Monday, March 16, 2009

Living in Poverty

It's one thing to see poverty from a comfortable distance and another to actually live in it (even if for a short time). In the Philippines, I stayed in what would be considered impoverished conditions in America. But I never felt like I was "living in poverty". (Maybe, they'd say it's because I only visited poverty. It's one thing to drop by for a few days, maybe another to see no end to these conditions.)

St. John Chrysostom said that luxury debases man. He was profoundly correct. Living in luxury tends to hide our humanity behind a superficial veil of material possession. I felt more.. human in the Philippines. I woke up every day to sunlight and the busy sounds of humans going about their business: opening their shops, sweeping the sidewalk, listening to music and kids playing in the streets (let's not forget the Jeepneys and motorcycles.. Manila is one of the largest and busiest metro areas in the world). I'd go downstairs and take a quick, cold shower and go right outside. 10 minutes after waking I'd be a stone's throw from 200 neighbors and arms length from a half dozen. Other people. In America, I stay isolated in my suburban house for longer just getting ready in the morning. Then I drive 30 minutes to sit at a desk and work on a computer.

1 comment:

lvschant said...

I was an exchange student to the Philippines in 1975-6. Your comments about places I can remember and the way of life are bringing memories back for me. Thank you!

PS. although I lived primarily in Bacolod City, I had the opportunity to visit several other islands, spending about 6 weeks or so on Luzon (including Baguio), and with other trips to Cebu, Mindanao and Iloilo...