Sunday 11th June, 2006


Decide to rise above your circumstances

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According to University of Berkley Prof Ibrahim Warde, “Culture is notoriously tricky to analyse. It is multifaceted, somewhat amorphous and hard to pin down the product of historical process and socio-economic variables it influences investors preferences.”

Some cultures always put aside for the rainy day, others are intrepid consumers and others are just dependent on every fix and fashion.

People who are routine savers, more often than not, have learnt the skill in their parent’s homes, or where they grew up. People who find it hard to save, usually didn’t grow up in a home where saving was an ethic. They didn’t see others propelled to put aside, they didn’t hear people around them talk about it.

You see, perhaps the most tricky thing about the culture of not saving is the fact of welfare. We can put it another way, in simple terms: If you want welfare housing, you must never earn a salary above a ceiling limit, you must not own property, or assets, and then you can get stuff for free and cheques from the government, and you really don’t have to work.

But my friends, it’s the biggest trick of all. It is a poverty trap and it traps you and your family, until you wake up and smell the fancy coffee from Star Bucks.

Of course, nothing is wrong with the duty to provide welfare, it is the dependency and it is the cycle that it perpetuates, that is wrong.

Because it then can grow into the culture, and that poses the problem. The challenge for us is to make sure the children who grow up in welfare break the mould, and move out of the “tenement” yards and the “projects” as they say in Jamaica and Chicago.

The worse thing for children who grow up in the “projects” is to be unable to move out it. Even worse is to think they can do nothing about it.

The pop and movie scene are replete with role models: “Jenny From The Block,” just look at the rocks she got! Gloria Estefan, she used to sleep on newspaper sheets when her mother abandoned the national ideology for one in the free world. These stories are well known.

Head of Paediatric Neurology at Johns Hopkins, doctor Ben Carson, was a poor boy, who grew up on the bad side of town. He didn’t think he would live to be a man. He thought he would die in the streets, a victim of violence, just like his uncles and cousins.

But something changed for his family. He broke out of the bitter cycle of poverty. His mother decided he and his brother were going to read books from the public library!

Every week, they borrowed a book and had to write a book report for their mother. She read their reports each week and marked them with a big red tick. The boys never knew that she could hardly read herself.

So you see, you don’t need a lot of discretionary cash to change your circumstances. What you need is a plan, what you need is something to motivate you to take action.

A simple plan may be formulated based on a firm decision planted in your brain that if you grew up in welfare housing, you will not accept that yourself. Then, you devise a strategy to get out of it. Make your children read books, just like Carson’s mother did.

She had made a decision that her children were not going to be poor and dependent all their lives. Make that decision for your children!


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Designed by: Randall Rajkumar-Maharaj · Updated daily by: Sheahan Farrell