Many years back, when I was in the secondary school, one of the literature books recommended then for us to read in class Three was a book titled ‘A Tale of Two Cities’ (1859), is a novel written by Charles Dickens. This great book has a worldwide readership with well over 200 million copies sold. It ranks among the most famous works in the history of literary fiction.
I want to quote the author of that book’s opening sentence for us to see what informed him to write the book some 155 years ago. The gospel which the book was preaching is still much present with us today, even more pronounced than when it was originally exposed. Since 1859 when he wrote the book nothing significant has changed between the poor and the rich in our society. Even with all the efforts by each successive government to redistribute wealth through taxation and other social interventions or eliminate inequalities in our societies, the two group of people are still living in the same world of contradictions. What then is the matter? Let’s hear what the great writer said.
‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.’
The novel depicts the plight of the French peasantry demoralized by the French aristocracy in the years leading up to the revolution, the corresponding brutality demonstrated by the revolutionaries toward the former aristocrats (aristocrats are people with a particular social order, they are considered in the highest social class of that society. Specifically, in monarchies, the aristocracy is a class of people who either possess hereditary titles granted by a monarch or are related to such people) in the early years of the revolution, and many unflattering social parallels with life in London during the same time period.
The so called aristocrats have metamorphosed into the rich and the wealthy class of today. Aristocracy, plutocracy, oligarchy are forms of government that are quite popular around the world in the past centuries but they are no more in existence today. The only thing is that they still operate underground in most democracies all over the world, mostly as financiers of major political parties. Directly they are not in power, but they control everything behind the scene through their remote control, the MONEY power.
What Charles Dickens tried to do in his book was to bring to the fore the living conditions of two set of people living under different contrasting circumstances. The story has not changed one bit today; some people live in complete affluence, while the majority others are condemned to abject poverty a situation Nigeria’s’ Fela Kuti called ‘suffering and smiling’.
We have seen these scenarios play out in almost every sphere of human endeavor. We have the rich and the poor, successful businesses and struggling enterprises, prosperous nations and distressed economies, good students and bad ones. We know some responsible fathers and the irresponsible ones. Just as we have virtuous woman and contentious wife. These are but a few comparisons that we can quickly come up with for now.
Why the Difference? The Rich walks on the head of the poor.
The question one automatically asks is: why is the situation like this? A situation wherein some people have more than enough and others struggle to make ends meet. I got the answer while reading ‘Think and grow rich” a black choice written by Dennis kimbro and Napoleon Hill.
Pastor Mensah Otabil called it a tale of two paradigms in his book titled ‘Buy the future’. He said “Poor nations are poor because of their productivity values and rich nations are rich because of their productivity values”. That means the peoples productivity in a country determines the prosperity or otherwise of the country and the people.
When we say a nation is poor, Bishop David Oyedepo gave a very simple and wonderful definition when he said “it is a situation where you have more poor people in a country more than the number of rich people”. He went further to say that there is no country in the world that doesn’t have poor people, but when the number of poor people exceeds the number of rich in that society you have a situation that they generalize that that nation is poor. And that is very true in the African’s context. We are called poor continent because we have more poor people than those that are enjoying riches of the land.
George Bernard Shaw said ‘’it is the first duty of every man not to be poor’’. Robert Kiyosaki in his book Rich Dad and Poor Dad, tried to help us see clear reasons why we must not be poor in life.
The next question is how does a nation choked with poverty reverse its course and create wealth? The answer is not far-fetched. The cumulative prosperity of individuals in a country is what sums up to become what the great economist Adam’s smith refers to as the wealth of the nation.
Factors which either make one to be rich or poor are the vision, discipline, work, faith, initiative, resilience, desire, ideas and thought of the people living and working in a particular region. The creation of wealth lies within an individual. This wealth often times comes from doing what others consider insufferably boring.
The Rich walks on the head of the poor.
Nothing brings man so much suffering and humiliation as POVERTY! Only those who have experienced poverty understand the full meaning of this.
Let me now attempt to bring out some of these mindsets that make the difference between the rich and the poor despite the fact that they may be living and eating together from this same pot of waakye on the street of Oxford in Acrra.
We all know that education is good as stated by Malcolm X. He said ‘’Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today’’ My bible also highlighted the importance of knowledge in the books of Proverbs that “’Enthusiasm without knowledge is not good. (Prov.19 v 2 NLT).
The issue then is not in the education but the value placed on the certificate: average people think the road to riches is paved with formal education. Rich people believe in acquiring specific knowledge.
“The masses are convinced that master’s degrees and doctorates are the way to wealth, mostly because they are trapped in the linear line of thought that holds them back from higher levels of consciousness. The wealthy aren’t interested in the means, only the end.” Steve Siebold, author of How Rich People Think clearly.
Research has shown that most people are poor not for want of resources in any part of the globe but majority of our people are poor because of their thought life. . As a man thinks so is he. So say the word of God. If you can change your thinking, you can change your destiny.
Contradictions in thinking: The Rich and The Poor
Let’s look at the following contradictions in the thinking of these two set of people.
Average people think MONEY is the root of all evil. Rich people believe POVERTY is the root of all evil.
Average people have a ‘lucky break’ mentality. Rich people have an action mentality.
Average people never make the connection between money and health. Rich people know money can save your life.
Average people believe they must choose between a great family and being rich. Rich people know you can have it all.
Average people set low expectations so they’re never disappointed. Rich people are up for the challenge.
Average people would rather be entertained than educated. Rich people would rather be educated than entertained.
From the above contradictions in thought life of each of them you can see where the difference is coming from. This is the issue that makes the difference quite significant and much pronounced.
Large number of our people are waiting for that life time opportunity to get out of the rat race with poverty and earnestly praying violently for prosperity thinking they can harass God with prayers, the great ones are solving problems and looking for better ways to do things differently, but not necessarily doing different things.
The middle class or average people are waiting for maybe God, government, their boss or their spouse or a relative somewhere will send him or her some dollars. It’s the average person’s level of thinking that breeds this approach to life and living while the clock keeps ticking away.
Walk into a wealthy person’s home and one of the first things you’ll see is an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful. The middle and lower class reads novels, tabloids, entertainment magazines, sport newspapers and listen to political discussions and will be calling-in on radio programmes.
How to overcome Poverty
No one can become prosperous while he really expects or half expects to remain poor. We tend to get what we expect, and to expect nothing is to get nothing. When every step you take is on the road to failure, how can you hope to arrive at the success goal?
Prosperity begins in the mind and is impossible while the mental attitude is hostile to it. It is fatal to work for one thing and to expect something else, because everything must be created mentally first and is bound to follow its mental pattern.
Most people do not face life in the right way. They neutralize a large part of their effort because their mental attitude does not correspond with their endeavour, so that while working for one thing they are really expecting something else.
They do not approach their work with that assurance of victory which attracts, which forces results, that determination and confidence which knows no defeat. There is no philosophy which will help a man to succeed when he always doubts his ability to do so, and thus attracting failure. The man who would succeed must think success, must think upward. He must think progressively, creatively, constructively, inventively, and, above all, optimistically.
You will go in the direction in which you face. If you look towards poverty, towards lack, you will go that way. If, on the other hand, you turn squarely around and refuse to have anything to do with poverty, to think it, live it, or recognize it, you will then begin to make progress towards the goal of plenty.
If you want to get away from poverty, you must keep your mind in a productive, creative condition. If the people who are down in the world, who are side-tracked, who believe that their opportunity has gone forever so that they can never get on their feet again, only knew the power of reversal of their thought, they could easily get a new start.
I never knew a man to be successful who was always talking about business being bad. The habit of looking down, talking down, is fatal to advancement.
Our Creator, God has bidden every man to look up, not down. He made him to climb, not to grovel. There is no providence which keeps a man in poverty, or in painful or distressing circumstances.
The Creator never put vast multitudes of people on this earth to scramble for a limited supply, as though He were not able to furnish enough for all. There is nothing in this world which men desire and struggle for, and that is good for them, of which there is not enough for everybody. He said in His word that I wish you all prosper and be in good health as your soul prospers. (3 John1:2)
“Take the thing we need most, food. We have not begun to scratch the possibilities of the food supply in our continent not to talk of America. The State of Texas could supply food, home, and luxuries to every man, woman, and child on this continent.
As for clothing, there is material enough in the country to clothe all its inhabitants in purple and fine linen. We have not begun yet to touch the possibilities of our clothing and dress supply. The same is true of all of the other necessities and luxuries. We are still on the outer surface of abundance; a surface covering kingly supplies for every individual on the globe” says William McKinley
When you make up your mind that you are done with poverty forever; that you will have nothing more to do with it; that you are going to erase every trace of it from your dress, your personal appearance, your manner, your talk, your actions, your home; that you are going to show the world your real mettle; that you are no longer going to pass for a failure; that you have set your face persistently toward better things, a competence, an independence and that nothing on earth can turn you from your resolution, you will be amazed to find what a re-enforcing power will come to you, what an increase of confidence, reassurance, and self-respect.
Resolve with all the vigour you can muster that since there are plenty of good things in the world for everybody, you are going to have your share, without injuring anybody else or keeping others back. It was intended that you should have a competence and abundance. It is your birth right and covenant right too to live above poverty and lack.