Note to readers: This is part of an internal dialog. “You” is not really you, but me as a mirror and sum of our society.
Imagine a homeless guy sitting on a street and people passing by. Glancing at the poor fellow from the corners of their eyes, each person thinks something different about him. One person is thinking, “This guy smells,” with an explicit feeling of disgust and anger. Another has an internal monologue, “Oh boy, he will ask me for money. Do not look him in the eyes. But, should I give him money? I do not want to give him money. Well, I have only plastic...”
I will stop here, freeze the movie, and contemplate.
So, there are these guys and this poor fella... and they all live in some kind of psychological loop. They created a Virginia Woolf style of psychological drama.
Someone jumps into my contemplation and says, “That is God tempting all the people.” In this coliseum of my mind, another religious leader jumps in, saying, “No, that is Saṃsāra. They are caught in the loop of karma.”
I am quietly sitting on the chair, listening to the crowd arguing loudly in my brain, and I am thinking only about one thing: “How can we remove all this? I mean, everything to the last bit. How can we end it? All this drama and drudgery. How can we make it, well, just disappear?”
A wise man whispers from the left: “Yes, Gris, but that will not change who they are,” and I reply to the old man, “True, but...” Let’s walk a few more steps.
In the 19th century, the average lifespan was around 40 years. At the time, people were dying in great numbers just by drinking contaminated water. Other different diseases were taking many lives, as well. People simply did not know about bacteria or that purifying drinking water or simple hand washing can save many lives. Although ancient Rome and Greece both knew about the importance of hygiene, somehow, almost 2,000 years later, people forgot or just did not care. Speaking of which, I find it quite disturbing when, in the 21st century, I see men not washing their hands after using the toilet.
So, yes, people were dying, and many attributed those deaths to bad luck, evil forces, god’s wrath, and fate. But one man could not let it go. He simply could not rest. He was working hard many nights and days, in order to find out what is going on. One day, in 1928, Alexander Fleming isolated antibiotic from mould, now widely known as Penicillin.
From that time, he saved thousands and thousands of lives and extended the lives of huge numbers of people, and no one complained that they will somehow insult the gods if they would die earlier.
That being said, let's imagine if we try to solve poverty once for all by, for instance, implementing Unconditional Basic Income and, in the best case, we succeed.
True, we still would be far from utopia, as people being people will still have issues, but there will be no more begging, no more foul-smelling people, no more dying in the cold nights while sleeping on the street, and no more of that guilty mental dialog in each of those heads — or at least significantly fewer.
Those who were beggars yesterday would have their dignity back. They could socialise, learn, explore, and be part of the larger community, and, with a bit of help, maybe they could have a more meaningful life from their own perspective and the perspective of society.
The rest of the population would be proud to say, “This is what our society and progress have achieved! Once, we were letting people die on the street and go hungry every day, and now all that has changed.”
What if we do nothing?
What if we do not implement Basic Income or some other safety net?
Just as with any human right, nothing will change. The poor will probably stay poor, and the mental drama between beggars and givers will continue, with the small addition that one day, although it looks impossible right now, due to automation, you may find yourself in the beggar’s shoes.
Now, I dare you to imagine: what if we remove money and all the issues connected with money?
Please just try. It does not take effort; be brave and let your imagination flow. What would it be like if there was no money and machines provided for everyone?
Are you afraid that people will become lazy? What did you expect?
After all, we were working all this time to reach this goal.
Let go of jealousy and do not worry. They won’t be lazy, they will just have freedom like we never had before.
Now, you could say, “But that will never happen.“
Yes, it will! All this time we have been moving toward it, and we have not changed that direction.
The only question is, “Do we all get there, or just a greedy few?”
Note: This story is intentionally similar to the story "About Removing the Drudgery of Poverty", it is exploration of writing alternatives - portray of branch versus linear thinking.