The great secret, Eliza, is not having bad manners
or good manners or any other particular sort of manners,
but having the same manner for all human souls:
in short, behaving as if you were in Heaven,
where there are no third-class carriages,
and one soul is as good as another.

— George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion

The Higgins Treatment

I ask you, what am I?
I’m one of the undeserving poor: that’s what I am.
Think of what that means to a man.
It means that he’s up agen middle class morality all the time.
If there’s anything going, and I put in for a bit of it, it’s always the same story:
“You’re undeserving; so you can’t have it.”
But my needs is as great as the most deserving widow’s that ever got money out of six different charities in one week for the death of the same husband.
I don’t need less than a deserving man: I need more.
I don’t eat less hearty than him: I need more.
I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low.
I want a bit of amusement, cause I am a thinking man.
I want cheerfulness and a song and a band when I feel low.
Well, they charge me just the same as they charge the deserving.
What is middle class morality? Just an excuse for never giving me anything.
— George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion

This short speech from George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion struck a random thought from me. The term, “undeserving poor”, in particular. This got me thinking…

Undeserving poor are the “middle class” in developing countries. Being a middle class citizen in a third world or developing country today means just barely getting above ground away from poverty, but the gap towards being well-off still feels like aiming for the moon.

One is not really that rich to afford most of the comforts and luxuries of life but also not poor enough to deserve charity and help or even sympathy (at the least) to be deserving of small comforts.

And come to think of it, middle class citizens are the more law-abiding and moral of all the class structure. They pay their taxes on time and go about their own business to succeed whilst trying to maintain peace with their fellow and supporting the nation. They never complain as publicly and as often as the “deserving poor” with all their protests and sometimes over-the-top demands. But just like the deserving poor, the undeserving are also poor — with the same needs and wants as the deserving.

The middle class work too hard to be able to have barely enough of what the deserving poor needs but it would seem too much if they would start to want something more that only the rich can afford. The latter, I think, is what Shaw means by “middle class morality”. And I agree that it can be just an excuse to not give the middle class anything. It’s not their fault they are not poor enough to deserve charity and it’s not their luck to be able to give them either.

An undeserving poor is undeserving. They are. But once in a while, it is reasonable to experience the other side of life — to rest, to breath, to feast, to travel, to experience art and culture, and to enjoy the unreasonably-priced life.

Undeserving Poor

That Stings!

Daily Prompt: That Stings!
Franz Kafka said, “we ought to read only books that bite and sting us.” What’s the last thing you read that bit and stung you?

Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I was stung really hard by this masterpiece.

At the start of reading the book, it made realize that we are all cast aways in the great sea of life. Learning how to survive. Fearful of the big world surrounding us that sometimes feel like an ocean never ending.

So basically, Pi’s activities for survival is also same with living or surviving real life in a situation wherein you are left or at least feel alone. Alone. No family and friends but with situations you fear and don’t fully understand. The questions now are: will you just give up trying to survive or go on? If you decide to go on, how?

Belief in God. Religion.
Keep yourself busy. Forget the concept of time.
Learn from experience to be able to adapt.
Have a book. Hopefully, a long one with a never-ending story.

… And finally: Do things you don’t think you would ever do.
Now this last part really made me cringe. This is what bit and stung me so hard that at first, I refused to believe it. I am not going to expound for I would not want to spoil any one. Let’s just say, Pi would not have survived if it weren’t for Richard Parker. Good book. *sigh*

Guess my favorite book

“I could hear a roll of muffled drums.”

— This is the first sentence of my favorite book. Can you guess what it is?

(Disclaimer: I have so many favorite books. But this one is probably the one I can read over and over again from cover to cover without skipping a chapter or page. And to think it’s over 600 pages. :P)