Today, ladies and gentlemen, we will have a discussion about morals. Anytime I think or discuss this topic, I instantly think of the movie Election where Tracy Flick (played by Reese Witherspoon) defines the terms to an annoyingly accurate degree. On an overall scale, she would land somewhere around solicitors in front of stores that want you to sign their petition to help the homeless get boners or cookie dealers trying to get you to buy ten kilos of boxes while you shout, “DON’T JUDGE ME!” as you shuffle to your car. I am looking at you Girl Scouts—stop trying to be my cookie dealer.
I have been on mission trips in the past; the destinations are to parts of the world that are extremely poor and violent. It is so morally bankrupt that relatives and strangers sell children to the highest bidder. People steal any and everything they can (We once had a kid steal a bottle of Softsoap). Sexual assault grows at an exponential rate. In addition, this epidemic is not just in this particular township; South Africa in general has a problem with violent crime. Certain international companies that send employees to South Africa require female team members to take pre-rape counseling.
I remember hearing this and thinking, “I guess it is easy to have morals when you have money.” When you have a place where a town is not big enough to support or provide jobs to the majority, idleness and boredom spread very quickly. People denied the opportunity of supporting themselves eventually become resentful of their situation. To make money, they resort to criminal behavior. To escape real life, they do drugs. The saddest part: children see this behavior and think violence and pain are normal. The cycle of a subpar life continues with the next generation as a type of inheritance, which might be the only thing passed down to them. Moreover, because most of the violent areas in South Africa are comprised of black and colored people, many congregate in these areas because it is all they can afford. These concrete jungles are densely packed and the potential for brutality rises. In these areas, the layout is one reminiscent of a sardine package, as shown in the photo below.
Overcrowding is another aspect of this inability for morals to pervade in society. In the photo above, the town on the right literally has people living on top of each other. Yet, on the left, there’s space galore. Wealth has not only allowed for better living conditions, but actual space. For example, if you are planting crops, to yield the best, you need to give them room to stretch out. Crowding seeds on top of one another produces little, but space allows roots to form.
I am able to abide by my morals and holding onto my principles, and not relent when difficulty arises. I know when I am presented with opposition; I have the time to think of another way to approach the problem; the ability to find a better solution. However, in low-income areas, ideals considered as black and white are now a gradient of grey. Time is linked with opportunity, which slips away quickly. They know it is wrong to steal, but if they need to feed their family, that moral is overlooked for the greater good of self-preservation. I honestly believe violence in these areas all over the world, isn’t attributed to the act itself, but rather needing to feel powerful; wanting to have a moment where they felt important and in charge.
Please note: being poor is not a legitimate reason to break the law nor not supporting violence on any scale. Many people who live in these areas do not succumb to violence to live. However, violence is on the rise in these areas and looking at it from this point of view, I can understand the why behind the action.
What do you think? Does this theory have legs, so to speak? Answer in the comments below, but please do so in a respectful way.
Cover and article image property of: Johnny Miller from http://unequalscenes.com/kya-sandsboubosrand