How Poverty Effects Character

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The Role of Wealth in Our World
Poverty is something we all love to talk about when it comes to other people. Unfortunately, when it comes to ourselves it’s a different story. Sooner or later we find out where we stand in the social ladder in life. We find out if we have less than we thought we had or vice versa. I remember the first time I truly learned to appreciate the things that I had. Back in 8th grade I had a friend named Daniel and he lived in a mansion. After a few months of hanging out with him, I started to feel jealousy over the amount of wealth his family had. It made me so angry that Daniel lived in a mansion and I was just a regular middle class kid. What I ended up finding out though is that Daniel’s relationship with his family was pretty dry. Although his family was very rich, they had a poor communication with each other. For example, I never once in the two years I went over there had seen the family eating together. This started to open my eyes to the idea that maybe my life is far more blessed than Daniel’s on account of the fact that my family is rich with culture and love. Like Abraham Lincoln once said “Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow. The shadow is what you think of it; the tree is the real thing” (“Character”). This made me realize that all that time I thought that Daniel had so much more than me, in reality his life was poor in a place that mine was rich. It had me thinking about my blessings. When money, the thing that people claim to love the most, is introduced into a family, it can make things more complicated and even affect their character. In life poverty makes people tend to do desperate things in desperate situations. In “Black Hair,” Gary Soto discusses a very desperate time in his life as a seventeen-year-old runaway living on the streets. He had a job in the Valley Tire Company moving around tires. But that did not seem to help his situation because he was working like an animal for such miniscule pay. As times started to get tough, Soto found himself doing things that most people would not even think of doing. “I searched out a place to sleep and found an unlocked car that seemed safe” (Soto 371). It’s not that Soto was a criminal it’s that poverty has that effect on humans. We are all built to do whatever is necessary to survive. We also tend to find ourselves doing things we would find gross or disgusting. “Before leaving I took a bottle that hung on the side of the coke machine, filled it with water, and stopped it with a scrap of paper and a rubber band” (Soto 369). This shows how when you are starving or thirsty you will go to new fronts to satisfy your body’s basic cravings. Living in that type of poverty is something that many Americans hopefully won’t have to experience, but it is a reality and should be recognized. Although living in poverty is tough, it tends to make people tough. Once someone has been raised a certain way, no amount of wealth will ever be able to change that person’s mindset. For example, if somebody was raised filthy rich and spoiled, they will remain that way even if they lost everything. A friend of mine during high school named Daniel was probably the richest kid in Rochester and had one of the worst attitudes towards work I have ever seen. The emotional factor would be the worst part because a very wealthy person is probably used to other people looking up at them and a sudden change of fortune would change that pretty quickly. You would also find out who you’re real friends were the whole time. I am not trying to be stereotypical but most people who are born rich don’t have that persistency to work hard every day. In other words, they are probably used to getting around the easy way and not having to actually get up early in the morning and work a backbreaking job. This mental mindset can be the difference between life and death in such a transition.

This inability to change a mindset may not only apply to rich people. In...
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