Saturday, October 25, 2003

The weight of the world.

A discussion with Katherine (to the best of my recollection, this was a few days ago, words are not exact, but the flow of the discussion is).

K: Mom, I miss home.
Me: I know, dear.
K: People take care of their homes there. People here don't care what their houses look like.
*warning bells, deeper subjects ahead*
Me: What do you mean?
K: Well, here they make their home of just about anything. In the States, we have nice big houses.
Me: That's true. Do you think that people here would like to live in a house like ours?
K: Yes.
Me: Why don't they?
K: Because they're poor?
Me: Right.
K: Then they should make more money.
Me: That's true. How could they do that?
K: Get better jobs.
Me: You're right. That would mean more businesses would have to be built and then more people could work.
K: Then they should have more companies.
Me: You're right. But do you know how many people live in Manila?
K: A couple thousand?
Me: If there were a couple thousand they might be able to make enough jobs. Unfortunately there are 10 million people in this city.
K: That's a lot of people.
Me: Yes, it is. Do you think there's room to make new jobs for all those people?
K: Hmmmm....
Me: So, Katherine, if there's not enough jobs for all the people, how are they to get money to build nice big houses like ours?
K: They could all work together to build a big house. They could all bring stuff and then build it together and then all live in it.
Me: That's a great idea. WHere would they build it?
K: Hmmmm.
K: So why are so many people poor?
Ian: Well, there are so many people in the city, and not enough jobs. But not only that, there is a lot of money in the Philippines, unfortunately all the money goes to just a few people and those people are in the government. They make the laws and they decide who gets money and when.
K: That's not fair. They should give it to the poor people.
Me: You're right, it should be shared, but the rich people won't share it.
K: Then the poor people should be in the government.
Me: You are absolutely right! How would they do that?
K: They should kick out the people there.
Ian: (we pretty much skipped over the whole voting thing, next time) Well, the people in the government are rich and if you have lots of money you can decide who's going to make the laws here. And if you take out one rich person, another rich person will take his place, so the poor people can't get in.
K: Then the poor people should fight.
Me: (OK, getting touchy) Fighting is an option, you're right. If you don't like something or if something isn't fair and you've tried to fix it the right way. What would poor people fight with?
K: Sticks and brooms and things.
Me: So the poor people could all fight together with their sticks and brooms and push out the rich people from the government.
K: Yes.
Ian: You know, they've done that before! They fought and put in a new leader. Unfortunately, he turned out to be just as bad as the people they'd taken out. In that case, it didn't work.
K: Oh. Well, then they should fight again.
Me: Yes. If the poor people have sticks and brooms to fight with, what will the rich people fight back with?
Rebecca: Guns!
Me: Yup. Guns, and who will use them?
Katherine: (resigned) Soldiers.
Rebecca: Police!
Me: Yup. So, you have one side all with poor people carrying their broooms and sticks, and the other side with the soldiers and police, all paid by the rich people, who are shooting guns.
Katherine: That's not fair.
Me: No, it isn't. What would happen?
K: Poor people would die.
Me: That's true. Is it worth it for people to fight when they know they could die?
K: No.
Me: There are people who think that dying is OK. IF after they died they knew that things would change, that things would be better, that it had been worth it. Here, there's no certainty of that. People could die and the government would stay the same. Would that be worth fighting for?
K: No... I miss home.
Our conversation slowed after that. It's a lot for a 7 year old to digest. It's a lot for a 29 year old to digest.

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