Are We Desensitized to Poverty?

Suffering, poverty, low income, and poor are words we’re too familiar with as a country. When I was in middle school and started learning subjects like history and geography, I often read the sentence ‘Ethiopia is a developing country’ and that made me feel hopeful for what was to come. Fast forward a few years and I’m contemplating what kind of state we are in. In the middle of chaos and unfortunate events, I want to talk about the vulnerable persons who are now exposed and are being exposed to poverty every single day. We see it up close and personal, every day while we strive to go to work or go on with our day. My question is, are we too desensitized to show empathy?

  Are we way too familiar with suffering that we become less and less emotionally affected? We forget that those kids in the street have the same wants and needs we do. It has come to a point that most of us avoid individuals who might need urgent medical care for fear of it being a con. If not, it’s the ‘bystander effect’ where people are less likely to offer help or intervene when other people are present because of the assumption that someone else will take action. Or are we desensitized because we are privileged? I’d say no. why? Aside from the few riches that enjoy the highest luxuries Addis can offer- and ironically, there are hundreds of places that may surprise you- most of us reside in the lower and middle class of the economy. That being said, privilege is a word I wouldn’t use on people who spend more than half their income on paying rent, and who live paycheck to paycheck to satisfy their needs.

I read somewhere that democracy can not survive overpopulation. Meaning that as we put more and more people into the world, the value of life declines. It doesn’t matter what happens to one person; the more people there are, the less one individual matters. It is horrible to think about but does not make it less true.

The more we are exposed to things, it becomes the new normal. That’s the law of our nature. We become apathetic and unphased and pretend not to see the struggles of other people. Moreover, as time went by, economic, political, and social factors changed the trajectory of events and most people lie in the category of being in survival mode. Everybody has their problems to deal with behind closed doors. Yet again, Will this lead to the erosion of fundamental moral structures?

It is important to note that it is always crucial to cultivate empathy and a sense of compassion. While you might believe you are a compassionate person, experiences like this will leave you questioning what kind of person you are and what you stand for. At the end of the day, it’s not the thoughts that count.

Written by: Ruth Mekasha

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