*Ok, here is the bottom line: can we boost economies in developing countries without distorting or destroying the good things about those cultures? Is that even the right goal? Are we really to be about economy boosting or people loving?
Or neither? Do we do people in developing countries the greatest good by staying out of their way (and keeping other people out too)? Do they just need time to figure it out? Or are the needs in such places so desperate they demand action from us?
Clearly that seems to be the case. In such rabid instability the conditions are created not only for extreme poverty but for violent crime that soon leaks out beyond the borders. If we do nothing, we pay the price so to speak.
But do what? Where there are over-crowding, limited natural resources, and little to no local economies people are left with very few options. Being very poor is normal, but can be sustainable, and is not in all cases the worse existence.
Better to be poor and maintain cultural identity than to have too many options and risk being lured away into other traditions? OR is cultural compromise a necessary condition of globalism? IF we are to take the opportunities afforded, is there a necessary price to pay?
It seems that is the case. The price is the inevitable pull toward materialistic life. Things become more important than people. Comfort takes on all new precedence. People get economic mobility but tossed in with it are some inherent vices.
So is it worth it? Starvation and extreme poverty on one hand or compromised traditional culture with a few scattered bottom of the global barrel jobs on the other. How does one know? How do honest business men in Cambodia know?
The bleakness of the picture or the frailness of the system serve to remind us, if nothing else, that there are other forces involved. The world is not merely or only economic. There are other values to consider, there may even be other worlds to consider.
That otherworldliness thing is probably the expertise of poverty. Those in its grips are almost always gifted with a healthy "far way" detachment from daily life. And, to be honest, for us caught in the throes of first-world navigation, that can be a welcomed reprise.
For most of the world's poor [not speaking here about extreme poverty] there is a remarkable sense of contentment. Certainly this could be seen as weakness, a result of ignorance, but sentimentally there seems to be an envied simplicity that goes beyond this world.
Contentment is not something to be "educated" out of the poor, perhaps it is a gift to the world. Perhaps the poor offer those of us with material resources retreat from that awful first-world poverty Mother Theresa noted (loneliness). Perhaps we need the poor.
Even more than we need them. At the risk of sounding exploitive, we must note the willingness of almost all great spiritual leaders to be poor. There are some freedoms we find only there in poverty, some inner resources the whole world could use.