Thursday, June 09, 2016

Two Hundred

Chatting to my host, I asked about what people living in Langa were typically able to earn, and how much it cost to live. There are a lot of people out of work. From the 2011 Census, Langa has a population of just over 52,000. Just 60% of those aged 15-64 were employed. A household on average consists of 3 people and 72% of these households have a monthly income of R3,200 or less. Three people living off $215 a month. That is less than £50 per person per month. This is consistent with what I was told. Many jobs will pay around R100 to R200 a day. I can't wrap my mind around that. These people end up trying to work 7 days a week (if they can) in pure survival mode.

One of my pet peeves is the amount of air time the '1%' meme gets. A lot of people believe that half the ills of the world are because of the rich people. Not a lot of people think they are the rich people. Part of this is relativity. Hillary Clinton probably doesn't feel rich because she likely personally knows the large majority of people who are wealthier than her family. To be part of the 'Global Top 1%', you only have to earn an income of $32,000 (R475,000/ £22,000). Less, if you have some savings.

One of the most inspirational people I have met dedicates his time to 'helping people who help themselves'. The idea being that there are lots of difficult problems in the world, but the easiest ones to solve are where there is already resilience. Already passion. Already desire. The filtering process to choose which problems to focus on becomes a little like digging a path for water to flow. You just tweak the landscape, but you don't have to fight gravity.

I think we would do a lot of good redirecting our toughest questions inwards. People don't take criticism well. We all get defensive. We all have issues that are important to us, and reasons why we are too busy to focus on other people's issues. We still seem to find time to moan about others. I think that time would be better spent listening to people. Seeing people.

The more I think about the idea of happiness, the more important I think community is. It is just not okay that we constantly look at people doing 'better' than us. For inspiration. For annoyance. For benchmarks. For pitchfork targets.

Most of the people I know have no reason to moan. Life is tough, and there are non-financial sources of difficulty. Relationship struggles. Fitness struggles. Diet struggles. Meaning struggles. Time struggles. The irony is that this is a type of poverty. The learning that could happen by forming relationships with people with different types of poverty could make us all stronger.

When it comes to resilience, a big part of the Top 1% live in Langa. 

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