Week 1

Week 1 –

 

So last week was an interesting week to say the least. It started with about 30 hours of travel to Mumbai, India. It’s interesting to me that poverty is relative. I once thought that it was clear what was poverty. My perception has changes after traveling over the years and was really cemented after last week. The truth is again, that poverty is relative.

 

When I was younger I remember so many immigrants to the US from Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica, and many other Caribbean and Latin American countries would come to the US and look down on African Americans in south Florida. This was so annoying to me at the time. How could they come to the US looking for a handout and look down on those to whom they were looking for help and a better life? As a minority myself it was also a sore spot as we already felt as if we had to fight the system and “the man”. Now we also had to feel pressure from new comers. I felt as if we (African Americans) were getting pressure from all side. This prompted some very interesting balancing acts in terms of intercultural relationships. To me it was a delicate dance. My upbringing demanded that I treat all people fairly, while my environment sent a very clear, yet very different message.

 

The message coming from all sides was to find your small group of like people and stick with them… Well this proved to be very difficult for many reasons. Just a few examples are food, music, and values. It was inescapable. I loved the diversity in food and I’ve always loved music. So this was simply impossible and so I found myself vacillating from one group to the other ever so slightly changing very small characteristics in order to be better accepted. All the while making sure to represent my own culture in a positive way.

 

So back to poverty thing… Immigrants would judge us and I hated it. My visit to several 3rd world countries has enlightened me to this dynamic a bit. In many of the countries that I have visited, there is no opportunity, there is no running water for all, there is no abundance of food, education, power, etc… In India there isn’t the same support from the central government with things like garbage removal and disposal. So in some not so affluent and even some affluent areas, garbage just piles up. Many Indians couldn’t fathom the life that we have here in the US. There is no welfare system so if you don’t have, you just don’t have. In speaking to one of my colleagues who is from India he carefully explained to me that people go out and work all day, if they find work, for a hand full of rice and a couple of vegetables.  Imagine that…. A day’s work may give you enough to eat for a day, maybe. God forbid you have a family and children. They couldn’t imagine walking into any of our grocery stores and seeing rows and rows of food just sitting there. In Brazil they have the “favelas” where people simply have made homes out of scraps over the years. Many are from 2nd or 3rd generation born and raised in favelas. Again, no running water, no electricity (except in some cases where they steal it from nearby power lines), and no plumbing in many of these countries.

 

If a person in one of the above mentioned situations had the opportunity to visit the US and see the very clear difference in life here they would be breathless and in awe.

 

So back to the point I made earlier about childhood friends in South Florida who were immigrants. I have a much better understanding of their lack of empathy for our complaining. In the US we have so much and feel as if we have so little. Poverty is in fact relative and certainly a matter of perspective. As Americans we really need to take a step back and simply inhale the fresh air, jump in the shower and feel the hot running water, make a PB&J and “Shut the Front Door”. We have so much and we don’t even realize it. This is why many come from other countries and outperform us in general in studies as well as willingly working the “Three Jobs” doing the things that many of us look down upon. Yes, call me what you want, but its real. We are so blessed here in the US and we, all of us, need to stop complaining and get up and “get’er done”… Seriously…

 

Looking forward to some hefty comments and discussions this week on this one… Please take a minute to visit the blog and post your thoughts.

 

www.johnnierjr.com

13 thoughts on “Week 1

  1. Melissa says:

    I absoulty agree. A lesson I have been trying to teach my son. He actually stayed at a friends house last night who does not have much and he came home very humbled and said that he felt guilty for complaining all these years about not having everything he wants when his good friend doesn’t even have heat in the winter and he apologized and thanked me for giving him what he has. That was a moment to remember and then he asked for a $200 guitar later that afternoon. Small steps.

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    • LOL…. Lesson was somewhat short lived huh…

      You know Melissa, this is a tough one to make stick. We work so hard trying to provide our kids with a life that is better than we had when we were kids, but by doing so they cant appreciate the blessings that they have. I too have been trying to find a way to instill this into my kids as well. I am really considering a week or two overseas when she gets to High School helping the poor and traveling abroad to give her more perspective.

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  2. Caston Brown says:

    Yes a trip to a third world country will change your perception on poverty. However poverty in America is no easy road to travel. There are many Americans who don’t have electricity or running water in their homes. I have had the opportunity to see third world poverty and now being involved with public safety. I get to see our country suffer as well. Now I am not defending the people who choose not to work and are constantly looking for a handout. Again we have people of all ages sleeping on the streets. I don’t believe there is a need to compare our poverty. People feel the need sometimes to travel across the world to help the poor. If you ask them to donate locally they get a attitude. We can’t treat all poor americans as if they are criminals/junkies. Some of the people in third world countries that we help are their junkies/criminals. I am glad for the people who used poverty as drive to be successful. Immigrants should never tell some one from America not to complain of poverty. Unless they have a idea what they have been through. Brother this is a tough topic to discuss on a blog. We are gone have to finish this up when I come to visit. Glad you made it back safe ……..take care J.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Anonymous says:

      I hear ya Man…

      India has 4 times the population of the US. India 1.2 billion / US 300 million. India also has 1/3 of the land area as the US. India 1.3 million square miles / US 3.9 million square miles. India has 78 million homeless people while the US is estimated at between 300-500 thousand.

      I stated all of that to say that we really cannot compare poverty in India and many other 3rd world countries with that of the US. Now I certainly see your point and agree that we should help our neighbors and yes we have many people right here in the US that need our help.

      Its so interesting when we take a macro look at things and really see things from a broader perspective. Scary huh???

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    • Anonymous says:

      Agreed…. I can tell you that my daughter has always lived a life of privilege and has no clue what it is like to have a syrup sandwich or to live in a neighborhood where you get burglarized every year. In fact, many of our neighbors are affluent and she feels that she doesn’t have all the things that they have. She has no clue how blessed she is because all things are relative.
      Such is America. We have had so much for so long its hard to explain to folks that they already have when they look at others and compare their situation to those that have more.

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  3. Johnnie! I’m so glad I happened upon your blog. We are indeed “spoiled” here in the US. I cannot even imagine India. I watched Slumdog Millionaire and I cried. I’m sure that doesn’t even touch the surface of the life lived in the caste system. I believe the fat cats here in the US have created the caste system for American people. Think about it. Rich or poor…no one in the middle that can be successful. If you are rich, you can pay for education, medical and food. If you are poor, it’s given to you. In the middle, you struggle to get it.
    K. I’m done and off my soap box. But you are awesome Johnnie!

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    • Tina, Thanks for your comments!!!

      You mentioned the “Caste” system and I’m sure that many done have a clue. I really thought that I understood it, but I spent several hours with a colleague from India who in currently in a successful arranged marriage and he really took time to explain personally what the caste system was and how it impacts him personally. My eyes were opened to say the least. This is a very complex system with varying rules that could easily cost people their life.

      Now on a separate topic it is absolutely true that the middle class here in the US is being depleted. Its so scary because its happening at such a fast pace. The key to the success of America “is” the middle class. So what are your thoughts about really empowering the middle class?

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  4. What’s up Big DAWG! So I’m glad that you bring up the castle system and how quickly the middle class is disappearing. You can basically can draw Pi and look to the center and see how close we really are to end point. Basically time wave zero but that is another Blog. So back to topic, I can tell you one thing for sure once you do visit a 3rd world country your eyes will be wide open if not go back to watching reality TV. I know in Thailand seeing infants on the street collecting money that were all dropped off earlier in the day by a van filled with children to collect money in the streets. Mothers weaving metal to pave roads and sidewalks by hand instead of a manufacture piece of metal mesh mean while a baby strap to their back. A person weekly salary was less then minimum wage at the time it was $8. Imagine that work all week for $8 WTF!!! Here in the USA we’ve been very fortunate for a long time! Unfortunately I believe this time is coming to an END! Stop for a minute and look around and see how so much has changed in the USA in the last 20-30 years it’s crazy! All our manufacturing jobs gone over sea’s, and look at our GDP it reflects it to a T. Look at the false unemployment numbers (inmates count as employed people too)! Did I mention that we have 2.3 million criminals behind bars, more than any other nation and the US only makes up 5% world population! We have become a police state! Errr….move along nothing to see here….. How many people have taken less paying jobs in the last 10 years just to get by? Look at how many people work or are sustained by our US Government. Total number of American’s on welfare 15,000,000 total government spending on welfare annually (not including food stamps or unemployment) $131.9 billion. Number of Americans using the food stamp program 46,670,373 Total annual cost of food stamp program $71,800,000,000. Take away these programs and we would have food riots in the streets. Not mention the retired people on social security if that were to stop tomorrow! Look at the price of food lately since when was peanut butter $8? Poor guy Thailand has to work all week for a jar of Peter Pan? Why? It’s called inflation!!!! WE Can not continue printing fake money it only devalues’s the US dollar! TY Federal reserve… TY big Government.. TY Big corporate lobbyist! Ty for destroying America so you could get richer, not rich but filthy rich! But time is really coming to a scary point, not going to mention Mayan Calendar..lol or Bible prophecy here… but WAR.. and the False War’s we are fighting. Banker WAR for the sustaining of the petro $$$$.. Have you read up on the BRIC nations? Just last week sep 6th China has finalized the trading in their own currency and has cleared the way for other oil nations to trade in, but you didn’t hear about that last week on MSM. You only heard BEN B Q3 bs! Then we have the WAR drums beating for IRAN and the few other countries the banks have yet to topple all for oil being traded in Gold vs US $ that’s all its about. No terrorists, the only terrorist are the bankers. So with that be ready for WAR either next week or following the elections. But I believe an attack on Iran will come on sep 26th the stage is set, 30 nations performing Navy drills! Russia and China will support Iran. And this is all been planned prior to 9/11 don’t believe me watch some videos…It’s very upsetting to watch TV anymore because it is all Lie’s and BS. If dig hard you will find the truth. This Syria BS is all crap! This Muslim up rising is BS too all staged planned and we are told lie’s so they can take away our 1st amendment had nothing to do with a anti Muslim movie trailer! Watch this Canadian news video and you will see what it’s all about.

    Path to WAR Gen Wesley Clark in 2008 ( the countries we are going to go to war with laid out)

    So I hope I’m wrong and none of it happens!

    So it’s been real living the dream so now back to work and till next time BD

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    • Wsup Red Truck Driver…

      It’s good to see that you are engaged and doing what you can to keep your eyes open. As we all know closed eyes and plugged ears promote the ignorance that sparks waste, provides for uninformed action, engages in blind mischief. begs for things unearned, etc…

      It’s also true that our focus has been on institutionalized profits on the backs of our unfortunate. Now, there is no way that I could possibly attempt to tackle the barrage of topics that you outlined above with any sense of value or effectiveness, so I wont even try. However, I would offer to you this… Are we our brothers keeper? Does our verbiage and deeds truly promote our values? is there an evidenced match between what we believe, what we say, and what we do?

      Poverty is such a large issue that seems to taunt us even when we choose to turn the other way. Likewise immigration and its associated challenges refuse to be ignored. Their residue and in many cases their unchecked dunnage shows up in the form of teary eyes of mothers with deported children, fathers on bended knees praying that they wont be found out. It shows up in our tax dollars being spent on hospital bills and the education of those that are undocumented.

      The Reality – I have no idea how to fix these issues, but I am always ready to take a balanced approach to them and to make attempts to declare war on the challenges on both sides in an effort to ensure that a fair and broad perspective is the foundation upon which decisions are made. Obviously in my moral and human state my influence and impact in still let individual.

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