Even those of us with modest means are living a life that countless people around the world only dream about. When you think about it, you may just realize that you already live like a lottery winner compared to so many people who struggle to have the basics like food, clean water, sanitation, education, and at least basic healthcare.
According to The World Bank, nearly half the world’s population (3.3 billion people) lives on less than $5.50 per person per day.1
We lose an important understanding of what poverty means at the human level if we only describe in terms of mere dollars. To better define the everyday impact of what being poor means for half of the people who share our planet, the Worldbank Group developed this holistic description:
“Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.”2
I know there have been times in my life that I might have dealt with some of the struggles described above, but I feel like I already won a lottery because I was born in a time and place where I was far less vulnerable to the forces that deny people access to food security, good health, clean water, and education that positioned me for entry-level employment.
We’ve all been through so much since early 2020 as we’ve navigated our ways through a global pandemic.
For all these reasons, I find myself talking to a giant billboard near my house that keeps tabs on the size of the Powerball jackpot, saying things like: “I’ve already won. I’m here! I’m thankful for my friends and family! I’m grateful for what I have now!”
Lotteries feed on our fantasies, but I am finding that gratitude is what nourishes me now.
1The World Bank. Monitoring poverty at the US $3.20 and US$5.50 lines: differences and similarities with extreme poverty trends. World Bank Blogs. Press Release. 19 November 2020.
2Marla Berg-Weger. Social Work and Social Welfare: An Invitation. Routledge, 4th edition, 2016, p. 94.
R.A. Kroft writes about her day-to-day journey in living a smaller, more sustainable life and other topics that interest her.
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