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The Case for Our Poverty
« on: July 31, 2008, 11:44:36 PM »
The Case for Our Poverty
By A.M.B. Apalisok

      It took three months before I read an email from a college chum, now a US citizen.  I thought it not urgent for two reasons:  it came from her and the title is Why Is the Philippines Poor?   
 
      “…Enjoy reading,” begins her forwarded email that turned out to be a chain. The contents are beyond refuting.  They rest on solid grounds of research and common perception.   
 
      That it came from someone like my friend who had escaped my country’s poverty by becoming a citizen of a rich one is a different matter.  It’s like gazing at one’s own navel and blaming the dirt in its recesses on someone else.   
 
      But here lies the difference between rich and poor countries, according to the email.  It’s not in age; India and Egypt are more than 2000 years old, but they are poor compared to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand that go only as far back as 150 years.   
 
      Neither is it in available natural resources.  Super manufacturer Japan has a limited, mostly mountainous territory.  So is Switzerland, the world’s safest place with the best chocolates where no cacao grows.   
 
      Race or skin color is inconsequential.  Immigrants labeled lazy in their countries of origin, it says, are the productive power in rich European countries.  Executives from rich countries in touch with their counterparts from poor countries claim that there is no significant difference in intellectual prowess.   
 
      It’s in the “attitude of the people framed by the education, & the culture & flawed tradition.”  Now that’s something.  With due respect to the email’s author, I wonder how any nation’s culture and tradition could be deemed flawed, by what measurement, and for what nobler purpose other than wealth.     

      Another sweeping claim is that majority of the people in rich countries live with some principles compared to only a minority in poor countries.  These are “ethics, integrity, responsibility, respect to the laws & rules, respect to the rights of other citizens, work loving, strive for savings & investment, will of super action, punctuality, and of course… discipline.”  Bravo.  Doubtless, these are principles of worth, though most of these may or may not have any bearing on a country’s wealth.   

      History holds its own truth as well.  Pax Romana in its heyday sacked most of the known world.  Ethical it wasn’t, but it enriched Rome.  Britain at its peak filled its coffers through its dominion over palm and pine, until it brought about the likes of Gandhi from poor India, with his principles.
 
      Japan attacked its neighbors for its own interests.  And Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are now apologizing for their past maltreatment of Indians and Aborigines, the original landowners wrenched out of their traditional lands.  And whose land was it before there was such a country as the USA?  Those owners were almost exterminated as a nation. Israelis are richer compared to Palestinians.  Guess whose lands were grabbed. 
 
      So, the US is more interested in the undemocratic Middle East than in the genocide in Darfur.  The latter has no oil.  The former has.  Iraq has.  Last I read, there was a paper readied at the beginning of the Iraq invasion that stipulates that 30 percent of Iraqi oil goes to the US.  Maybe this shows principle No. 8, the “will of super action.”
 
   Afghanistan has no oil, but it’s bordered by oil-producing former Soviet satellites and oil-producing Russia’s influence in the Middle East has to be kept at bay.  So let’s not talk principles, please, when it comes to wealth of countries.     

      Further, the email claims, “we lack the correct attitude” and “the will to comply with and teach these functional principles of rich and developed societies.”  Try calling lazy a Filipino farmer who tills his land from sunrise to sunset or the stevedore who carries those balikbayan boxes, and industrious those thousands who live on welfare in rich countries.
 
      Maybe we can add that we are poor because ours is a country that never sought to enrich itself at the expense of other countries.  Which is also to say that being rich is relative. 
 
      Meanwhile, beyond a country’s material wealth is the gross national happiness (GNH).  We rank 12th out of 50 countries.  The USA follows at rank 13.   Another study pegs us at 17th out of 178 countries.  My friend’s adopted country is 150th.  Now I have her to thank for compelling me to count my blessings more. 

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Romans 10:9
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Laziness Causes Poverty

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