(Dedicated to the gunman in article The Shallowness of Youth)
Wealth is not a virtue. It does not build character nor does it cure what ails society. One need only see all the diamonds in a jewelry store or read about the billions saved in the banks then watch the 6 o’clock news to realize all the wealth in the world could not take away one pain. Rich and powerful men die just like the poor. My grandmother used to say “We are all born naked and each one of us dies alone.” Jesus in the Bible says “even when a person has an abundance his life does not result from the things he possesses” (Luke12:15)
Poverty on the other hand teaches patience and endurance. A Filipino saying “pag maigsi ang kumot mamaluktot” means when the blanket is short one must curl up. Poverty develops serenity in a person living in turmoil such as 20 years of martial rule. It instills tolerance towards strangers and travelers since kindness comes from unexpected sources, despite 300 hundreds years under Spanish colonizers, more centuries under Americans and 4 years of Japanese occupation during WWII. Poverty builds up force to withstand offensives, the courage to fight or forgive and the wisdom to know the difference. It trains one on survival techniques not learned in the best of schools and the flexibility to adapt to an ever changing world.
Poverty fosters a sense of humor that keeps children laughing without toys and flood victims smiling as soon as they see a media camera while on top of their roof waiting for rescue. Poverty gives strength to the tired underpaid worker sleeping soundly on ‘banig’ (mat) laid out on hard floor.
The Filipinos should thank God for giving just the right amount of poverty that does not cripple the spirit but rather drive to surmount conditions other nations can’t even imagine, as Americans would say “you just had to be there”.
Imagine a poor husband telling his wife he will take care of their son, she should go and visit her rich parents, eat all the goodies she wants and watch television with her brothers. Then the wife comes home too soon saying she would rather be in their shanty (A shanty is a poorly made house in which one can dwell, usually made out of scavenged materials.)
Should Filipinos be ashamed of poverty? I know I am not!
Anderson Cooper of CNN during his visit to the typhoon stricken Tacloban City, Philippines said "Thank you for showing us all how to live."