10 May 2014

Did Poverty Drive Extremist Kidnapping in Nigeria?

Someone on a news program today said that poverty drives extremism.  It was in reference to the kidnapping of the girls in Nigeria.   But the comment didn't quite ring true with me, because it is  a common misconception that being poor drives poor people to be unethical, thus to lives of crime   Unfortunately that misconception translates into a societal attitude of "being poor is a crime".  But it doesn't end there.  Said attitude drives a polarity that creates haves and have-nots, deserving and undeserving, with the enabling vehicle being every conceivable prejudice a group of like minded individuals can choose to share as reason to create exclusive organizations and institutions rather than inclusive ones.   In reality,  it is more probable that poverty is less likely to lead to crime than is the luxury of being greedy.  Greed is a weakness of human nature.  But choosing to be a person who makes a habit of rising above greed is a strength of human nature.

Consider that women, and children (both boys and girls), and men - none of whom would not choose to sell themselves - are kidnapped, extorted, manipulated, and/or sold everyday, everywhere, against their wills, into servitude, marriage, or worse.  As vile and shameful as it is, it is also nothing new or unusual.  Shining a light is the first step to working together to put an end to it.

Too often it is the people closest to the victims, their families, who do the selling - and/or collaborating and enabling of it, sometimes unknowingly but too often knowing full well what they are enabling.  Why?  It is assumed the desperation  of poverty is what motivates crime and terror, as the news report suggested.   But too often it is, instead, what has become a societal desperation of greed that motivates - the greed of someone in the family or someone close to the victim; or perhaps such a person is an enabler of the nefarious deeds because of having been extorted and/or manipulated by the greed of another.

Ask anyone "Do you have enough money to afford your necessities?", and the answer will almost always be "no" because people will always live up to the amount of their incoming funds, and want more to enable the lives they envision living - no matter what their amount of income and buying power.   To want more is one thing, but to lust after more is another - it becomes  greed.  Rich, poor, in-between . . . no one is exempt from the temptation of greed.  And no one is exempt from choosing to avoid that temptation.  It is  not necessary for anyone's funds to become more limited  in order for greed to set in and develop because of a feeling of deprivation.  In fact it is not unusual that the more income increases over the years, the more entitled some people feel to be greedy and unethical about wanting to further increase income and buying power . . .  by any means possible.  Thus prejudices develop and crimes are committed.

In an effort to be creative about the means of successfully pursuing what greed wants, prejudices develop towards whomever greed imagines it can manipulate in it's efforts to acquire more.  And acquiring more is  at the cost of depriving others at whom prejudices are directed.; prejudices that lead the greedy to feel like better people, thus leading them to a feeling of being entitled to be greedy . . .  and prejudiced.

Clearly greed spawns some serious circular thinking - the torque of greed that the greedy go through in an effort to justify the nefarious intents and choices of greed - a real vicious circle spin intended to create confusion and pass unwarranted blame.   Creating confusion and passing unwarranted blame is the pitiful "glory" of the power of greed - the greed for power, buying power, political power, and/or otherwise. 

Still, as has always been the case, there are only two types of people, only two ways in which people can be defined:  1) the unethical 2) the ethical.  And the difference?  It is not about "right" and "wrong", and it's sure not about political "left" and "right", nor conservative and liberal thinking.   It is not about political ideologies.  It is about why we do what we do and how we do it.  Our motives, our intentions, and our actions either deprive and harm others or they do not; that is, they are either unethical or they are ethical.  Greed is never a valid reason to be unethical, yet it is ordinarily the motive behind unethical choices and actions.

We usually refer to unethical nefarious actions as being criminal when it is an individual, and as terrorism when it is institutionalized (crimes enabled by formal or informal groups, corporations,  governments, or nations). Needless to say, a person, corporation, government, or nation that blames personal or institutionalized nefarious choices and behaviors on religion or any other ethical belief system, is unethical.  
Whenever anyone makes a decision he or she has the power to choose to do no harm - has the power to choose to not allow personal greed to manipulate situations in unwarranted ways that are designed to force others to make damaging sacrifices they are unable and unwilling to make.  A group of people, collectively, also has the power to make that choice.

As for me, I can not rationalize away the terrorism of selling the temple of anyone's soul by claiming "poverty made them do it".   Those who organize a rabble of people (a number of people without a lot of money, power, or social status) into a militant, violent, terrorist gang are neither bourgeoisie, poor, nor apolitical, but they are greedy.  Bet on it.