What’s wrong with the word poor?


In recent meetings I have noticed that my fellow writers have a definite aversion and phobia when it comes to using the word poor.

As a child I grew up understanding that rich was the opposite of poor and in my mind this was confined simply to monetary wealth.  As I have matured I realize that there is more to wealth than just money and more to poverty than debt.

It is usual for the rich to have money but this is not the only thing. Wealth, monetary and other is associated with power and power gives opportunity and freedom. The truly wealthy are not obligated to work at all. Imagine that!

I believe that if you need to work you belong to the poor. If you have a mortgage , a loan or other debts that you have to pay for you belong to the working poor, just like me I regret to say.

The truly rich on the other hand do not have debts and live off their investments, and income generated from businesses. This allows educational, recreational and creative opportunities we can only imagine in our wildest dreams.

But are the rich happier than the poor. Clearly if you are so poor that you are cold and hungry, life is hardly happy. Is there a way though in which the working poor enjoy friendships and community in a way which the fast living, wealthy fail to. Sometimes there is abundance of posessions and opportunity but ironically insufficient time to enjoy all that they have. 

Last summer I worked in Calgary and had very little time off but every spare second was spent camping in the mountains and fishing on the lakes. Humberto and I had a fantastic time enjoying the glorious beauty of the Canadian Rockies. Not a bank breaker, but restoration for heart, soul and mind.

So perhaps my point is that you can be wealthy but somehow miss out on the simple inexpensive joys which nature has to offer. Or somehow life becomes so busy that there is not the time to enjoy family and friends by sharing a relaxed meal with time to converse, for example. May be we have more possessions but have lost some quality of living in our personal relarionships.

I heard today that many people in Puerto Vallarta work 12 or more hours a day in service industries connected to tourism. The result of this is that the dental health of this population has become a public health concern due to poor eating habits and poor dental hygiene. It makes me sad that these folks are paying for our good times with their health.

So there seems to plenty wrong with being poor but why the phobia in using the word amongst writers. What is so offensive in this word. Perhaps we are more comfortable using obscenities than a legitimate word like poor. May be it is because poor infers bad and this is so far from the truth. I see no disgrace in being poor, and it does not imply a crime. On the contrary I think most poor people display goodness, generosity and honesty.

So if this is the case we writers shouldn’t be so phobic about using a perfectly decent word like poor.

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About Charlotte Ortega

I am a family physician and writer.I am an active member of the Puerto Vallarta Writers Group and I am coordinating this years International Writers Conference to be held in March in association with Los Mangos Library.Winters are spent in Mexico to escape the cold and the summers in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I am British born but have not lived in the U.K. since 1997. My blog is intended to inform would be travellers and those who view Mexico as a preferred retirement destination on every aspect of living in Mexico, the good and the other...My husband Humberto is Mexican and is a font of knowlege on the diverse cultural and social nuances which exist in this vibrant and colourful country.
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