Poverty and Dirt

Poverty and Dirt

Why is poverty so deeply intertwined with dirt and junk?

Voiced by Kirsten Colquhoun

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Poverty and Dirt

Why is poverty so deeply intertwined with dirt and junk?

Have you ever noticed that poor people's homes are usually filled with dirt and old junk? Cobwebs are everywhere, every window is dirty and, for some reason it's always dark. Sometimes they say that they are saving on electricity, but it's still dark even if the sun is shining.

Do poor people feel so disempowered by their situation that they don't even find it necessary to clean? Is poverty reinforced by their outlook? What is the source of poverty? Is there a chance that poverty is self-inflicted? Well, its difficult to say. But there are four main factors that may make someone accept, or even subconsciously encourage, poverty.

The first factor is mentality. Once, I made friends with a girl at work. She was pleasant, had a good attitude, and seemed to have her head on straight. After we befriended each other, she invited me to come over. When I arrived, I was shocked by the condition of her apartment. If you judged by her appearance, you'd never expect the dirty fly-blown windows, greasy chairs, chipped mirrors and mountains of junk scattered throughout the apartment. There was even a broken flowerpot, which she tied up with an old stocking! While we were talking, all I could think to myself was “How much would it cost to buy new wallpapers and a clean sofa?” I could barely resist the urge to clean the windows, bleach the ceiling, and dump the sticks and pieces of old cardboard sticking out from under the sofa. No matter where I looked, my eyes settled on some kind of damage, dirt, stains or trash. I immediately felt bad, and thought that maybe she was really short of money. However, I remember that we worked together, and the job
aid well. There was no excuse. It's just who she was.

I never noticed it during my childhood, but all of my friends whose parents were rich had clean, bright apartments. My friends whose parents had financial problems had dirty, gloomy apartments that were filled up with all kinds of junk. Filth is not caused by lack of money, but by a certain sick mentality. Being broke is the state of not having much money. Living in poverty is not having money combined with an ill mindset.

The second factor is when people save for a day that never comes. For example, you might drink from an ugly old cup when there are new, prettier ones in the cupboard because you are waiting for some special occasion. However, in their cases, this special occasion will probably never happen. They might be waiting to clean when they get more money or find a new apartment. But they never get more money or find a new home, so the situation declines.

Another factor that contributes to poverty is when people are unwilling to spend money on themselves. This can be caused by low self-esteem, where the person doesn't believe that he or she deserves nice things. When poverty is caused by low self-esteem, it can be really hard to get rid of because it's in those people's natures.

The last, and most important aspect is that poverty breeds poverty. When poverty and filth become the norm, people begin to feel more comfortable in it. If someone lives in shabby rooms and filth every day, they expect it for themselves. They begin to believe that they are losers and may even drag it to new places if they move or live with someone else.

The first step to overcoming an illness is admitting that you have one, and there is no shame in admitting it. I'm sure you've heard the expression “Wealth is a state of mind”. This expression is completely true, and so is the reverse. The only way to beat it is to change the way you think and acknowledge that you deserve better.


  • poverty
  • deeply intertwined
  • junk
  • cobwebs
  • saving on
  • disempowered by
  • reinforced
  • self-inflicted
  • encourage
  • a good attitude
  • have her head on straight
  • befriended each other
  • fly-blown
  • greasy
  • scattered
  • stocking
  • bleach the ceiling
  • cardboard sticking out
  • settled on
  • damage
  • short of money
  • gloomy apartments
  • filth
  • mindset
  • declines
  • contributes to
  • unwilling to
  • low self-esteem
  • breeds
  • drag it