Even though some people make millions, poverty is still a problem in today’s society. There is an increasing gap between the wealthiest and the poorest people. This is also a problem in Britain. But is poverty really a state of mind? That is the controversial statement made by freelance writer Bernard Hare who in an essay from 2012 writes about his childhood in poverty in a mining family in Leeds. As an adult, he experiences a different kind of poverty. Bernard Hare was born in 1958 into a poor mining family in Leeds, but he never felt the poverty as a child. His explanation for this is that their house was warm, the neighbors were welcoming, and that he spent a lot of time with his grandmother who lived across the street. Because he did not want to end up in poverty like his parents and also after being encouraged by his grandmother, he got into grammar school and later college. He started to get into fights at stadiums because he supported the football club, Leeds United.
He was also arrested on more than one occasion. When Hare got to college, he started to drink and smoke. But he turned it around and became a successful social worker in London until he also had to provide for his father due to mining strikes. After that it all went downhill for Hare. He took drugs, drank, and sold drugs and stolen items. This changed in 1995 when he met the Shed Crew who was a group of 10 to 14 year olds living in an old shed in Hare’s old neighborhood. It put things in perspective and in 1997 he decided to become a writer because he wanted to tell the world the story about the Shed Crew. The final product was a memoir called Urban Grimshaw and the Shed Crew. Hare uses contrasts in this essay to get his point across. First of all, there is the contrast between his childhood life and his adult life and the differences between the two kinds of poverty he has experienced.
Secondly, there is the contrast between the poverty he lived in as a child and the poverty he sees with the Shed Crew. Bernard Hare has lived in poverty for the most of his life, but it has been two kinds of poverty. As a child he lived in absolute poverty where there was not always food at the end of the week. His parents drank and smoked occasionally but according to himself he had a good childhood anyway. He was loved and cared for even though the means were limited. However as a young adult, he went down the wrong path which included drugs, drinking, and criminal behavior. There he experienced a different kind of poverty. In a way, he chose to be poor. As he also says so himself, he was capable of making good money but he chose the criminal way of life. You can take the boy out of poverty, but you can’t take poverty out of the boy. (P 3 ll. 163-164) As previously said, Hare was loved as a child even though they were poor. That is the biggest difference between Hare’s childhood and the Shed Crew’s childhood. The Shed Crew had nobody to care for them, and they had been let down by society.
Nobody is there to take care of them and to make sure that they will get a decent childhood. He uses his own experiences to shed light on how horrible the Shed Crew’s childhood has been. Hare was poor in terms of money but was rich on love and supporting company – mostly from his grandmother. However, the Shed Crew is poor both in terms of money, but they are also lacking love and support from responsible adults. They are lacking both in the spiritual and the materialistic way whereas Hare’s childhood was safe and good. Throughout the entire essay, Hare uses a lot of pathos in this essay while reflecting on his life story. He shares little, happy anecdotes from his childhood which are written in a humorous way, and he tries to create a mental picture of his childhood. As the years go by, the stories get darker and darker.
There is not as much humor in his teenage and adult stories as there is in the childhood stories. This shows that the childish ignorance has disappeared from his mind and that he is now more aware of what is going on around him. Hare also writes that sometimes the decisions you make can effect whether or not you end up in poverty and more importantly how sometimes your choices in life can prevent you from getting out of poverty. For instance, Hare’s grandmother, who was teetotal, said this to him because his parents drank and smoked. “You’ll never have any money if you drink or smoke” (…) I was becoming aware that there might be a self-inflicted element to some people’s poverty. (P 2 ll. 93-94, ll. 98-100)
Is poverty really just a state of mind? The state of mind of the person in question might be a contributing factor to whether or not that person is in poverty. However, to say that it is exclusively the state of mind is an exaggeration. There are a lot of contributing elements to why people are poor and the mindset of the person could be an important factor. In some cases it is and in other cases it’s just a matter of not having enough money to live. At least, it was a question of a state of mind for Bernard Hare.