Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Poverty? Greed?

Plato once claimed that poverty is not a decrease in our possessions, but an increase in our greed. As a middle class (have) individual this has a strong ring of truth to it. It speaks to the endless fascination with material success that is so prevalent in Western society. Yet, this statement also alerts me to a need for distinction with the term poverty. While I agree that our greed impoverishes us - poverty has many roots and causes. And the kind of poverty that is caused by greed is, in my opinion, more of a spiritual poverty than a material poverty.

This spiritual poverty is not necessarily synonymous with the inability to provide sustenance for ones family. Nor  is it always indicative of an inability to "catch a break" socially that will allow your most basic needs to be met. The difference between spiritual and material poverty seems to describe the gulf between the haves and have nots - where the have nots often face destructive material poverty their concerns are grounded in the reality of putting food on the table not on having too little equity to buy a second car for purely convenience sake. Perhaps this is why I so appreciate the epistemological privilege that  Liberation Theology offers to the poor? Indeed the real remedy for spiritual impoverishment must lie in the path of solidarity with the truly poor - that is the materially poor. In fact, dare I say, one can only climb out of spiritual poverty with the help of the materially poor - because the greed that offers only spiritual poverty can never be sated, and can never offer us freedom.

Food for thought.

1 comment:

rsctt said...

some of the most impoverished (in spirit) people on the planet, are those with numerous possessions, and wealth. they find no happiness,joy, or satisfaction in waht they have but are always searching for the elusive "more"...look a someone say like Charlie Sheen..and others..there "poverty" knows no end..