This week’s class raised very interesting questions and led to a thought-provoking discussion about the relationship between poverty and the degradation of the environment. The question that seemed most difficult to respond to was: is the relationship between poverty and the environment direct or indirect? I will be honest to say that before reading the article and listening to the discussion about poverty and the environment, this topic is something that typically goes undiscussed or overlooked in my circle of friends, but now I can see the value and importance of being able to work through difficult and uncomfortable conversations and how these kinds of conversations are essential for there to be change in society.
During the in-class discussion, there were two sides of the argument of whether there is a direct relationship between the environment and poverty. The “Yes” perspective argued that poverty does indeed have a direct relationship with the degradation of the environment, because it is the poor who are having to survive and live by the primary economic activities, which is ultimately placing a strain on natural resources and hurting the environment. I was on the “No” side of the argument, which was that while there is undeniably a relationship between poverty and the environment, there is not necessarily a direct relationship between the two. The article I read which defends the argument that there is not a direct relationship, supports the idea that the relationship between poverty and the environment is much more complex and requires people to look at the problem with a locally drawn understanding. Throughout the discussion in class, we addressed many different possible improvements that could be made in our society concerning poverty and whether those improvements should be supported and financed by the government or should be more dependent upon the community of people who are impoverished. In my breakout discussion group, we discussed and agreed that while there should be support from the government on making improvements to the poorer communities, we need to place our focus more on educating the people about the environment and showing them ways to improve their communities. One takeaway from the article that stuck with me is that we need to remember that the people living in poverty have just as many rights as anyone else and we need to treat them and form relationships with them with that in mind. Overall, I really enjoyed this article and this week’s discussion in class because it ultimately showed me that there will most likely always be inequalities and financial insecurity in our society, because we do not live in a perfect world. Yet we have opportunities to love and help others through building relationships and investing in the lives of people who may not look like us, have the same life experiences, or the same financial means of living.
This week I enjoyed the mindfulness practice, which was finding a quiet place to be still and to color a mandala. However, it was hard for me almost to ease my mind completely, just because Tuesday had been super busy. I felt like even during the mindfulness practice, I was not able to quiet my thoughts and be still. However, coloring the mandala did allow me to just enjoy a moment to myself in silence and it was very enjoyable.