Monday, June 02, 2008


These past two weeks helped me question and reaffirm why I’m in Panama. I saw poverty for the first time. When you’re not expecting it, it can definitely punch you in the face. Maybe it’s because I thought that Panama City was a reflective of the whole country. (I guess that’s saying Manhattan represents the whole US). And when you realize that there is such a desparity, it really makes you think.

I don’t need to describe the community much, there were latrines, and running water, but the community was either at or below the poverty line.

I still have a hard time of understanding how some people could be so poor and yet so happy. I suppose it throws the whole money=happiness right out the window And the thought that me helping them “improve” their lives would somehow decrease their happiness has definitely crossed my mind more than once…

They are so poor and I want to help. I want to help teach them what I have learned and I know I’ll be learning a lot in the process. I guess it boils down to that: I have learned so much, so how could I not help others with the knowledge I have??


Doug said...

Oddly enough, the poorest countries tend to be the happiest. I think it was Octavio Paz who theorized about Mexicans that, because of the constant economic turmoil in the country, much more importance if placed on social interactions than wordly goods. Therefore, even though some people are really poor, they are still generally happy because their expectations (economic, anyway) are lower.

Seeing poverty and slums in Mexico is also part of the reason why I really don't feel for the "poverty" of North America. In most cases, the idea of the poverty line is a joke, because poverty here is more determined by amount of disposable income rather than falting in the necessities of life. Living in a poor country really makes you in tune with that fact, that 99.9% of the people in North America are rich, even if they don't feel that way.

Anonymous said...

I think it is a mistake to believe that poverty holds virtue or that money corrupts the uncorrupted. Simply, the material image is a personality fault not an economic fallacy. The farce is the image; when I see an Escalade, I merely see 'Escalade money' not wealth.

With high poverty there is a high mortality rate. Perhaps, contributing to the community’s economic infrastructure will in the long term abase individual’s happiness through diluting their culture in exchange for modernization, health care and education systems. Perhaps, increased vitality and the ability for individuals to created wealth is a net credit exchange.

As far as what constitutes individual happiness, Any Rand wrote: “Love is our response to our highest values—and can be nothing else. Let a man corrupt his values and his view of existence, let him profess that love is not self-enjoyment but self-denial, that virtue consists, not of pride, but of pity or pain or weakness or sacrifice, that the noblest love is born not of admiration, but of charity, not in response to values, but in response to flaws—and he will have cut himself in two.”

If you want my thoughts on happiness though you’ll have to give me a call.-bro

Anonymous said...

Hey, just remember, board wax can melt in the sun (but smells good anyway)...

I'm proud of you stepping into a role that most of us wouldn't be brave enough to. You are making an impact - I'm sure of it. We miss ya. Way to go,