So I was in Barnes & Noble paging through some books I had no intention of buying because I'm cheap… sipping my $4 latte (yes, there was a hint of sarcastic irony there) and came across a book called "Poor People" by a certain William Vollmann–I'm sure his friends call him Bill. Anyway, Bill, who has written quite a few books on social issues according to the publisher decided to write a book detailing his interactions with poor people around the world (including folks in Thailand) and asking them simply, Why are you poor?!
Well, as you can imagine, this was pretty interesting if not all together depressing… which I suppose could be expected as I sipped my coffee and was reminded that half the world lives on less than a couple bucks a day! At any rate, some of his stories were really quite intriguing as he retold his interviews with these different people and I'd encourage you to waste some time paging through this book if you ever get the chance.
But one thing really stuck out to me… it was the poor in places like the U.S. and Japan who really "felt poor" even though they had much more compared to the others in the book from places like Thailand and Kenya because they had a much deeper sense of "relative poverty". In other words, the people around them had so much more than they had they felt much poorer; where as people in Kenya, who live in poverty, have less than others around them but it wasn't as if they had so much less that they felt completely isolated from the society around them.
Maybe not the most profound stuff ever, but it did make me wonder how I make people around me feel poor and vice versa.