Definition of poor

The other day, someone told me that she thought I was poor, I was the poorest person she knows. I was very surprised that she thought of me like that: I don’t feel poor and I don’t think I am poor, and I have everything I want or need.
Poor means what? Not being to able to buy whatever you want, whenever you want? Does being poor means that you only have second hand clothes? Baking your own bread? Always cooking from scratch, from seasonal products? Canning your own preserves? Never buying new toys for the children for birthdays nor Christmas? Never buy new furniture nor electronics (yes, I am waiting for my first flat screen which surely will come my way when in my surroundings it should be about time to get a new tele…)? Only have what others don’t want anymore and throw out? Not running to the shop when something is broken in the house to replace it? Nothing going on a holiday or perhaps family days out?

What is poor about making your own toys, baking fresh breads, cakes and muffins, canning all kind of tasty foods, mending your ripped clothes, dehydrating fruits and vegetables, saving candle leftovers to make new candles, reusing old jeans and other clothes to make quilts and so on. I can’t see any poorness there.

Perhaps my life isn’t as easy as others, true… Having my own company (meaning money is never the same), raising 2 kids without child support from their father isn’t always the easiest thing to do, perhaps. But frankly, it doesn’t feel like that at all. We have a roof above our head, having wonderful, healthy foods and are just ok dressed. Yes, according to set norms, I do live far below the poverty norms.. but all I can see in my life is a lot of wealth and I do live the life I want to live. What else should I need?


3 thoughts on “Definition of poor

  1. I think both the word and the concept of “poor” are interesting because they depend so much on your point of view. The word is also a very emotional one because of the stigma attached to “being poor.”

    People who are unemployed, living in government housing and receiving money from the government might object to being called poor. (At least that is what I see here.) There are others that I think of, maybe thinking back to some country people, who don’t mind being called that, who say “we are poor but happy” or “poor but proud.” They see being poor as having no money for things above bare minimum but are grateful and pleased at what they do have and are able to do. If their peers are also at the same standard of living then there is less of a stigma.

    Then you have the concept that except for the homeless, almost anyone in North America, Britain or Europe are “rich” compared to the poor in Africa or some parts of Asia. Our houses and gardens might seem huge and luxurious to them. However I know of Africans who have very little and who look at so many in the “rich” places and very astutely notice the poverty of spirit here.

    There are also variants in the meaning of poverty depending on who is setting the standards – for instance the government requirements, perhaps, of only having X number of children per room.

    It’s more than a bank balance, or not having a negative bank balance. For me poverty means uncertainty – having very little confidence that basics (food, shelter and clothing) will be supplied month to month – and having very few options to supply those needs (i.e. being able to do only one job and having no guarantee in one’s area that that job will always be there – coal mining communities a century ago, for example). It’s one thing to wonder if you will have employment 6 months from now, but still have time to arrange other things – its another thing to have no extra food in the house today, and find that you have lost your job, and know there are no possibilites in your area.

    Just some thoughts – as I said, I find it interesting! Sorry I got so wordy!

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