The opposite of poverty is not wealth. In too many places the opposite of poverty is justice.
- Bryan Stevenson Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative
A thought provoking idea. I thought there is so much rationale behind this idea. Not for anything else but Justice. Then, I was thinking, so can this be applied to say “The opposite to impact of subjugation, harassment, inequality etc. is …”? Is the answer same? Yes, but not in same context. Why not?
I think answer lies in the very perception I have about poverty. Is poverty just an impact of being deprived of wealth? If so, then lack of wealth is not necessarily always the single influencing factor towards such ills faced by wealth-deprived-section-of-society. Lack of wealth doesn’t need to translate to things like constant subjugation, harassment or inequality. In short, poverty is not always an impact of these. So what am I missing? Aha, the lack of Justice. It is the lack of Justice to poor which has linked poverty directly to such things in many societies including US. If however in India, lack of justice could be towards even rich. If there is no lack of Justice, poverty as a state of being can carry along as it is. Nothing wrong with it.
Personally, I think there is nothing wrong with this. Not everyone in a society can be rich nor can everyone be poor. Society is made of both and multitude of other states of being. Many a times it is just a choice of a sub-section of society or, if objectively put, choice of an individual. Sometimes educational or religious institutions affect these choices. But I am not here talking about all that.
I believe, a poor is no different than a wealthy. Both know this - “I need to earn to bargain for food, love, and education”. Both work towards so. However, the problem for the society arises when they step on each other’s toes when striding towards so. Then if society has to decide who is at fault, it is the test of Justice. Whom then does our laws of society side with? Poor or Wealthy? Hindu or Muslim? Kashmiri or State? Wealthy corporation or Income Tax babus? Oh, by the way, if for society decides to side at all, there is end to Justice.
Lack of Justice, or society’s incapability to deliver Justice to any sub-section of society, in case of Bryan Stevenson - the poor, is what I want to talk about here. In fact, it is not Justice at all even when delivered to everyone in a nation but one (whoever that one be!).
So after writing so much I dare to modify his quote like this -
If an impact of an action is such that its an hindrance in thing’s ability to learn, express, love, and earn. Then opposite of that impact is Justice.
See I got it. It isn’t poverty, I was looking for a wider encompassing term – though an impact is all I could manage. Poverty at some places could be one such impact, but as I said before it also is driven by many other social and economic factors. Signing off with this wonderful TED talk by Bryan Stevenson, which inspired me to write after really long time!