The hour when you say, "What does my happiness matter? It is poverty and filth, and a wretched complacency. Yet my happiness should justify existence itself!"
(Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900), German philosopher, classical scholar, critic of culture. Friedrich Nietzsche, Sämtliche Werke: Kritische Studienausgabe, vol. 4, p. 15, eds. Giorgio Colli and Mazzino Montinari, Berlin, de Gruyter (1980). Zarathustra, in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, First Part, "Prologue," section 3 (1883).
Describing man's greatest experience, the hour of his great contempt.)
Our affluent society contains those of talent and insight who are driven to prefer poverty, to choose it, rather than to submit to the desolation of an empty abundance. It is a strange part of the other America that one finds in the intellectual slums.
(Michael Harrington (1928-1989), U.S. social scientist, author. The Other America, ch. 5, sct. 1 (1962).)
Media mystifications should not obfuscate a simple, perceivable fact; Black teenage girls do not create poverty by having babies. Quite the contrary, they have babies at such a young age precisely because they are poorbecause they do not have the opportunity to acquire an education, because meaningful, well-paying jobs and creative forms of recreation are not accessible to them ... because safe, effective forms of contraception are not available to them.
(Angela Davis (b. 1944), U.S. political activist. Address, November 15, 1987. "Facing Our Common Foe," published in Women, Culture and Politics (1989).)
The psychological painand the ethical shameof American poverty are made greater by the fact that this country possesses the wealth and the energy to raise all children to a minimally decent standard of living.
(Kenneth Keniston (20th century), U.S. professor, human development. All Our Children, ch. 2, The Carnegie Council on Children (1977).)
How vainly shall we endeavor to repress crime by our barbarous punishment of the poorer class of criminals so long as children are reared in the brutalizing influences of poverty, so long as the bite of want drives men to crime.
(Henry George (1839-1897), U.S. economist. Social Problems, ch. 9 (1883).)
There's a point of poverty at which the spirit isn't with the body all the time. It finds the body really too unbearable. So it's almost as if you were talking to the soul itself. And a soul's not properly responsible.
(Louis-Ferdinand Céline (1894-1961), French author. The narrator (Ferdinand Bardamu), in Journey to the End of the Night, p. 196 (1932, trans. 1934, 1966).)
I believe that one of the most dignified ways we are capable of, to assert and then reassert our dignity in the face of poverty and war's fears and pains, is to nourish ourselves with all possible skill, delicacy, and ever-increasing enjoyment.
(M.F.K. Fisher (1908-1992), U.S. author and food expert. How to Cook a Wolf, Conclusion (1942).)