02 May, 2009


Blood and Milk asks, "Does poverty make people cruel?"

People living in poverty do cruel things, they steal, they lie, they abandon their families, they sell their children into slavery, they abuse their families, etc. etc.

But so do the rest of us.

And the wealthy are equally as cruel. Who controls the factories, the brothels, who chooses to employee the illegal immigrant because they can pay them less, who abuses the illegal immigrant because their rights are less, who purchases the girls in brothels?

Cruelty is a condition of the fall, and I don't think that the lack of wealth or the abundance of wealth makes you any more or less cruel. It's what you do in the direness of your situation, or the excess of your power that matters. It's not poverty that leads to cruelty, but ego, ethical standards, past experiences, lack of trust, lack faith or hope that things with change, fear.

What is cruelty but the choice to extend dominion over another?

Or, as one commenter suggested:

...Inequality makes people cruel. That explains the people on the bottom end of the pyramid forced into cruel actions and cruel choices, and the people on the top end, so far from poverty that poor people and their problems no longer seem real to them. It’s easy to be cruel when you can’t see your victims. Or when you think their problems are inevitable and can’t be solved. Or when you think poor people make themselves poor or even aren’t quite human. Inequality creates the kind of distance that makes that happen.

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© Amanda Lunday