the mountains of West Virginia to escape the coal mines, and they were able to support a family on the wage that I was receiving.
Now that was not a luxury lifestyle, but it’d sure beat going down into a coal mine.
We buy things to celebrate our achievements and develop an attitude. I’m making this kind of money so I deserve a $300 handbag or a $600 pair of shoes.
Once this stuff becomes a part of us, we place such value on those things that we want to hang on to them, and not lose them no matter whatever happens.
I’m reminded of the show that I binge watched on streaming servicews called Hoarders.
The show chronicles the lives of people who imprison themselves with stuff, even garbage, until their homes are taken over by rats and roaches. Family has to step in to save the houses, and they bring in professional organizers, cleanup crews, and mental health professionals. Some don’t make it.
Some shows break your heart. Cleaners routinely find dead rats and cats, and the owners will not give up any living animals. Dead animals end up in the freezer, if it still works. Many will choose to live in squalor and not throw out the junk, even if it means losing their homes and alienating their family members.
Now when things are starting to change, we may not have the energy to handle the financial difficulties that lie ahead unless we learn to practice poverty now so that we are ready for anything that comes.
After the lockdowns with the Coronavirus, many of us began to understand what poverty was all about.
Millions lost jobs, and had to create online businesses to stay afloat.
Those who still had jobs worried about whether or not their jobs were really secure.
Anxiety could be overwhelming.
The number of people that committed suicide rose to all-time highs.
What is certain, however, is that the world was not prepared to be ordered to stay home, not go to school, not to gather at church, stay 6 feet away from others, wear masks even outdoors, and basically to give up life as we know it.
In the poorest countries, people were beaten if they ventured outside their hovels in search of food.
We have gone beyond many of the harshest lifestyle 2020, but we are not finished with other restrictions being placed on our lives.
These restrictions maybe more difficult for us to maintain than the ones we’ve already been through.
I don’t know what these obstacles will be, practicing poverty is a good way to learn how to live on less even if you only do it one to three days a month.
For more, visit Practicing Poverty.