Poverty and Misery

“Poverty, material deprivation, oppression inflicted by those who have power are hard to bear. What is truly insufferable however is being despised and continuously reminded that one is an inferior and utterly useless being. Being treated as a person without dignity even by one’s own is virtually intolerable. “People treat us like nobodies… Are we dogs to be kicked around as we are at the Town Hall?”

This is where the difference lies between poverty and misery. A person in misery suffers an unbearable situation, being considered negligible or, worse, a pernicious being who should never have been born, while deep inside he still knows he is a person. To long for dignity, to dream of being someone and yet to be denied this even by those hardly better off than oneself: the neighbours, the grocer, the mail carrier,… that is misery. And that is what makes the difference between poverty and exclusion”.

Blessed Are You the Poor, Fourth World Publications,1992,pp. 16-17

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