“Culture is being studied and blamed as one of the causes for poverty in certain countries. Yet, it is undeniable that culture changes synonymously with the evolution of thought. Due to many elements including the digital world, external cultural changes are taking place at varying degrees each day.”
COUNTRIES are growing at their own pace in the economic world, but the growth of poorer countries seems always to be moving with very little or no momentum. There are a number of theories which endeavour to explain the economic climate of nations. Some may argue that the populace of various countries are possessed by a culture of poverty, which cannot be altered in spite of any number of anti-poverty programmes implemented. Others ascribe poverty and stagnant economic growth to political corruption, nepotism, crime, and geographical location.
There is another theory which links poverty to religiosity in certain ways. This linkage is presented in the secularization hypothesis which asserts that economic performance is affected by religiosity, or that the faithful are rendered less religious, the more economically advanced they become. If one is true, so must be the other. If religion affects industrialization which makes the industrialist less religious, then there ought to be something apart from the lack of religion, to inspire industry in the first place. Either we try to discover what that is, or consider yet another explanation; that the blueprints for economic growth were designed by atheists and secularists.
This argument is partly supported on the basis that the poorest countries are also the most religious. The School of Thought asserts that “belief is bad for wealth creation” on the grounds that religious adherents fail to foster economic development with credence in the thought that the world cannot be improved. This is a controversial theory which has sparked debate since the 1960s. Human behaviour is being widely examined as social scientists continue their studies on the subject.
Culture is also being studied, and blamed as one of the causes for poverty in certain countries. Yet, it is undeniable that culture changes synonymously with the evolution of thought. Due to many elements including the digital world, external cultural changes are taking place at various degrees each day through what is known as diffusion. It is one of the functions of innovation to stimulate social transformation, and cultural change invariably. If culture is a cause of poverty, it should change as mindsets change – unless poverty is evolving too. Culture is essentially formed by thoughts which inspire actions that develop into habits, which become a way of doing things. Attitudes are inevitably connected with the way things are done, and some attitudes maintain an atmosphere of wealth, and others, an atmosphere of poverty.
Lack of education is another candidate for the cause of poverty, and yet there are so many educated people living in poverty everywhere. We make excuses for the poorly-educated but what can we say about the educated poor? Poverty may simply be a habit which thrives in the absence of a more positive one; the habit of efficiency. According to a list of 183 nations ranked in order of highest IQ, which was composed from studies by Richard Lynn, Professor of psychology, and Tatu Vanhanen, professor of political science, St. Lucia ranked at 182. The statistics may be flawed or biased, but it raises interesting questions. Does this mean that the St. Lucian people are not very bright, or that something very vital was overlooked? Could the researchers have been baffled by an intelligence that is distinctly St. Lucian; the kind that only a “Lucian” can comprehend? What can this low IQ nation of St. Lucia, teach the fraternity of social scientists with their varied theories?
It teaches that in spite of St. Lucia’s allegedly low IQ, its third world status and young age as a nation, its religiosity and culture, the people continue to excel beyond and above expectations. It is the mindset of those who achieve, which fuels the actions that builds the engine that is called the habit of efficiency. Anything that is done with an attitude of efficiency (whether the skill to it has already been acquired or not) will produce results. Vanessa Redgrave, an English actress in a 1978 interview with Farouk Abdul-Aziz, remarked that “you can do what you think you can’t do, and in trying to do it you create the conditions for your body to be able to do it.” The actress, after attaining this understanding, learned “impossible” dance routines by practicing the habit of efficiency from the start.
Efficiency is a habit that is developed by doing things with a positive mindset. Efficient people were not just born that way, they might have been efficiently conceived, but so were all of us. It is the conscious doing of things that needs to get done (whether one is motivated to do so or not), which aids the cultivation of this habit. The more efficient people a country produces, the better the chance of finding efficient people in positions of leadership who are not just academically qualified, but efficient to the core. This is a sure way of reducing the poverty of any nation, and to stimulate economic growth. It is the habit of efficiency which inspired Timothy Scott Archer to expound on what has been presented as the Efficiency Theory, which supports poverty reduction through the minimization of time, effort and skill.
It was the habit of efficiency in doing what they did, which made St. Lucia’s Nobel Laureates the men that they became. It is the habit of efficiency with which Lavern Spencer and Julien Alfred perform, which makes them the sport-stars that they are. It is the habit of efficiency in every St. Lucian who excels in their own way, which makes them the successes that they are. Theories which explain why some countries are poor may be nothing more than excuses for what cannot be fully understood, or the theorists’ own way of securing their wealth. In the meantime we can instil the habit of efficiency in our children and harness it within ourselves to see the difference it would make. We are poor not because we lack wealth, but because we fail to utilize the resources which generate it.