Often, humor was the antidote to loss. The more I listened, the more I learned. Sometimes the lessons cost me my pride.
–White Birch, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir by Nora Murphy
“How are you feeling?” Xie asked.
“Ridiculous,” Long replied.
“I am asking about your health since you arrived five days ago,” Xie said. “Not your pride at this moment.”
The Five Ancestors Book 7: Dragon by Jeff Stone
That night at bedtime Mom and Dad told me how proud they were.
“I’m proud of you too,” said a voice from the doorway.
“Grandma!” I said. “I’m sorry I told you not to be a ninja!”
“No,” said grandma. “I’m through being a ninja anyway.”
“What?” I cried. “You’re just going to be a regular old grandma?”
“I didn’t say that,” she said.
“I’m going to be a pirate instead.”
Happy Day of the Ninja!
He minded being unpitiable only at mealtime. At the orphanage, when rich white women visited, Sunil had refused to beg for rupees. Instead he’d harbored the idea that one of the women might single him out, reward his dignified restraint. For years, he had waited for this discriminating visitor to meet his eye; he planned to introduce himself as “Sunny,” a name a foreigner might like. Eventually, he’d come to realize the improbability of his hope, and his general indistinction in the mass of need. But by then, the habit of not asking anyone for anything had become a part of who he was.
–Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, death, and hope in a Mumbai undercity by Katherine Boo
From the epilogue:
The events recounted in the preceding pages are real, as are all the names. From the day in November 2007 that I walked into Annawadi and met Asha and Manju until March 2011, when I completed my reporting, I documented the experiences of residents with written notes, video recordings, audiotapes, and photographs. Several children of the slum, having mastered my Flip Video camera, also documented events recounted in this book….When I settle into a place, listening and watching, I don’t try to fool myself that the stories of individuals are themselves arguments. I just believe that better arguments, maybe even better policies, get formulated when we know more about ordinary lives.
“She makes amends the same way she goes into battle. Gods help the fool who gets in her way.”
–Fire Logic (Elemental Logic)
Poverty Survivor Defined
A Poverty Survivor is any human being who has survived poverty. The individual may have been poor at some time in the past, in the throes of survival right now, or a member of a family that has (as far anyone knows) always been poor. It’s not about the duration or the cause, it’s about the ability to survive.
Why I Am A Survivor
There is no shame in being poor.
There is no shame in being born into poverty.
There is no shame in having family who is poor.
There is no shame in being homeless.
There is no shame in facing a serious financial crisis.
There is no shame in complete financial life change.
Poverty is a life experience.
I have faced this experience and lived to tell the tale.
I have gained skills.
I have made friends.
I have discovered inner strength.
I have successfully faced thousands of seemingly impossible challenges.
I have gotten through the worst, even when it did not seem possible.
I. Have. Survived.
Therefore, I am a survivor.
I have a right to my pride.
What Poverty Is NOT
It is not a crime.
It is not a sin.
It is not proof of God’s wrath.
It is not proof that a shameful/sinful/criminal act has been committed.
It is not proof of laziness or poor work ethic.
It is not proof of low intelligence.
It is not proof of poor money management skills.
People do not deserve poverty.
People do not choose poverty.
Poverty is not a ‘lifestyle.’
Poverty is not absolute.
Those with wealth may one day see poverty.
Those in poverty may one day see wealth.
Claim Your Pride
Discussions about poverty are to often overshadowed with shame and fear. The process of getting out of poverty frequently involves trying to pass as upper class while hiding both experiences and family connections.
There is no shame in being poor. Addressing the problems people in poverty face is a difficult process made more difficult by our own shame. Proudly declaring that you have survived poverty helps to break down that culture of shame.
We have the right to be treated with respect.
We have the right to aspire to better.
We have the right to hold our heads high.
We have a right to our pride.
“We had grounds to be proud. We were real hikers now. We had shit in the woods and slept with bears. We had become, we would forever be, mountain men.”
–A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail (Official Guides to the Appalachian Trail) by Bill Bryson
Born To Fight
“They’re tryin’ to take away my pride
By stripping me of everything I own
They’re tryin’ to hurt me inside
And make me into a white man’s drone”
“But this one’s not for sale
And I was born to fight”
–Crossroads by Tracy Chapmen