Do you agree that poverty, ignorance and oppression undermine a society

Do you agree that poverty, ignorance and oppression undermine a society?

I agree that problems like poverty, ignorance and oppression greatly undermine a society and can virtually destroy a nation's social fabric. Although some nations are seriously combating these problems, there are others which do not seem to make any progress at all. How can these problems undermine our society?

Poverty can cause social unrest. It is especially so when the rich-poor divide is very huge. The poor envy the rich and resent their own predicament. In spite of their hard work to make an honest living, it is impossible for the poor to overcome poverty due to the corruption and inefficiency of the government, or worse, the exploitation of the rich. Hence, most people will seek radical change as a way to improve their lives and will resort to riots to do so. One very clear and good example comes from our southerly neighbour, Indonesia. Due to the corruption, cronyism, inefficiency and oppression of the Suharto regime, further exacerbated by the 1997 financial crisis and sky-high unemployment rates, university students started protesting against the government. Troops were called in but soon, pent-up feelings over decades of living in poverty and misrule led the people to riot. Many lives and property were lost and crimes against humanity were committed.

Poverty is also a harbinger of even more problems like prostitution and drug dealing. As poor rural workers move to the city to look for jobs and use it as a way to escape poverty, there is even more pressure on the city to allocate resources such as housing and other social amenities for these people. In many cities, shantytowns, ghettos and slums have mushroomed and unemployed and disillusioned people engage in drug-dealing, shoot-outs with law enforcement agencies and also prostitution. In Rio de Janeiro, the favelas, where the poor live, are well known crime havens. The police patrolling the area have to be fully armed in Kevlar vests and carry semi-automatic rifles. Gunshots are also frequently heard in those areas. This is caused by the area's illegal businesses being owned by crime lords who vigorously defend their territory and illegal businesses from both law enforcement agencies and their business rivals.

Poverty also created illegal immigrants who only bring added woes to their host country. Poor people have sought to leave their countries illegally to seek jobs and a better life. When they cannot find jobs due to their poor skills or illiteracy, they resort to crimes like theft and robbery, thus presenting more social problems to their host countries. One example would be China where many mainland Chinese sneak into neighbouring countries like Japan, Korea and Taiwan, some voluntarily and some by force through illegal snakeheads and human smugglers, to look for a better life. When they are unable to find jobs, they start to commit crimes like kidnapping, arson and robbery; female migrants may enter the sex trade to make ends meet. All these give extra social problems to their respective governments. It also undermines society as it decreases social security. This phenomenon is also seen in Singapore, but to a lesser extent.
Ignorance is also very deadly to society though in a more indirect way. Ignorance makes people susceptible to certain dangers which can be very harmful to society. One clear example would be the spread of AIDS in Africa. Due to a lack of awareness or ignorance on the part of the locals, AIDS has became a major epidemic in Africa. Many children are born with the HIV virus and many more are made orphans when their parents die due to AIDS. AIDS has also begun to ravage China, for instance, the Hunan province, where entire villages have been infected and wiped out. The HIV virus started spreading through that area when peasants sold their blood to unlicensed blood banks. Poverty and ignorance of basic knowledge of AIDS led to the massive infection of people. The worse thing is that the Chinese government has been hiding this fact and ordering information blackout on the AIDS epidemic. As a result, many more people were infected and unaware of it. The Chinese government also has ordered an indefinite period of quarantine in these villages, which also means that they could not receive medical help from outside. Entire families were exterminated and the villages were completely destroyed. Recently, the spread of AIDS has hit major Chinese cities and is expected to cause a huge problem to China's society if this ignorance among the Chinese people is not rectified.
Ignorance will not only affect one society, but many other societies as well. No country is an island and SARS has taught the whole world a lesson. Ignorance is often tolerated or excused. During the early winter period, the Hong Kong press reported that a mysterious flu was spreading. China feigned ignorance and brushed aside the report as mere lies. Thus, the whole world remained blissfully ignorant of what lay ahead. It was not until a Chinese doctor blew the whistle, an act which was most admirable, that the Chinese government fully admitted the true extent of the SARS situation. Even then, the Chinese government cooked up a lame excuse for not coming clean earlier, saying that they thought it was a mere case of spring influenza. Their excuse had taken the lives of 33 Singaporeans, mostly healthcare workers, and 774 people worldwide. We live in a climate of fear under the dreaded shadow of the virus; our trust in each other was undermined and social relationship became strained.
Oppression also undermines society by curtailing its creativity and suppressing its vibrancy. Humans are not amenable to manipulation, but despotic governments throughout the world strive to control their citizens like robots, only to ruin their country and society. Some countries oppress their minorities, thus handicapping their progress. This is true in Palestine. Under the hard-line Sharon administration, Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip face daily curfews and raids by Israeli soldiers on the lookout for terrorists groups. This has only served to antagonize the Palestinians further, and many hold deep resentment against the Israelis over their shattered lives. With the Palestinian economy in shambles, many Palestinian youths find solace in their religion and believe that terrorism should be the way to advance their cause and their fight for an independent country. The fact that many young Palestinians hold such suicidal thoughts is very damaging to the Palestinian society. It also fails to end the vicious cycle of violence and oppression.

From all the above reasons and examples, we clearly see that many problems that are faced by society stem from poverty, ignorance and oppression. Thus, I agree that poverty, ignorance and oppression undermine a society.


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