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Archive for the ‘Poverty’ Category

I have seen many villagers who used to have many buffalos, cows, and chickens living on five acres of land. They were once satisfied with life and were named successful. And then there were motorcycles, pickup trucks, mobile phones, and processed food in the market. Then they were told what they really needed in life in order to be happy. Things they needed to have. Processed food was better than their chickens and vegetable in their backyards. Their buffalos were not as good as the pickup trucks and their village ways of communication had to be replaced by cellular phones. And they became less satisfied. And they started to think of themselves as the outsiders. And they felt poor and oppressed. They were once again told that to move into the inner circle, to feel better about who they are, they needed to exchange buffalos for trucks, cows for motorcycles, and chickens plus cabbages for processed food. And they started to feel better about themselves owning trucks, riding motorcycles, speaking through cellular phones, and eating hamburgers. They thought life must be better even though they have sold their animals and lost their farms. From self-employed they have become employees. From owning farms, they are employed to work on their very own farms.

When globalization is driven by market capitalism, the world becomes a poorer place to live in because big corporations will always control the market making it impossible for independent farmers to compete.  Soon we will be faced with the world controlled by few major corporations dictating policies for their self-preservation.

We were told that we live in a global village. And interdependency is a necessity. We have to learn to live with one another, depending on one another, selling and buying products from one another. I think interdependency is a great idea. However there is also that false dependency where mutuality is not the basis for ethical conducts. The more we depend, the less free we become. The less we depend on others for our sustenance, the more free we become. The more we need, the less we have. It seems to me the simpler we live, the more space we have.

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This is awesome as it challenges our understanding of what education is all about. It seems that ultimately life is about living and things pertaining to living. And living deals with the every day thing of sustenance. However we have transformed this world through global economy into a world of dependency that takes advantages of our earth and all the resources in order to feed a reality that we build for ourselves. Local economy through local resources seems an option that we have not quite explored enough. This TED talk on an innovative form of education is something to ponder.

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Globalization has not resulted in global prosperity that it has promised. According to the 2006 World Development Report, the gap in income per person between the thirty riches countries and the thirty poorest countries grew from 17 to 1 in 1980 to 27 to 1 in 2002.  People at the top 20% benefit from liberal free-trade policy and the higher they are up the ladder, the higher the profit. However, the lower they are the lower they will lose out in proportion. According to United Nations Development Program, in 1960 the gap between the richest 20 and the poorest 20% was 30 to 1. By 1991 it has grown to 61 to 1 and by 1994, 74 to 1. In 2004 the gap between the top 10% and the lowest 10% was 103.

What is the effect of globalization on labor? Here are some examples:

Globalization and Agriculture

Globalization and Factory Workers

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I do not recall the last time I felt hungry and if I did it was not because I did not have access to food. It was because my work kept me busy or I was busy doing other things. I could not imagine what it is like to feel the hunger and not knowing when the next meal may arrive or to live with hunger over extended period of time. I used to make it a requirement for my class for students to fast a meal and give that amout of money to a needy person. And while the students were all so willing to give, they would complain of how hard it was to go without a meal, to be hungry. My complaint has only been overeating. And we are spending our time trying to loose weight. Yet there is another reality out there. Check out this link. Hunger

 

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Last night I met with two of the students that received scholarship from our program. These two sisters came from a Hmong village way up on the hill with no public transportation and no electricity.  Actually this scholarship program sponsored three of the sisters.  The first graduated three years ago and is now working with an insurance company doing well. The second sister will graduate with a bachelor degree in tourism and the youngest will graduate with this February as well. These sisters are really hard working and are performing well academically. While in Chiang Rai they used to work at times till 5 in the morning, came home, and got ready to go to school again in the morning. I asked how many young people in the village get to go to college. Their response was, about 5%.  Not only are they hard working and determined to help support their families, they are concern for their village as well. I had a long conversation about the struggle of the villagers and learned that most villagers do not have sufficient connection. They grow crops yearly and make approximately 500 to 1,000 dollars a year if they were able to sell their crops. They do not have knowledge in terms of outlet for their products. When the price is bad, they suffer. Some years, their entire year labor reaps nothing due to external circumstances and the cycle of debt continues. Their are young people with dreams and vision and courage. They are the minority but through determination, they make a difference for themselves and for their families and hopefully for their village as well.

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Gospel According to Skid Row: Benefit Concert

Chen Fong Auditorium, Fourth Floor, Centennial Complex, Loma Linda University

April 16, 2011  from 3:00 – 5:00 pm

Poster

This benefit concert will be performed by members of Skid Row, Los Angeles. We invite you to come and be a witness to lives touched by the gospel and expressed through gospel music. Enjoy narrations of existential struggles, of hope in the midst of lost and grace at the center of life’s predicament. The funds raised during this concert will be used to support the ministry of LA Central City Community Church in providing care and services to the homeless residing in Skid Row.

Some Facts

“According to this recent study, the number of homeless on any given night in Los Angeles County has reached 90,000, up 8.4 percent from 83,000 in 2003. Ito noted that “the County of Los Angeles is now the homeless capital of the United States,” surpassing by far New York City’s 40,000, Chicago’s 9,600 and San Francisco’s 9,600 homeless populations. “To put it in perspective,” noted Ito, “the homeless population of Los Angeles County is larger than the entire population of the city of Santa Monica [a beach community that abuts Los Angeles]. It is truly an appalling situation.”

The bulk of the LA county homeless—82,291 out of the 90,000—are found in the City of Los Angeles—South Central (which includes Watts, Downtown, Pico Union, Boyle Heights, Hollywood—and in the City of Compton and in some of the smaller cities within the county. The industrial city of Long Beach, to the south (California’s sixth largest), Pasadena and Glendale to the north conduct their own count and provide their own services. They have 6,000, 1,200, and 400 homeless, respectively.

Out of the city’s 82,291 homeless, 34,518 (42 percent) are considered chronically homeless; that is, they have been “on the streets for more a year or more, or have had four episodes of homelessness in the last three years” and “have one or more disabilities, including mental illness, substance abuse and health conditions.” Approximately 55 percent of this population suffers from three or more disabilities.

–Ramón Valle, 17 October 2005, wsws.org

According to official U.S. government statistics issued in November of 2007, more than 1 in 10 people in the United States go hungry. More than 35 million people went hungry in 2006 according to the same report; almost 13 million of them were children and many of the rest were impoverished senior citizens.

www.freedomtracks.com/statistics

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It is depressing watching news every day about what ‘s happening in Thailand. What’s worse is when you learn that news are not accurately portrayed especially among foreign news agencies.  We hear reports of military using life ammunitions.  What we do not hear is that there are all types of weapons within the protesters camps, that there are among protesters hardliners who will go to any extend to pursue their agenda.  But that’s not really what I’m planning to write here.  So here’s what I think.

If we were to look at Thailand as a collective body with a collective psyche, we will be able to recognize that this collective self has, through dominant discourse, defines its self identity and its worth through philosophical capitalism.  By philosophical capitalism I mean a place where people are measured by their productivity which, often the case, is determined through material outcomes.  There’s really nothing wrong with this definition except when it becomes the ultimate channel for self-definition that in an indirect manner imposes itself on the collective body.  I do not think that it is consciously intentional but it gets transmitted in a more subtle ways and through these subtle means those who are not within these categories feel marginalized.  Jung tells us that that which is suppressed will never remain suppressed.  It will have to emerge somewhere.  So the primal force that has been suppressed for decades bombarded through mass media has to have an outlet.  Again, when they are not well acknowledged or process, these forces can be brutal and very primal.  And it is the natural process of the collective unconscious.  It shows itself in unpleasant means.  In Jungian psychology, it is not the question of ridding the self of these forces.  It is about recognizing and embracing.  The dark side is not an element to be surgically removed.  The dark side is to be recognized.  The question is how does recognition work?  Perhaps the question can be changed to what is perpetuating these dark side?  I like to think that in different ways, what perpetuates this primal political forces is how our society has come to define for itself what success is and how people are valued as people, how worth is quantified.  And so we have the term the ‘elite’ that belongs to this category.  I think the problem is not that there’s the economically elitist group within our society as much as the lack of other variable for self-definition. It is through this definition of the economic elite that we have the poor and the underpriviledge and the uneducated and the unsophisticated.   This may remain true if and only if it is the only definition.  What is sad to me is that in many ways Buddhism has offered a very different perspective on self-definition that counters this common understanding.  In Buddhism the worth of a person is not determined by wealth nor sophistication.  In Buddhism, a person’s worth is his or her act of compassion and the ability to make merits.  This religion has given Thais other alternatives for self-definition.  If we were to take this definition and apply to Jungian context, it implies natural distribution of human value through expanding definition of self and what it is worth.  In this definition there’s the dark side is no longer dark, the marginalized find themselves within the margin, the force is tamed and absorbed into the collective conscious of the unconscious self.  Taking this analysis further, what needs to change may not be political system that we see through those striving on the streets in Bangkok.  It is the dominant discourse that may have to be redefined.  Wealth or the lack thereof does not determine a person’s worth.  This worth needs to be rooted in something that transcends itself.  Just a thought.

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