We Own the Poor a Revolution that Begins the Moment We Have Come Alive

‘You said that we should follow our passion. But what if we cannot provide for ourselves or our family?’ a girl on the front row stood up, and spoke timidly in the microphone.

This question caught the attention of everyone else in the audience. of 350 university students and fresh graduates – either overwhelmed by the career choices they need to make, or disillusioned with their first job. They all came to this event with a question ‘where do I begin?’. I’d told them to begin exactly where they were standing, actually from the deepest part of it, from something exists within themselves: their passion and curiosity. I’d urged them to do whatever they feel passionate or genuinely curious about. This question emerged as expected, and I was glad she brought it up.

We need to understand this question, especially when we are young. The moment we can answer it with unwavering conviction is the moment we claim true freedom to pursue our dreams.

Have you ever asked yourself this question?

I have. I’ve found my answer. I shared my answer with that girl, and every young person sitting in that audience.

‘Now you are young, unmarried, you have yet no family to provide. Because you are siting here, I’m guessing that your family isn’t in extreme poverty. Maybe your parents aren’t too well-off, maybe they can’t afford a nicer rent for you now. But I reckon you are not someone who has to lay bricks during the day and salvage garbage bins at night to feed his 5 little siblings, and buy medicine for his father who cannot work because he has cancer’


My dear reader, have you seen poverty? The cosmopolitan life had blinded me to the poverty of people in my own country until I saw real poverty the first time I went abroad – to Kenya. I will never forget the skin-and-bone African woman with her naked breasts, holding a small child in her arms. She stood next to a grand mansion, and in front of a vast desert field.

And have you wondered why poverty exist at all? I don’t know a correct  or philosophical answer to that question. But I have my suspicion. Poverty exists because there are millions who choose to abandon their own dreams, who don’t have the courage to do what they love because they fear the judgment of others or because they want to acquire money, power, and fame. With that choice, they slowly turn their life and the lives of people around to nightmares. Unhappy people can never make others happy.


Look at your parents, or friends, or lover, maybe they say they love you, maybe they do love you, but do they make you truly, truly happy? Not the superficial short-lived “happiness” when they buy you a new pair of shoes. But the unbounded, unwavering, long lasting, peaceful happiness. But most of people doesn’t grasp that in order to bring happiness, they need to be happiness. Unhappiness breeds bad decisions, out of bad intention or ignorance. The accumulation of bad decisions leads to a troubled world. It’s inevitable.

But if young people, every young people, sees this pattern and dares to break it, we will change the world.

Passion leads to hard-work. Hard-work leads to quality. Quality leads to values. Values will help you to earn a livelihood. You may or may not become rich, but richness is for what if you don’t have joy? If you look beyond the outward luxury of most rich, famous, powerful people; you will see the bleakness of their heart, and smell the rottenness of their soul. 


Doing what one loves is not just brave, it’s revolutionary.

‘However the poor can’t pursue their dreams. But you can. Now if you don’t do it, who else will?’

What kind of world are we living in that there are people so poor they don’t even dare to dream about doing what they love? Isn’t “the pursuit of happiness” a basic human right? 

We have to look straight at the life of the poor, not to grow inside us a fear of poverty, but to grow the courage to change this world.

‘Don’t ask what the world needs,’ said Howard Thurman. ‘Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.’

We own it to the poor. We own them a better world in which their children and grandchildren can pursue happiness. We own them a revolution that begins the moment we have come alive.

Read more about defying acquisitiveness in Minimalist Monday.

Come back next Monday for more wisdom on the art of simple living.