Thursday, March 29, 2007

Poverty of a Different Kind

Watching "The Corporation" today, I tried to balance my normal infuriating reaction with some semblance of openness toward the message. While there were some things that I still think are way off base, there was one conclusion that I drew from the film:

We, in North America, live in poverty.

It's not the same kind of poverty that you see in places that suffer from disease and malnourishment. Ours is a poverty of spirit. It's a poverty of perpetual hunger for more. Emile Durkheim, a prominent French sociologist, said something to the effect of "a need fulfilled only leads to the desire for more." We live in a culture that is never satisfied... we always want more profits, higher productivity, better cars, bigger houses...

The tragic part of all this is that it comes at the expense of those who live in a more tangible kind of poverty. Corporations in North America benefit from the cheap labour of those who work simply to afford food for their families... and many work for less than that. We can judge the corporations who do that as evil, but who supports them? Who benefits from the lower prices? Or, who seeks after the prestige of certain brands?

The cry of my heart these days is why can I not simply be content. Why must I always want more, need more?

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