When I was driving today I was thinking about the phrase “two-thirds majority world”- I think I must have read an article recently that used that term. Also, at Guelph, development students almost always use “majority world” as opposed to the common “third world.”
So, I was driving, thinking about the phrase “2/3 majority world” – but this time, rather than just letting it be a fleeting thought, I actually did the math. I pretended for a second that 2 out of every 3 people I know lived in poverty. It is sad and strange how the phrase became so much more powerful when I used people that I know in my imaginary illustration. The bizarre thing is that I was driving and if I had pretended that two thirds of the people on the road were a part of the ‘majority world’, 93% of the cars on the road would suddenly disappear because only 7% of the world’s pop’n owns a car. Almost everyone I know owns a car. Most families have 2 and many have 3 cars…
It made me think about how even though two thirds of the world’s people live in conditions that I can’t even begin to understand, I never see it. I feel like this one third of people who live like I do, live in such a bubble- in such ignorance of what the world is actually like. What makes this possible is a complete stratification of poverty- we NEVER see the other two thirds. We live in complete oblivion ( or purposeful ignorance?)- we forget that “our world” is really only a tiny fraction of the bigger picture. I am not saying that there are not seriously poor people here in our midst- because there are-but it’s sad the criteria that I use in order to determine if someone is poor- where and what they live in, where they get their clothing, how many and what type of possessions they have, etc. Especially when a great majority of the world does not even have food security or access to save drinking water.
Imagine a world where the ‘two thirds majority’ world intersected with our ‘rich one third world’ – imagine that you didn’t need to fly across the world to see what that really looks like.. Imagine if suburbia didn’t protect and shield you from the reality of how MOST people in the world live. Imagine if most of your neighbours didn’t have access to basic health care, water or food? Imagine, like I did, that two out of every three people you saw every day lived in sub-human conditions?
I wonder if things would change? I wonder if we would actually do something. Maybe the reason that we (myself fully included) are so apathetic is because we are masters of deception. We have successfully convinced ourselves that we deserve excess- and more than that, that our ‘one third’ world is really all there is. We have convinced ourselves that we need to compete with our neighbours so we are not poor in relation to them. We consume so we don’t get left behind. We consume and compete because we think financial freedom is real freedom- but we are in chains. Chained to the very thing that we think gives us life, freedom, and choices.
I don’t know what make me think about the actual breakdown of rich and poor in the world today- but I am glad that it happened. I don’t want to continue to live in ignorance. I need to remind myself daily of the realities of our world. If I don’t- all that I am left with is the lies that I tell myself- that I am all that matters, that wealth is determined by what I have in relation to those immediately around me.
I need to remember that not that long ago, I met people that lived and worked in a garbage dump- that I could hardly breathe in. There is a lot more to the world than what we can see.