Tag Archives: poverty


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india slumsI am very careful about the books I read, and who wrote them, and published them, and why.   I read a lot of books.  Not many novels.  Mostly non-fiction.   However, I started reading Shantaram after I did a lot of research about the author, Gregory David Roberts, and read parts of the book on the internet.  I bought the book because I think the author is an excellent writer, who escaped from a  20-year prison sentence in Australia fled to Bombay (Mumbai) where he lived for many years in the slums with the “untouchables” of India.  He spent most of his time as a solitary nurse treating the injuries and illnesses of his neighbors with a first aid kit in own his tiny hovel.  He never charged money.  He also sold drugs and worked for gangsters to earn a modest living while still in hiding as an escaped convict.  Later, the author was captured in Germany and completed serving his 20 year prison sentence.

What the novel Shantaram reveals about shantaramthe slums and ghettos of Mumbai is something that most Americans don’t know because nobody ever talks about “untouchables”! Poor people are “invisible” to the “upper classes”, i.e. people who earn more than a few dollars a day.   Sixty percent of the 20 million citizens of Mumbai live on only 6% of the land, within a stones throw of the wealthiest people in India. The oppressive disparity of wealth, health services and housing between the rich and poor is an issue in the U.S. and around the world, but most visible and extreme in Mumbai.

ALIEN INTERVIEW, edited by Lawrence R. SpencerI have known many very poor people from the slums of the southern states in the U.S..  They are the same kind of “untouchables” as the people who live in the slums of India.  These are the rapidly growing population of the private prison system in the U.S..  I am reading Shantaram because it is a novel about “untouchables”, written by a convict who also a nurse, a philosopher and an artist with the English language.  Alien Interview It was written by a nurse, dictated to her by an alien philosopher about “untouchables”, who are the entire population of prison planet Earth.   — Lawrence R. Spencer. 2015

Gap Between Rich And Poor: 8th Wonder Of The World

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PARIS—At a press conference Tuesday, the World Heritage Committee officially recognized the Gap Between Rich and Poor as the “Eighth Wonder of the World,” describing the global wealth divide as the “most colossal and enduring of mankind’s creations.”

“Of all the epic structures the human race has devised, none is more staggering or imposing than the Gap Between Rich and Poor,” committee chairman Henri Jean-Baptiste said. “It is a tremendous, millennia-old expanse that fills us with both wonder and humility.”

“And thanks to careful maintenance through the ages, this massive relic survives intact, instilling in each new generation a sense of awe,” Jean- Baptiste added.

The vast chasm of wealth, which stretches across most of the inhabited world, attracts millions of stunned observers each year, many of whom have found its immensity too overwhelming even to contemplate. By far the largest man-made structure on Earth, it is readily visible from locations as far-flung as Eastern Europe, China, Africa, and Brazil, as well as all 50 U.S. states.

“The original Seven Wonders of the World pale in comparison to this,” said World Heritage Committee member Edwin MacAlister, standing in front of a striking photograph of the Gap Between Rich and Poor taken from above Mexico City. “It is an astounding feat of human engineering that eclipses the Great Wall of China, the Pyramids of Giza, and perhaps even the Great Racial Divide.”

According to anthropologists, untold millions of slaves and serfs toiled their whole lives to complete the gap. Records indicate the work likely began around 10,000 years ago, when the world’s first landed elites convinced their subjects that construction of such a monument was the will of a divine authority, a belief still widely held today.

Though historians have repeatedly disproved such claims, theories still persist among many that the Gap Between Rich and Poor was built by the Jews.

“When I stare out across its astounding breadth, I’m often moved to tears,” said Johannesburg resident Grace Ngubane, 31, whose home is situated on one of the widest sections of the gap. “The scale is staggering—it makes you feel really, really small.”

“Insignificant, even,” she continued.

While numerous individuals have tried to cross the Gap Between Rich and Poor, evidence suggests that only a small fraction have ever succeeded and many have died in the attempt.

Its official recognition as the Eighth Wonder of the World marks the culmination of a dramatic turnaround from just 50 years ago, when popular movements called for the gap’s closure. However, due to a small group of dedicated politicians and industry leaders, vigorous preservation efforts were begun around 1980 to restore—and greatly expand—the age-old structure.

“It’s breathtaking,” said Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, a longtime champion and benefactor of the rift’s conservation. “After all we’ve been through in recent years, there’s no greater privilege than watching it grow bigger and bigger each day. There may be a few naysayers who worry that if it gets any wider, the whole thing will collapse upon itself and take millions of people down with it, but I for one am willing to take that chance.”

Added Blankfein, “Besides, something tells me I’d probably make it out okay.”

–LINK to original article in THE ONION.  http://www.theonion.com/articles/gap-between-rich-and-poor-named-8th-wonder-of-the,18914/


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shantaramI am reading an extraordinarily novel based on life experiences living in the slums of Mumbai (Bombay) the largest city in India, by the author Gregory David Roberts.  In his novel Shantaram, the author reveals and relives his escape from prison in Australia and into anonymity of the ubiquitous slums of the largest city in India. As a work of art and literature the book is a masterpiece. Certainly one of the very best of thousands of books I’ve read.

This book changed my  perspective on the selfless spirit and essential goodness of human beings. By contrast, the book exposes the rotting flesh of possession and wealth for it’s own sake — maniacally enforced on Earth by soul-crushing materialists.

I don’t know how to solve the disparity between wealth and poverty, good and evil, wisdom and stupidity. But, I am very sure that my Empathy has been magnified and focused by contrasting the squalid reality of daily life of sub-human slums in the shadow of the skyscrapers that house the wealthiest people in India. Empathy costs nothing except knowing that all sentient beings feel love and suffer the same pain we ourselves.   — Lawrence R. Spencer, 2015