• Chelsea Rustrum

What is Poverty? [Video]

Updated: Feb 15

I woke up this morning thinking about poverty.

Wondering if poverty is something we made up, along with land ownership and rights to resources – upheld by violence. Of course, there’s been poverty throughout time as the result of disease, famine, change in climate, etc. And many of us are definitely living longer than 35 years. So that’s progress.

There’s relative poverty and then there’s poverty in relation to war, famine, capitalism, racism, and our systems. How do we each play a part in sustaining and stagnating current progress?


With 50% of the worlds population having access to less than 3% of revenue – aid, state spending, communism, and globalization haven’t seemed to work.

My concern is this:

We can’t mechanize the future and arm it with autonomous systems thinking that we’ll get where we need to be through trickle down economics. We must design systems that incentivize meaningful sharing and in large part, empathy, interconnectedness and at the core – interdependence.

While global poverty has improved over the last 100 years, most of the poverty we see today is totally avoidable. And I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of being told and reading that it’s a distribution problem, not a technology problem or or an issues with regard to a lack of resources.

You and I and everyone who surrounds us is responsible for this dream we find ourselves accepting and continually reinforcing. The new poverty is actually inequality.

While I don’t believe in shame or blame, but rather collective action and responsibility – I do love this quote:

“In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” Confucius

I don’t have the answers, but I don’t think oversimplified ideas like UBI will work, especially not on a global stage.

There is something fundamental here to wake up to. And my hope is that this is something we can shift through a non-violent consciousness that supersedes, defies, and moves beyond the reality of today.

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