Understanding Poverty

This post is inspired by the TED talk: The Hidden Reason for Poverty the World Needs to Address Now. Watch it here

As university students we’ve been conditioned to think critically, to observe and analyze issues and conceptualize solutions. We forget that poverty isn’t a black and white issue. Poverty is a grey area that spans so many historical, intersectional factors, and it takes people from all backgrounds and specialties to brainstorm ways forward. It isn’t something that you can sit down one day and solve, and that concept can seem daunting to students who are taught to look for answers. It’s hard to make peace with not always having the answers when it comes to poverty. Global poverty isn’t something we’re faced with in our everyday lives as students, and it’s hard to critically approach something that doesn’t always feel real. We need to know, and we need to understand, and for that to happen we need to ask questions.  

The root causes of poverty are multilayered and complex, but a big part of learning how to interrupt and combat poverty stem from our attitudes.  This video addresses how failures of human compassion have worsened the factors that contribute to poverty, but it also emphasizes how the increased presence of compassion can be the key to effectively dealing with global inequality. 

Our generation is full of potential. Globalization has made international communication as easy as opening your Facebook app. We’ve been given the chance to use these new resources to innovate, to create, and most importantly, to understand. When we one day look back at what we’ve accomplished as a generation, I hope we can say that we had compassion, that we raised our voice, and as a generation, we were moved to make the violence stop.

So ask questions. We can’t always have the answers, but that’s not the point. Once you’ve asked the questions, take the time to listen to those who can help you find the answers. Being an understanding and compassionate individual will get you so much further in the battle against global poverty than thinking that you have the answers ever will.  

-Lauren Desouza