The West’s Romance with Poverty

Sri Lanka's Stilt Fishermen

Yesterday I watched a report about Sri Lanka on discovery channel: The usual images of beaches, temples and smiling people.

The report closed with a longing sunset scene of those uniquely Sri Lanka fishermen sitting on sticks in the water.  The commentator’s fade-out comment: “Here in Sri Lanka, where work is still a pleasure.”  Beg your pardon? I have tried to sit on those sticks and managed to stay up there no more than ten minutes. The sun burns brutally from the sky and the water. Thus grilled from both sides, one sits there, the shaky stick-structure digging into the flesh while the sea salt eats at your skin. It is terrible.
Even with lots of training it will never be a pleasure. Sure, one gets used to everything but why then abolish torture? 
Those men sit there every day of their lives, from the age of eight or ten when they are old enough for their own “stick” to the day they are too old to climb upon the stick and die. No retirement fund there.   On the other hand I have seen the TV teams in the luxurious resorts along the coast. If they do not enjoy their work, then who will?

It seems somewhat ungrateful to envy the fishermen. Poverty is not romantic, nor honest.
It has bad teeth and dies early.”
 
 

 



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