Poverty is both a state of mind and an economical state. However, it is also a very individual thing, because some poor people just accept their fate and try to make the best of it, while other poor people starts to complain about everything, and starts to point fingers at the government etc. I’m not saying that we should just blindly accept the fact, that there are poor people and do nothing about it, because I’ve met a lot of homeless people myself, and all they ever dream of is getting back to their old life and live their lives like “normal” people. However, on the other hand I’ve met some other homeless, who have no interest in being helped back to a “normal” life. With that being said, I’d like to return to the title of the essay, and say that I would have to agree with Bernard Hare. Because, you can be poor and still feel rich, but on the other hand you can also be poor and feel poor if you don’t find any happiness in your life, whether it’s a hot meal, some spare change, a ton of coal or maybe just a cigarette from a stranger.
As Hare explains in his essay, even though his parents were working minimum wage jobs, they found joy in making their own way through life. I also think that the way he describes the environment of the community he comes from is an important factor when it comes to his childhood. Because in the tightly knitted community, everybody was looking out for everyone or at least that is how Bernard Hare describes it. And when Hare tells us about how he and his friends used to go out and play in the slum clearance zones, then it brings the reader back to the fact that, if you just work with circumstances you’re given and not just complain about them, then you get an easier life, with way fewer worries. Hare also tells us about how his parents used to drink and smoke heavily and maybe if they had given up on both of these things, they would have had a lot more money.
However, if it were the trips to the local pub that made Hares parents feel rich, then maybe it was best just to let them go to the pub, as long as they remembered to feed their kids, and be as loving and caring as they could be. Hare also receives an important life lesson from his Nan, which were that education is the key to a successful life and a good job. And even though Hare thinks that the whole system is a bit strict for a boy of his character, he just hangs in there, and manages to graduate and get into college. However, as times change, Hare starts to realize that life isn’t as it used to be, when he grew up in Leeds. He got involved in the coal miners’ strike in ’72 and’74 with his dad, and as Hare says n later in the essay, “Injustice breeds anger and anger breeds violence.” [Line: 147-148] So that might be the explanation on why Hare becomes a ruthless football hooligan during his mid-teens at age 16. Because if he experienced the injustice, that his father were facing during the strike, and he brings that anger with him as he seeks new friendships, then it’s obvious which direction his teenage years were going to take.
Nevertheless, against all odds Hare still managed to escape from his bad environment, and get a degree and a well-paid job. However, he is still drinking and smoking, just like his parents. And here Hare uses a saying “You can take the boy out of poverty, but you can’t take poverty out of the boy.” [Line: 163-164] Which means something along the lines of; you can’t teach an old dog, new tricks. It’s all a matter of roots and culture, if drinking and smoking is the only social activity you know, then why would you struggle, by trying to fit into a culture you have no knowledge about? Even though life were going in the right direction for Hare, he still tells us that he plunged right back into poverty, because as his childhood memories were falling apart due to the fact, that Margaret Thatcher were holding the coal miners in a firm grip during the coal miners’ strike in 1985. The social injustice towards the miners, plus the fact that Hare’s mother died, may have sent him back to the mind-set he was in, during his hooligan days.
Nevertheless, these chains of events made him quit his job and go back on the unrighteous path. He started to live a life in the criminal lane, and this brings me back to the “injustice leads to violence” comment Hare mentioned earlier. Because with the amount of injustice he had experienced it’s only natural for a man with his mind-set to hit rock-bottom. And as he says in the text, it is only a natural way for him to react in the way that he does. “Why kill time, when you can kill yourself?”[Line: 222-223] However, luckily Hare gets a revelation in 1995, when he hears about a gang of kids who’s living in the same area where he grew up; they just have a totally different childhood from his. Hare’s idea of a childhood in poverty, didn’t include glue sniffing, excessive youth alcohol consumption or drugs. And that became the turning point for Bernard Hare, because he wanted to tell the story about the lost kids to the public.
So he went back to his old life, and wrote the book about the kids. The great morale of the story is that you’ve got to work with what you got, because no one is going to swing by someday and drag you out of your poor existence. The fact that Bernard Hare has lived a life in poverty makes him trustworthy as a narrator. Because if this essay were wrote by a snob who were born with a golden spoon up his ass, then it would be hard to believe when we are told about the struggle of having a childhood in poverty. But since Bernard Hare’s experience and knowledge on the poor lifestyle is real, then it’s just really easy to sympathize with him. In the same way the black youth in the ghettos of America can relate to a rapper when he tells about the struggle of living in the ghetto, then a lot of people who were born and raised in working class families, can relate to what Bernard Hare is talking about in his essay.