Poverty sounds like a privilege

Gandhi doesn’t talk about poverty in the way we think about it today. He’s not suggesting people suffer and become dependent on charity, right? So what does it mean to adopt poverty as Gandhi suggests?

Those who have money are not expected to throw it away, but they are expected to be indifferent about it. They must be prepared to lose every penny rather than give up passive resistance.

How do those who have money understand it well enough to prepare themselves to lose every penny? Even simple living in the US is pretty excessive. I personally hate losing money, knowing what it could have done for some of my favorite nonprofits.

I want to passively resist factory farming that is cruel to animals and bad for the environment. I am willing to go broke in the process, but if I couldn’t afford or find cruelty-free, sustainable groceries, should I not eat at all? At the same is it even right to spend extra money on good food knowing there are people right outside my apartment who are homeless and hungry? Gandhi might say by adopting poverty we become indifferent to the money as well as goods, and this is why passive resistance takes so much strength. In any case, avoiding the evils of our modern civilization is expensive unless you find the right thrift stores (and even then it costs time).

  1. As truth-seekers what is stopping us from adopting poverty and the clarity that comes with it, or why shouldn’t we?
  2. Can I justify less than full commitment to this passive resistance if it means focusing on other work that is important to me?

2 thoughts on “Poverty sounds like a privilege

  1. It’s definitely true that the cost of living, especially in the Bay Area, is extremely high. I think it would be possible to adopt poverty and live very simple lifestyles …elsewhere.
    Unless we could achieve critical mass in a population able to survive on little means, it will always be expensive to live in close proximity to others and comfortable services.

    It does seem difficult to imagine giving anything less than full commitment to achieve his ideals, which makes me wonder: what is the middle ground? Surely there is something we can do that will let us meet Ghandi part way.

  2. I don’t know if there was a meeting Gandhi half-way stance you could take that he would acceptable? From this and other writing’s of Gandhi I’ve read he was pretty hardcore about pretty much everything. He firmly believed in practicing what you preach and “being the change that you want to see in the world.”

    Now maybe the change you want to see in the world is one of moderation. That in itself can be revolutionary. If the change you want to see in the world involves the world as a place where the well to-do help the less well to-do through recognition and respect, and you live your life fully engaged with that promose, then it would in one way be fulfilling Gandhi’s intentions.

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