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Talking about poverty

It should be something almost prehistoric - a fact known only through dusty books, waiting for the delight of scholars in some prestigious library

CRISTINA MARURI

Monday, 5 October 2020, 19:29

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Talking about poverty in the 21st century should be like talking about the Black Death or the discovery of the wheel. It should be something almost prehistoric. A fact known only through dusty books, waiting for the delight of scholars in some prestigious library. A dark and shameful period that has been largely overcome. A time that humanity wished would be forgotten.

Talking about poverty should never, and in no way, mean that on the way to work we meet a beggar sleeping on cardboard at the entrance of a cash machine. Or hearing on the news that an old man has died alone in his home, because nobody cared. To talk about poverty should not be that a child did not have a childhood, because along with their illusion and innocence, their childhood would have been taken away by the bombs of a war or the animal instincts of a cruel paedophile.

To speak of poverty should not imply that a woman was kidnapped, raped and forced to marry, to live abused as a slave, so much so that she even dreamed that death would come before her. Nor should it mean deformed babies with bulging eyes, huge heads and scarred ribs, in a skin that cools off because life escapes them.

Talking about poverty should not mean the terrible suffering of parents forced to sell a child. Or talk about monsters capable of buying a child and tearing it apart, so that they can usurp the blood, liver or kidney.

Talking about poverty should not only be about strategies, figures, meetings and conventions; because talking about poverty is talking about human beings. Of people, of individuals, of lives; like yours and like mine. They are not worse, defective, inferior, or guilty. It is just that they have not had our luck. There is no other difference. No matter how hard we try, we will not find an excuse.

That is why to continue to talk about poverty is to talk about the greatest shame of humanity. Of its inability to love. Of its lack of empathy and generosity. Of a never-ending defeat: good always loses and evil wins. Of the tragic irony of reaching the moon and not exterminating hunger and thirst. Water, bread and peace.

That is why to speak of poverty with a capital "P" is not to speak of theirs but of ours. Of the meanness and ricketiness of our hearts, which are going down the wrong path and will never reach happiness.

One of their smiles, that are offered to us by those who have nothing and give everything, is worth more than the golden and stupid treasures that in our ephemeral life we are busy accumulating.

To speak of poverty, in short, is to speak of the saddest and most humiliating end of humanity.

Photography by Cristina Maruri can be viewed here

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