I got up earlier than I usually do today, around nine. This meant I had a little more free time than usual in the morning, and I wasn't quite sure what to do with it. I read some of my book for my AP Lang summer assignment and watched some videos online to kill the time before lunch. The day felt nice, but the low cloud cover gave the impression of a slow, uninteresting day. It turned out quite the opposite for one reason.
An economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, a friend of our professor's, came and gave our class a lecture on development economics. Development economics is the study of economics in very poor countries, and is focused on bettering living conditions and stimulating economies in the poverty-stricken areas of the world. The lecture detailed the ideas of poverty and the relative prosperity of all the countries on Earth and showed us various measures of "Global Poverty." Among these measures were GDP per capita, infant mortality rate, and the percent of the population living on or less than one dollar a day. We were then asked the question: "How would you live on one dollar a day." This is something I have never thought about. I have always known that there were extremely poor people, and it has always alarmed and distressed me, but I had never thought about it in this way. I couldn't figure out what to do. I realized that one dollar a day isn't enough to feed yourself and get water at the same time. You can't buy any clothes. You can't buy anything except food or water. And even then, you have to decide between the two. The fact that people are really experiencing this appalls me, even more so now that I really understand what they are living on, and at the same time fills me with a mutated sense of joy. It is really amazing to me that these people do live. The fact that these people make do and raise children and still provide love to these children is absolutely incredible. I would fold. I would not be able to survive like that, let alone be part of a community or love someone.
This lecture both horrified me and gave me some beautiful faith in humanity at the same time.
What I hear most when people are contemplating the hardships of others is the drone of how lucky they feel that they aren't in that situation, and how they had taken their position for granted. I did not have this same feeling. I am fully aware of how lucky I am, and I try hard not to take what I have for granted. What this lecture did do is it made me realize the unimaginable fortitude of people who aren't as fortunate as me. I suppose they don't know anything else, but that doesn't mean that they are happy. I can't get over the fact that people really do live like this and continue to have families and provide for their families. I'm a cynical person, but this lecture made me realize that people really are good and will strive for what they love when stripped of all else. Beauty is always somewhere to be found.