Do me favour today will you? Read this article before you go any further – it won’t take too long and it is easy to read and fascinating – then come back to me. The page will open in a new tab so you don’t lose this page…
You back already? Wow, you read fast! Thanks for coming back to me. 🙂
The story of the a wealthy young SUV driver rang a bell for me. His behaviour is the kind I see in Dhaka all the time. I hang out in the Gulshan/Banani areas because they are safest for us bideshis (foreigners) and I don’t know the other areas of Dhaka too well (and some not at all). Gulshan/Banani is the area of the capital inhabited by the rich. While I am wealthier than many, in this area I am definitely the poor relation and am quite used to being looked down upon by both Bangladeshis and bideshis in my shorts and T-shirts when I walk or pull up on a rickshaw instead of having an SUV with a personal driver. Still. how I am treated is an awful lot better than others around.
I love Bangladeshi people but, when it comes to the rich, I become very saddened and very disappointed very quickly. I have lost count the way I’ve seen the rich abuse Rickshaw wallahs and the slum dwellers kicked out of what little they call their homes and made to move on in the name of ‘development’ which really means ‘office blocks and luxury apartments’.
It seems that while the poor and lower middle class of Bangladesh (still, thankfully, the overwhelming majority of the population) have retained their Bengal culture and identity, the Bangladeshi elite have learned to be British in all the most awful meanings of the name – arrogant, snide, demanding and completely impatient with those who are their ‘inferiors and subordinates’. It saddens me that a wonderful nation is slowly becoming ‘just like all the rest’.
What Urvashi Butalia writes about as common in India now, I am thankful is not yet commonplace in Bangladesh – but it’s coming and coming fast as the country claws its way out of mass poverty. And in Britain, cleansed of true poverty long ago? It has spread like the plague…literally.
In fact, if you read the extra article on ‘Eating Sweets’ too then you might agree with me that, in reality, wealth is a disease. I would like to propose a name for this disease: RICH Syndrome (after all, acronyms always become popular, don’t they?)
Really Impoverished Compassion and Humanity Syndrome is now a pandemic in the whole of Europe and America with huge pockets in India and cases being reported frequently in Bangladesh. I’m sure there are many other cases throughout the world but these are the countries known to me.
If Butalia is to be believed then those suffering RICH Syndrome desperately need our help. I think the only way to tackle it is the same way you tackle any addiction (and wealth is surely addictive) – going cold turkey.
We need to take the money, the cars, the X-boxes, the jewelry – anything that is luxury and completely unnecessary for sustenance and ability to work and lead productive, useful lives – take it from them and put the elite back into society. Back into the world that most people inhabit. Back to the ‘common’ people. Let them see humanity again. Let them see the dignity with which most people are living in the world instead of the ‘squalor’ they normally perceive them to be stuck in. Let them find compassion again.
Let them weep.
Then, we can give them a decent allowance from their wealth (10% should be ample in most cases) and use the rest to make everyone else just a little less poor than they were – but not too much! It would seem that the only antidote or vaccine to this dreadfully debilitating disease is poverty itself. Until scientists find a cure, a pill the rich can swallow to return compassion to their souls en masse then we have to keep poverty for a while yet.
But maybe one day, we won’t have the poor in any corner of the world any longer and nor will we have anyone kicking over a Rickshaw, or hitting a poor person for touching their car or telling someone they’re not dressed decently or trying to rule others as politicians or religious leaders. Perhaps one day, together, we can eradicate RICH Syndrome altogether.
I can help to make this a reality. I just need you all to support me. I’ll need a good car to get me around the world. I’ll need a very good wage so I can fly to collect these poor suffering rich people (first class – I can’t do economy all the time as it makes my legs tired). I’ll need decent suits and jewelry and stuff so I can mix with these ‘patients’ and persuade them to come for treatment at my own exclusive state-of-the-art hospital and, of course, I’ll need an X-box to help me unwind; it’s hard seeing such suffering among the wealthy and I need something to help me unwind…
Wait a minute…
Stop, Ken. Stop. Before it’s too late.
I think I might have to go cold turkey myself…