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Poverty Has a Creation Story: Let’s Tell It Poverty Has a Creation Story: Let’s Tell It
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Poverty Has a Creation Story: Let’s Tell It

August 3, 2013
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One of the major discoveries was that anti-poverty groups, both in North and South, rarely if ever explain where poverty comes from. This is a critical omission in the common sense of poverty. It means that there is no clear, logically robust understanding of (a) what causes poverty, (b) who the principal actors are, and therefore (c) a solution that can be readily and widely accepted.
 
Every religion has a creation story. So does every tribe, nation, and ideological camp. The creation story provides the original cause from which all else logically follows. Because poverty has no creation story, there is no mental architecture that helps us envision it ever being eradicated. To succeed at changing this common sense, we need to introduce the creation story.
 
So where does poverty come from? An in-depth answer to this is beyond the scope of this piece, but we published this article recently to bring attention to what we believe are structural and systemic causes of inequality—a set of financial rules introduced by an elite minority to game the global economy. 
 
By framing mass poverty as something that is created by human beings, we fill a crucial hole in the logic of poverty. And once this hole is filled, logical targets arise, it becomes apparent where to invest resources to create meaningful change, and how others can get involved. In short, we gain an agenda for change that is bigger and more radical than small transfers of money from rich to poor and one that, crucially, works with the power of common sense.
 
If we are to transform the systems that create and perpetuate poverty, we will have to change the logic of the debate. Doing this will require that we incorporate the best science of human understanding into our strategies. The knowledge exists for us to begin down this road; we just need to use it. 
 
This post is condensed from a longer version that appears on Think Africa Press, and is republished with permission.
 
Creative Commons photo used courtesy Matteo Angelino.
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