Sunday, June 30, 2013

Day 392: Who will Fight for My Happiness?

Welcome to the controversial zoo where gorillas, tigers and penguins are held in cages and forced to perform tricks on top of a department store.

The animals occupy the upper two floors of the Pata store in the bustling Bang Phlat area of Bangkok, Thailand.

An estimated 200 animals are kept here, with regular shows taking place in which monkeys are trained to fire-juggle, perform in drag and take part in mock fights with keepers.

But on the floors beneath, shoppers snap up cheap T-shirts, watches and shoes.

The private zoo charges foreigners 200 baht, around £4.20, to enter, but it is believed mainly locals frequent the attraction.

British photographer Bronek Kaminski, who spent 18 months secretly documenting the animals, said within 200 steps visitors can catch a glimpse of up to 50 exotic animals.

His images show a solitary penguin waddling next to a small pool of water with air-conditioning units attempting to keep the enclosure cool in the scorching Thai heat.

Meanwhile King Kong, the resident gorilla, is seen silently grasping the iron bars of his cage. - Mail Online

Who defends the rights and happiness of these, and so many more, animals? There is so much we have done in the name of survival and profit - and in order to do it we have had to switch off our empathy to the plight of those we have exploited, which turns out to be pretty much everything on the planet, living or otherwise. Everything we have touched, explored, discovered, tweaked, experimented on - we have tainted. We warp and twist everything around us to suit our needs, regardless of the consequences.

So, we commit genocide on a daily basis. We perform mass evictions on a daily basis. We neglect and abuse millions on a daily basis. If we do not stand for the rights and happiness of those who are unable to speak, then who will? If we do not undertake to care for and sustain life with consideration and foresight, then who will? Animals cannot fight us. They cannot tell us that what we are doing causes them pain. They cannot tell us that what we are doing is evil. They cannot tell us that they would never do to another single being what we do on a daily basis to BILLIONS.

So who will stand for those who are caged simply for being who they are? How will we reach a point where we can institute a democratic action that actually considers other beings? How will we reach a point where we can look outside our lives, outside our personal dramas, to see that this life is not one that we have honoured - for that would require that we actually honour life?

Who will cry for those who have never known joy? Will we be able to spare a few moments of attention in our day to consider the lives of others? We are so consumed by our make up, hair, clothes, accessories, skin care, entertainment, love, sex, lust, white picket fence, reputation - but what do these things matter to a being who lives in a space the size of a bath tub? We live like these parts of life are the be all and end all, but in truth they are distractions. If we can keep ourselves worried about the trivial things, then we won't have to do anything about the things that actually matter. Maybe you disagree - but if this wasn't the case then we would not be in this situation in the first place.

How many people actually teach their children to respect animals, or nature? A very small minority. Children, in general, treat animals appallingly - because their parents do not know or care to teach them differently. I fear that when the current generation of youths become the ruling class, there will be no safe place for animals from the cruelty of man.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Day 391: Interplanetary Purchasing

PayPal said Thursday it will launch inter-planetary payments -- yes, a system for buying things in space.

It sounds like a PR stunt, but PayPal is dead serious about getting into the burgeoning field of space tourism. With companies like Virgin Galactic and Space X bringing the go-to-Mars dream much closer to reality, PayPal said its goal is simply to start thinking about the complicated issues concerning space commerce. - CNN

Of all the things this world needs, an interplanetary payment system is pretty much at the bottom of the (very long) list.

There is no denying that the human race is a curious one, nor can one claim that our innate curiosity is "bad" or "good" - but what is certain is that until we create a global equality of living standards (at the very least), our curiosity is best suited to improving said living standards.

We have a long way to go before we should let our curiosity loose on the stars.

Our society is spiraling into a cataclysmic event that will surely bring about the destruction of Earth. We are a society that wants instant gratification, without regard or an understanding of the processes involved with creating products. We go to McDonald's and order a Big Mac Meal - all we see and care about is the burger, chips and drink - we do not consider the battery farms producing the meat, the mechanisation of factories that makes thousands upon thousands of people essentially obsolete in their jobs, we do not consider that for the tiny price we pay we are fueling a system that does not value the one thing we have in abundance and that we all rely on in one way or another: human labour.

We do not know how to safely dispose of the mountains of waste we produce daily. We do not know what the consequences are of stripping nature of trees, animals, rivers, swamps, aquifers, mountain sides - or anything for that matter. We do not know how to safely dispose of all of our toxic scientific experiments, like nuclear waste. We do not know how long the resources we mine from the Earth will support our consumer culture. We do not know what we will do when we run out of resources. We do not know what the long term effects of pollutants are on us, our children, or on nature.

We are essentially crashing through this life blindfolded, crushing and smashing everything in our way because we must get what we want now. We cannot even maintain a healthcare system that effectively maintains our health - everything is focused on suppressing symptoms and extending lives so that the drug manufacturers can make more money. May we were not even aware that this was how we designed our system, but you can go and ask any successful business or financial trader: What are humans to them: equals or potential profit? and you will hear for yourself what it takes for this twisted system of ours to function, broken as it is.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Day 390: You are Mine, Under heel

(CNN) -- U.S. ambassador to China Gary Locke is nearing the end of a three-day visit to the Tibet Autonomous Region where he has been meeting with local officials to impress the importance of preserving Tibetan culture, according to the U.S. embassy.
Locke, who took the trip with his family, several embassy officials and Chengdu's consulate general, also stressed the need to open up access to Tibet to foreign diplomats, tourists and journalists, the embassy said in a statement.
There has been no mention of the trip in Chinese media, which follows Locke's visit last September to Tibetan monasteries in western China, where a number of Tibetan monks have set themselves on fire.
Since 2006, 119 monks have self-immolated in protest against Chinese policies they say violate their basic rights, according to Human Rights Watch.
More claims of repression of Tibetan rights came Thursday with a report from HRW, which condemned China's mass relocation of millions of Tibetans to what it called "New Socialist Villages."
The report, entitled "They Say We Should Be Grateful," accused the Chinese government of committing "extensive rights violations" of Tibetans by forcing residents in a number of counties to abandon their houses and move to new purpose-built housing estates.
The HRW report included aerial images of Tibetan counties, which showed photos of villages before and after new homes were built. HRW has accused the Chinese government of failing to adequately compensate villagers whose homes have been demolished, and of not restoring residents' livelihoods.
"The scale and speed at which the Tibetan rural population is being remodeled by mass rehousing and relocation policies are unprecedented in the post-Mao era," said HRW's China director, Sophie Richardson.
"Tibetans have no say in the design of policies that are radically altering their way of life, and -- in an already highly repressive context -- no ways to challenge them," she added in a statement.
When asked to comment on the report, Hua Chunying, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson said: "The organization you just mentioned has been consistently making irresponsible remarks and groundless accusations against China. I'll not spend time to read the report or comment on it."
According to the report, since 2006 more than two million Tibetans have been "rehoused" -- through government-ordered renovation or construction of new houses -- in the Tibet Autonomous Region, while hundreds of thousands of nomadic herders in the eastern part of the Tibetan plateau have been relocated.
The massive rehousing project is part of China's policy to "Build a New Socialist Countryside" in Tibetan areas, which was announced by former premier Wen Jiabao in 2006. At the time, the government pledged to increase spending in rural areas and committed billions of dollars to raise the living standards in the countryside.

Tibet has long been in the spotlight for human rights violations, along with China being accused of repressing Tibetans. I find it interesting that no one has been able to confirm or deny these claims with irrefutable evidence - not that that is a new thing in this world. Science, especially, loves contradictions and conflicting studies.

So why the hell are we incapable of simply seeing something for what it is, so that appropriate action can be taken? Why is politicking more important than human rights? Why is war, force and violence seen as acceptable "solutions"? Why do we allow abuse and violations of other people in the name of politics? How can we justify this as "keeping the peace?". Look at how much repression is happening in the world - and not just in the infamous countries such as China, North Korea and Russia - poverty is repression, the removal and denial of rights because of someone's status. Why do we not see this for what it is: unacceptable - instead of justifying and twisting it to appear to be something acceptable within our minds?

Nothing good ever comes from forcing people to be or live a certain way - the only way to bring about a true harmony of human actions and words is to present a solution that is undeniable, irrefutable and applicable to everyone. If everyone has one point to agree on, then we have a democracy. The tricky part is to present information in such a way that there is no denying it - for example, that every person has basic human rights that MUST be guaranteed. You may not believe it, but most people do not feel that basic rights should, or can be, guaranteed. If we all were of the opinion that basic rights must be given unconditionally to every person then you can bet your last cent that that would be a reality. Currently we believe that basic rights cannot be given to all, for whatever reason, and that is the case for it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because we believe that is can not (or should not) be done, we do not act to make it a reality - the mentality is such that it would be like me trying to breathe underwater.

There is always some obstacle that is apparently in the way of accomplishing or achieving basic rights for everyone. Lack of funding is popular, so is blaming and justifying human nature (that is the way they are, they will never change). We are a clever bunch - if we really wanted to, we could figure something out. Look at all the fantastical things we come up with to make life entertaining, or convenient, especially when we can make buttloads of money.

The motto of this is that waiting for the world to change is stupid - it will not - the only change that may happen on its own is that life devolves into an even more unpleasant experience for more people. If we want a better world we are going to have to step up and make it happen - and democracy is the only way to ensure lasting effects that can not be challenged.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Day 389: Unemployed, Pill-Popping, Boozing Wastes of Space

It is a community with mass unemployment, high alcohol use – and a frightening reliance on ‘happy pills’.

In the South Wales borough of Blaenau Gwent, as many as one in six are taking antidepressants, it was claimed yesterday.

Campaigners said it highlighted the ‘disturbing’ issue of how high amounts of antidepressants are being handed out in deprived areas across Britain.

In Blaenau Gwent, the NHS issues almost 10,000 prescriptions for the drugs each month – in an area with an adult population of 60,000.

‘Unfortunately depression is closely associated with deprivation and unemployment. This is very disturbing and clearly something which needs to be addressed.’

Wales has the highest rate of antidepressant use in the UK.

The number of prescriptions per head rose by nearly 8 per cent last year, with a similar increase in England and Scotland. - Mail Online

The average family size in westernized countries/societies is between 4 and 6 - it is safe to say that most people are close to, or at least are acquainted with, at least 5 people. Now imagine that out of every 5 people you know and yourself, one of you relies on some form of chemical fix just to be able to cope with the complete shithole that is your life. That is a lot of people.

There are 2 aspects of this situation that require our attention: the first and most obvious is that poverty and hardships are often the cause for people turning to drink and drugs (and for some, because of that, abusive actions). No one wants to live like that, no matter the reason, so why do we allow so many to live in these conditions? Contrary to what the majority of us believe, it is possible to improve life for everyone - we are a clever lot and have and can still accomplish much.
The second consideration that is not quite so obvious is that our approach toward dealing with issues, like mental "abnormalities" (psychological disorders), seldom involves an intent to actually understand and solve the problem. In psychology, we use emotions, thoughts and feelings to try to get a handle on disorders, without actually understanding the causes and effects of these thoughts, feelings and emotions. What psychology has failed to see is that thoughts, feelings and emotions are the cause of these disorders and that so many areas of our society exploits this in order to influence the way we actually live in the world.

Take, for instance, a fairy tale like Cinderella: The fairytale teaches children to want to feel special, to want to be unique - it creates a drive within children to want to feel a certain way about themselves - but the reality they end up facing contradicts this desired self definition, and the child ends up not being able to be what they wanted to be, with no tools to deal with this. This, as well as the idea that love is the greatest attainment in life, that there is this magical feeling that sweeps us off of our feet - which is just an energetic rush that never lasts - so that we will know we have found "the one". Unfortunately the fairytales give no practical advice to actually sustain a relationship, so when the child grows up they are searching for this energetic rush that inevitably fades away, and when it does they will end the relationship and search again for the feeling.

We actually teach our children to spend their lives chasing after fantasies that can never come true. We do not give our children tools to actually deal with reality, such as how to build maintain supportive relationships based on trust, communication and support (as opposed to looking for energetic rushes). We teach our children that appearance is important and is an indicator of "who we are". We teach our children to be bound forever in the back-and-forth of "good" and "evil" - along with the belief that we have no choice in the matter, that we are not responsible for who we are, our thoughts and actions.

Can we really blame our children for turning into monsters, into self-absorbed demons looking for the next feel good fix? They are, after all, simply applying what we taught them.

How does psychology not see this? And if some few have noticed this, why do they not act to investigate and change it? We humans are really not so complex - we are simply products of our environments. It seems a little odd that psychology still doesn't understand human nature and the mind...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Day 388: When all you can say is WTF

A shocking video has emerged of a circus worker dancing on the back of a dying elephant while it bathes in a river.
The film shows Madi - a 48-year-old Indian elephant - slowly drowning as the circus owner's brother jumps around on her in a pair of swimming shorts as she sinks under the surface.
Horrified witnesses made the 40 minute video when Madi - from Germany's Universal Circus Renz - was taken to a river to bath during a tour of Estonia.
As Madi - clearly frail and in distressed - stumbles onto her side into the water, the zoo owner's brother Rene Renz leaps onto her back and begins clowning around for spectators.
Even when the stricken animal sinks dying under the surface of the water in Narva, Renz leaps from its back in a comic dive for more laughs.
Madi had been on an extended tour of Estonia as a special attraction at Rene Renz's travelling show.- Mail Online


I have no words.

What brings someone to such cruelty, such thoughtless action?

It is unfathomable. I cannot comprehend it. I can only conclude that this level of cruelty is borne out of a deep and severe madness. There is no other explanation. Whomsoever commits such an act must be insane.

The worst is that animal cruelty especially is exceedingly common. Walk into the homes of ten families and it would not be far off to estimate that 8 out of 10 are abusing or neglecting their animals in some way. People don't know how to consider animals, people don't know how to look after animals in the way that is best for the animal - only in the way that is most convenient for the people.

How many animals suffer terrible conditions simply because their "caretakers" do know know, and do not care to learn, how to take care of the animal properly. From the tiny fraction of animals on Earth that I have met, almost all of them experienced abuse or neglect simply because their "owners" did what was most convenient for themselves instead of what was best for the animal.

Have you ever lived with flea infestations, or skin conditions like mange? These are common ailments that should not be common - they are easily prevented and treated. Any owner who pleads ignorance and is not willing to educate themselves should be banned from keeping animals.

How advanced and enlightened we are. Really? Our true nature is revealed in our worst actions, in the way we treat those we consider to be inferior to ourselves.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Day 387: Oh Great Economy, In Thee We Trust

The Federal Reserve chairman clearly spooked the market this week. Simply hinting that the Fed might wind down its stimulus program later this year was enough to lead to another week of losses.
The three major U.S. stock market indexes ended the week down between 1.8% and 2.1%. - CNN

We have placed our trust in our society, in our economy, in our government - but did we do our due diligence? Did we investigate fully the institutions we have invested our faith and futures in? Did we ensure that we understood the workings of each institution we placed the well being of our very lives in?

And now, how do we live - we defend and fight for these institutions, because we trust these institutions, but we fail to recognise the harm that comes from our blind faith. We fail to recognise that there are direct and tangible consequences such as poverty, crime, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, violence, inequality, segregation, war... We fail to recognise because we stubbornly believe that these ills are a part of life and cannot be changed. We believe that poverty is a natural occurrence and that we cannot do anything to stop it. Furthermore, no one believes that it is their responsibility to institute any changes, or no one believes that there is a possible solution. We will easily demand and welcome changes made to our lives and lifestyles that make our lives more comfortable and convenient, but we are hesitant to investigate any course of action that requires us to give up what little we may have, even if the solution would entail a better life, if not just for ourselves but for everyone and everything.

Why do we continue to have such faith in our economy and societal systems if they do not truly serve the purpose they were created to serve? We fear change - we cannot bring ourselves to consider and investigate alternatives, never mind recognise that there is a problem in the first place. We have now reached a point in our way of thinking wherein as long as we are safe and surviving, we should not challenge anything for fear of losing what little we have. Consider also the mass production of propaganda campaigns where governments and the media will tell the people only what they want the people to hear and then block out all other sources of information - especially those that may contradict what the government and media is saying. Consider movies, story books and TV shows that teach our children that the only things that matter in life are finding love and being happy, and that nothing else matters and no cost is too high. Consider the education system: each child learning the same things, being forced to do and repeat what they are told without question, without developing critical reasoning.

This is what makes the internet so useful: we now have a platform from which to educate ourselves about what is really happening in the world, how things really work. We do not need to be at the mercy of sources of information that are controlled by a few powerful figures. We now each hold the responsibility to teach ourselves how to develop our critical reasoning skills and skill of investigation and research, so that we may actually find out how the system works in order to develop and implement practical solutions.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Day 386: Deal with those Street Children

"Roleplayers in the Pietermaritzburg Urban Renewal Programme (Purp) hope to rid the CBD of street children.
"To have street children  in our city centre is in contrast with our Purp, which is aiming at cleaning and beautifying the city.
"We need to have a permanent task team that will focus on dealing with the issue of bylaw enforcement in the city." - The Witness, 20 June 2013

The words spoken by the spokesperson quoted in this article were chosen deliberately to show exactly what is though of those children living on the streets by the local authorities and organisations. When did helpless, hopeless and orphan children become a blight on beauty instead of a sign that our society is what some people call evil?

When did it happen that someone who sees a child begging in the streets sees not a child, but a nuisance that must be "dealt with"? When did street children change from victims of society's evils into predators and destroyers of our precious "beautifying"? Why do we automatically assume that these children actually have a choice, or that this is the life they wanted for themselves? Would we want our own children to live on the streets? If our children did live on the streets, would we see them as a blight or as a tragedy?

These children were born into a life that was determined to give them absolutely nothing from their first moment alive. Most of them are addicted to drugs because they simply cannot, will not and don't want to face the hopeless future that awaits them. If they have parents at all, they are most likely drunkards, neglectful and abusive. For many of them, the street is the only home they have, or the "better" choice from a limited set of bad options.

How can we allow so many children to go on living in these conditions? How can we allow even one child to live in these conditions? What reason do we really have for not providing a truly supportive solution that would be best for the children? Money - really? That doesn't seem plausible, as there is enough money to "beautify" our cities, how is there not enough to educate parents and provide homes for children? Obviously the initial problem that must be addressed is the parents. Parents must be educated properly on how to care for and educate their children. The nature of parents must also be changed: alcohol should be banned, the way that people are valued must change, and everyone must have the resources to live comfortably without having to fight for survival. Change these things and the nature of man will follow.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Day 385: For God and Country

Patriotism was created to ensure that change will never take place. Consider those who are generally patriotic: soldiers. What happens when citizens become restless about their country's ruling regime? Before they decide to take action they must first consider going up against the military. The real question here is: why do the soldiers not participate in the restlessness with the citizens? There are only 2 explanations: either the grievances of the citizens are not really valid/justified, or the soldiers are not acting in the best interests of the people of the country as a whole, and only in the best interests of whoever is their superior officer - in the name of patriotism.

When a country is up in arms, why is there still a military to keep the people in line? Is the purpose of the military to do what is best for the people, or to be thugs for a few in power?

Why do military's exist? To protect and serve. Who decides how best the military can be used in order to protect and serve? A handful of people.

We often hear how soldiers will do things that they may not actually agree with, just because someone told them to. Some may rationalise how this absolves them of any responsibility, others may be consumed by guilt. The reality is that most soldiers who see action regret it - they want to be able to go back in time and undo the horrors they saw or committed. Why then, is the military such an appealing place for so many young adults?

Some do it because they have few alternative choices - limited education and/or skills makes the military one of the more appealing choices in terms of earning an income. Some do it out o a sense of patriotism, they want to protect and serve. What I have seen within humanity is that the most zealous followers of some idea are often the most cruel and discriminating against those who are not a part of their group - patriotism included. So, are those who join the military because of patriotism maybe doing it so that they can be part of a group that accepts and encourages their ideals and beliefs? Because, looking at the function and history of military's across the world in general, they have brought nothing but suffering.

War is an interesting and unique concept created by humans. In the end, it doesn't really mean anything - but to those who experience it's effects, its presence is overbearing. Why do we participate in war if its consequences are so overwhelmingly negative? What good could ever come from war or weapons? Why do we continue to justify it? Why do we allow thousands, upon thousands of young and impressionable adults to take part in the madness, without fully comprehending the nature of war?

It is easy to say that people cannot change, that war will always be a part of our cultures - it is not so easy to stand up and say "I will not accept this abuse of life any more, there is a solution and I will dedicate myself to finding and then implementing it."

Monday, June 17, 2013

Day 384: The Pass Rate for Public Universities in RSA is 15%

Johannesburg - The graduation rate among undergraduate students in South Africa’s 23 public universities is 15 percent.
The rate for Master’s students is 20 percent and for doctoral students 12 percent.
These figures are contained in the Department of Higher Education and Training’s first annual statistical report, published this year, which looked at the “size and shape of post-school education and training in South Africa”.
Nicolene Murdoch, the executive director for teaching and quality at Monash South Africa, said the graduation rates have ranged from 15 percent to 20 percent for several years now.
She said the reasons for these low rates include financial constraints – where students enroll for courses but don’t have funding to see them through – lack of academic preparedness and students not getting enough support from their universities.
Murdoch, who is also the president of the South African Association for Institutional Research (SAAIR), said the highest failure rates were in the maths and science programmes which covered medicine, science, technology and business studies. She said students tended to struggle with “anything with a maths component”.
Students who hopped from one course to another also contributed to low graduation rates because they moved to new courses without finishing the ones they had started.
She said students who weren’t well informed on the different career opportunities and those who didn’t fully appreciate what studying towards their chosen field entailed, also lead to low output rates as they struggle with learning areas they’re not suited or skilled for. 
Murdoch said things such as student accommodation and adjusting to university life were some of the non-academic factors that had a huge impact on students’ academic achievements.
A review report on student accommodation at the county’s 23 universities published in February 2012 found that only 5.3 percent of first year students, those arguably in the greatest need of accommodation, were in university residences. Of the total number of contact students across all the universities, only 20 percent were accommodated at university residences.
The report also found that hunger was a major problem among students, with some going for days without having had a meal. - iOL

In the South African national budget, about 20% of the total budget is allocated to education. The government has been trying to emphasise how well matric students are doing in their final years of high school, lauding themselves for getting the pass rate up to 75.6% - but what they don't tell you is that the pass mark (lowest possible mark a student must receive in order to "pass")  is as low as 30%. See here.

So we know that throwing money at education is not enough to actually create an educational system that is beneficial to students. Teachers have no idea how to teach, so kids end up wasting away their youths sitting in rooms.

Some blame the curriculum. Some blame the government. Some blame the teachers. Some blame apartheid. The reality is that in any school, whether it is successful or not, there are a few "bright" students who do very well, and the majority of the students are either average or below average. Looking at the education system in this light shows us that the problem is not just one thing, and not limited to those underprivileged schools and students.

The status of our schools should tell us that the way we are teaching children is simply not effective if only a few excel. It is highly unlikely that there is only one area that could be named the culprit, but there surely is only one party responsible: humanity. We are each responsible for the world we create and the society we create - we are the ones who created and now maintain an inferior education system. We are the ones who made the choice to accept the system without question. We are the ones who send our children to school knowing that its purpose and effectiveness has long since faded from memory. The educational system is now merely a shadow of what is should be, but we refuse to acknowledge that it is a part of the larger problem of our society.

We attribute importance and value to uniformity, so we design our schools so that the children will become all alike, copies of their parents and copies of each other. Schools have just become production lines, churning out more of the same: undisciplined, uncaring, inconsiderate, illiterate and irresponsible people who have no issue with the way the world is.

Schools should teach us how the world works, how everything that forms a part of our lives functions. We should be shown how to grow food. We should be shown how to be the directors of our own minds and bodies. We should be shown how to build and fix household items. We should be shown how the economic system works. We should be shown where our food comes from that we buy in stores. We should be shown to use our critical reasoning. We should be shown how to ask questions and think for ourselves, really. We should be shown how to stop ourselves from becoming possessed and obsessed with thoughts and ideas. These are some of the practical things that affect all of us which should be understood by all of us. Instead we are taught things that, most of which, will be forgotten within one month of writing exams.

We choose our education. We choose to remain ignorant. We can also choose a new way that will prepare our children to make a better life for everyone.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Day 383: Do They Really Have Any Other Choice?

I've been watching OZ again and a recurring theme, or idea, is that the people who end up in prison, the people who are "repeating offenders" seldom feel like they have any other choice in their lives. In a way this is true, if you are born into a home that gives you no nurturance, support, or basic understanding of how the world works and how to set and attain goals - well then chances are you're not going to get far. If you grow up in a neighbourhood and family that is impoverished to the degree that you cannot choose the quality of healthcare, education, transport, housing, food, or anything else you receive - chances are you're going to do whatever you feel you must, given your available resources and understanding of the world, in order to survive and maybe, just maybe have a life that is semi-comfortable.

Below is an extract from OZ season 1 episode 7 by the character "Poet":

Kidnap The President's Wife (from Episode 7)

Kidnap The President's Wife Without A Plan
Kidnap The President's Wife Without A Plan
Yeah, I got a plan
It's etched with a knife in the center of my hand
So I guess I'm gonna have to keep my fist clenched
Walk around D.C. in the rain till my wares is drenched
Wait for that mothafucka to take out the garbage and do a press conference about what great shape this country's in and when them welfare cuts is gonna begin
And when he pat his dog and kiss his wife goodbye, that's when I move in
I throw that silly hoe in a headlock
I muffle her grill so her screams stop
I whisper to her,"Your man ain't here to protect you, baby. He gone."
I dial up my nigga Old North
Tell him,"Meet me with the caddy on the white lawn."
I tossed her in the backseat
I covered her head with a black sheet
Put the steel to her grill piece
Be like,"If you don't shut up, I'm gonna let two shots in your dome piece."
Watch her have fits
If she don't understand, I'm gonna give the quick lesson in ebonics
"I'm gonna shoot you, baby."
I take her to my hideout in the low income houses down the street
I replace her Jones & Davids with Purple Reeboks on her feet
I give her four hungry kids, no job, no ambition, no family support, and a last welfare check
I give her crappy-ass Medicade and an ill type of growth growing out the side of her neck
I tell her,"Fend for yourself, keep you and them shorties in proper health."
And after sufficient time on that hype
I introduce her to the crackpipe
I let her feel its soothing effects as she tries to forget about the absence of them checks
I make her sell her jewels for it
I make her pay her dues for it
And then I'll come to her late at night
And I'll be like, "Yo, everything ain't gonna be alright, you ain't gonna be able to go quietly in that good night. Peace ain't come till your death be done."
And then I'll lead her up to the roof
And I'll show her all the shit she don't own
I lead her over to the edge
And leave her there all alone.

So, is there a choice for those who are born into poverty? Yes, some few "make it out" and go on to be "successful" - but a very small minority. Those who are left behind will do what they must to survive, which is generally involving drugs and/or low paying and/or dangerous/crap jobs that no one else wants to do.

Ask any person if they would want that kind of life for themselves, or for their child - their answer will be NO.

The problem is that most people - including those actually living in poverty - believe that it is  simply a fact of life, this state of being that peels away at the very essence of someone. Obviously if everyone believes that nothing can be done then nothing will be done - it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. So those who are born into poverty will do what they feel is expected of them, for it is all they expect from themselves. They are born into a society that tells them over and over, in every aspect of their lives, that they are not worthy of dignity, not worthy of an education, not worthy of healthcare, not worthy of proper housing, and that they should just stay where they are and kill each other over drugs.

Did you grow up with your parents telling you how special you are? Did you grow up with your school pushing you to be the best you could be? If so then you are part of the lucky few. Imagine growing up with your parents telling you that you are worthless. Imagine growing up with the education system resenting you. Imagine growing up with the public service sector resenting you. Imagine yourself as a 4 year old, and everything you see is a testament of your value to society: nothing. Do you really think that your willpower would be strong enough, after a lifetime of degradation, to pick yourself up out of the ghetto of your life?