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Re: [BKARTS] Blue Bayou

I wrote the following essay in my freshman year at Mount Royal College.
It's along a similar vein. Send the supplies, and the food, and the
water, and the love. 

Robert L. Angus

Octavia & Co. Press



Answer to Jo Goodwin Parker's "What is Poverty"

I am experienced in recognizing the psychology of the poor. I know the
vacant expressions of those who have lost hope and have traded their
aspirations for humiliation. I have watched close friends pawn their
bodies to feed the crutch of their addictions. I know that there is
escape from destitution, for I have supported my ambition with
creativity, resourcefulness, and most important of all, persistence. 

Jo Goodwin Parker, in her essay entitled "What is Poverty?" writes,
"Look at us with an angry heart, anger that will help you help me." I
can relate to her frustration, but it is her prison of inertia which
invokes my anger. Her inability to act in spite of her humiliation
drives my anger. She adds, "Others like me are all around you", and this
further fuels my indignation. 

I have experienced the same impoverishment that Ms. Parker describes:
the cutting smell of urine and sour milk, cold baths with acrid soap,
'friendly' neighbors content to neglect or abuse my sister and I while
our mother was away. I know all too well that poverty is, "cooking
without food and cleaning without soap", but I was able to use the
discarded stub of a pencil to write my first poem. I was able to dig in
the trashcans for bottles and unwanted treasures to sell. I looked for
opportunity, even when it took the form of charitable alms of food and
clothing. The poor may not have money, but they do have a fortune in
time: time to master skills, time to write, paint, or sculpt - even when
the pencil is a dull nub, the paint is made from egg whites and tea, and
the sculpture is cast from mud. 

Resourcefulness is not an option for Ms. Parker, who justifies her lack
of ambition with the "acid that drips on pride until pride is worn away"
and the "chisel that chips on honor until honor is worn away." She can
"dream of a time when there is money", but has overlooked the time to
make money from her dreams. 

When we are born, we have no cloths, no possessions, and are ignorant of
the judgment and criticism of others. When we die, we return to this
natural human condition, taking little comfort in valueless material
objects, and finding no humiliation in judgment and criticism. Poverty
is this natural state, bereft of social value and material comforts. We
are supplied with creativity, resourcefulness, and persistence of
action. Every animal is afforded these, and those that do not must rely
on the charity of others to provide them. Ms. Parker has no faith in
persistence, instead choosing to believe in despotism, defeat and
despair. She asks if we could persist year after year. In reply, the
late President of the United States, Calvin Coolidge is quoted as
"Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will
not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius
will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the
world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone
are omnipotent."

The poor may be without education, employment, or the luxuries which are
commonplace for many of us, but they do have the most important
qualities inherent in every human being. These are the intangible assets
that each one of us has, regardless of our station or qualifications.
The ability to create, to exploit opportunities, to take action and to
persist until a goal is reached are the wealth of mankind. There is
nothing more valuable than these, except the omnipotent power of
sentience to put them to use. Ms. Parker asks, "What is poverty?" My
answer is that Poverty is the ability to rise above the natural human
condition through creative, resourceful, and persistent action.

Edelpappband / "Millimeter" Binding Bind-O-Rama, Entry Deadline - October 1, 2005
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