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Poverty is a State of Mind Essay

The mighty Great Britain is not what it used to be. Its glory days are long gone and the financial recession of 2008 struck Britain bad. There’s a gap between the wealthy and the poor, like there’s always been. And it has grown greatly over the years. It is especially visible in the division of the northern and southern parts of England. The southern parts of England have London as its centre, and are doing more than well, but the northern parts of England are suffering. They are unable to sustain themselves. Their employment has risen, and people are facing tougher and bigger challenges. But perhaps those challenges are not only a material challenge, but also an emotional challenge, as Bernard Hare argues in his radio essay “Poverty is a State of Mind” from the BBC network, 2012. But is his argument correct, when he says that poverty is mostly in your mind? In this essay I am going to analyse the radio essay ” Poverty is a State of Mind” by Bernard Hare. Part of my essay will focus on Hare’s use of his own experience, the way he uses contrasts and his use of pathos, logos and ethos. Bernard Hare is a social worker and writer. He was born in the town of Leeds in North England in 1958. He was the son of a coal miner and a shop worker.

He was born into poverty because his family did not have a lot of money. But Hare never saw that, he argues that even though he grew up poor in Leeds, he had love, security and a good social environment. Because of that, he never felt he was alone nor did he feel poor in spirit, which Hare believes is how the poorest people, who have basically nothing, are feeling today. Things changed though, when the strike of the coal miners began. And everything good about Leeds that he had known shattered to pieces. When they protested against Margret Thatcher’s liberalization, Hare got caught in the middle, which led him to doing drugs and starting drinking. But later in his life when he came across some young kids who were doing exactly the same thing, he decided to suck it up and help the community, and starting writing to promote his cause. “Absolute poverty was back with a vengeance.”1 Here he points out that poverty can become an evil circle, where money is spent but not for the better. “You’ll never have any money if you drink and smoke […] I was becoming aware that there might be a self-inflicted element to some people’s poverty”2 Here he comments on the fact, that he believes that the only way to escape poverty, is to do something about it yourself.

But to do so there needs to be an even playing field, where society does not favour the richer people. “Education is one way out of poverty, but the road is only worth taking when combined with social justice,”3 Since poverty and finding his place in society was a big part of Hare’s life, it is obvious that he uses parts of his life as examples, to get his message out. He uses examples from his life experience, so that he can come across as more reliable, when he argues his message. He makes it easier to persuade the reader – this is the rhetorical technique ethos. This comes across when he argues that people, who are born poor, find it hard to find their place in society “I had escaped poverty […] A year later I was plunged right back into poverty again.”4 Hare uses a lot of contrasts in his essay, to show the difference between poverty in the olden days that he experienced as a child, and the poverty nowadays – here he uses the kids as an example. The poverty in his childhood was to him much happier than the poverty today. People cared for each other and looked out for each other, they trusted each other even though they had nothing and might gain more from stealing from amongst each other. They were happy neighbours in Leeds in the 60s.

Today the poor feed themselves with drugs and misery – poverty is a fact in Britain. Today’s poor are a contrast to the 60’s poor – today they are all alone, back then they stood together. Hare underlines his message when he uses this contrast. The message; that even though his father was poor and beaten physically, he was rich and happy socially and mentally, whereas today the poor are both poor inside and out. When he underlines his messages with examples from his own life experiences, he gets a stronger appeal, which makes him seem like a more honest and trustworthy person. Hare also uses the rhetorical technique pathos by the use of adjectives, in this case to make the reader take a certain side. “Margret Thatcher was out to destroy the miners’ union”5 Here it is obvious that Margaret Thatcher is the bad guy who wants to destroy all the miners, and therefor he wants the reader to feel sorry for them. The central problem with Hare’s essay and his statements, that poverty is only a state of mind, is that it is psychological. Poverty is big part of humanity, and being physically poor means that your possibilities are restricted.

Those people who are stuck in poverty and can’t get out, it becomes difficult to reflect on the riches such as love and care. His point is good, when he claims that if you feel and think you are rich, then you are, but he forgets that despite his family was very poor, they were not unemployed. To conclude it all – the 21st century seemed to be a lovely change, democracy was on its way forward and there was growth in the middleclass. But when the financial crisis boomed in 2008, those unprepared paid a great price. Poverty became reality – especially in the north where unemployment shattered over the people. The parliament from south did not have a solution, and if nothing is done to change that rise in poverty, both the physical but also mental poverty, perhaps Great Britain will lose its greatness.


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