Life has imitated art in India: A penniless young man has just become the first person in his country to win a million dollars on a game show. He won it on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, as if starring in the hit movie of three years ago, Slumdog Millionaire. I note this in Impromptus today. An AP report on the young man is here.
The report tells us that, until now, the man has been too poor to own a television set. And, in my column, I remark, “Americans like me are occasionally startled to remember that, in some places in the world, the poor don’t have television, cars, air conditioning, and cellphones.”
Long ago, I heard a story about a poor man in India whose dream was to visit America, just once. “Why?” his friends asked him. He answered, “Because I want to see a place where poor people are fat.”
A major problem among our poor is obesity, or so we are given to understand. I believe it. And I would not make light of this problem (nor am I trying to be cutesy with “light”). But we have reached an interesting pass in human history when a major problem of the poor is obesity. For millennia, the problem was the opposite — still is, elsewhere.
I think the spiritual component of poverty is woefully underexplored. Maybe I’ll get off my duff and explore it someday.