My father was born in Indonesia. When I was fourteen years old he decided it was about time that my sister and I would visit the country he came from. The journey was an eye-opener. At the time Indonesia was still in a development phase. Most houses were made out of bamboo or corrugated sheets, people were not earning a lot and during our trip we met a lot of beggars along the way.
At the verge of my adolescence it made quite an impression on me. To witness with my own eyes how children of my age were having a complete different life with uncertainties about education, food, healthcare, clothing, income and a roof above their head made me realize how lucky and rich I truly was in that sense. However, what struck me the most was the way they showed their love for life; their kindness, happiness and love towards each other despite the circumstances they were in was quite remarkable. Although on the material side they were poor, they possessed a much more valuable asset, i.e., the high level of love and light in their hearts. It definitely changed my view on life going forward.
After so many years passed by I recently was very fortunate to be able to visit my father’s native land again. I was very pleased to see how the country has flourished. Indonesia is definitely no longer what it was back then. It’s more prosperous and due to a solid housing plan most people do have a decent roof above their head and a reasonable income to buy the necessities of life.
However, despite the fact most people achieved some form of economic prosperity their love for life remained unchanged. They continued to possess the wealth of mind which I encountered when I was fourteen years old; love for their family, kindness to others, selflessness, honesty, compassion and so on. They see beauty in things that we are willfully blind for in the western world, like the sunshine on their faces, a blossoming flower, a bird singing and so on.
That was also the case with those who still live in a state of material poverty. While I was there I visited some parts of areas and cities where the contrast between rich and poor was very obvious. I was nearly to tears when I saw how a family of five persons lives day in and day out in a room no bigger than 10 square meter along a railway where each 1,5 minute a train is passing by with little kids playing along that same rail trail. But despite their poverty, they even wanted to share the little they had with me. Although I gave them all the cash I had in my wallet, it was only a drop in the ocean. They and all the other material poor people in the world need that cash every day to survive. It all triggered me to make the video I posted recently.
Although the western world is rich in the material sense of the word, it seems to get poorer in mind with the years passing by. Caught up in the high demands of society, people tend to forget what the true values of life really are about. As a result the percentages of burn-outs, suicides and depressions are still going up. There is little or less appreciation for the fact that housing, food, a job, healthcare and education are a given. Some have become blind for the abundance of matters that are not material related. It shouldn’t be like that. We should take a step back and consider what we truly have in life, particularly those assets which are not material related. And a constructive solution should be found to help those in material need. One of you suggested “zakat” (purification), a form of alms-giving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax that could be given to the poor. No matter what, a change is needed.
Let’s go back to the basics and make an attempt to ban poverty out of this world, in mind as well as in material. I thank you in advance for your help and support in this extremely important matter.
Click on the picture or link to watch the video “Poverty” .