15 November 2010

Poverty in America

Driving through my neighbourhood in Juba, an American once asked if I felt guilty living in the midst of such poverty. I didn't. At least no more than I had done living in England, being equally aware of the existence of such poverty. Physical proximity shouldn't really have much to do with it.

I do though feel guilty about the guy who sleeps in the bus shelter in my New Haven neighbourhood. What is that?


Matt said...

I've often wondered why I feel the same here in the UK. My only thought was that it had to do with outcome empathy: even if you had an awful childhood and/or screwed up every decision you could, you could never end up like the poor in Juba, but you *could* end up like the guy who sleeps in the bus shelter. He represents a (tiny, tiny) possibility for you, and so you're more likely to empathize.

Lee said...

Good point I hadn't thought of that.

I also feel like maybe its because the problem seems so easily solvable here. The community here could clearly afford to take care of that handful of individuals if it chose to, something which you couldn't necessarily say in places where poverty is so much more widespread.

Maybe I should go all Nick-Hornby-How-to-be-good http://www.amazon.com/How-Be-Good-Nick-Hornby/dp/1573229326

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