The difference between being poor in times like the Middle Ages and now is that if you are poor now you have very little options available to you. You need money for most things, and if you don't have money, they might as well be on the moon. In our present time, it is a little telling that all resources- including the necessary resources of life like food and water- are being swallowed up in commercial markets. To live, you must have money, and to have money you must work by serving civilization in some way. It, for the most part, is a self-reinforcing system.
But back then, the poor could leave the "city" or settlement and venture to a spot for themselves. It is a bit trying to actually imagine a poor person who did not live in a town or urban area. For a person in the country, work and the weather dictated your lifestyle. So long as you were willing to work and the land didn't fail you, you lived well enough. You did not have the many opportunities for excess, but you didn't go into squalor either. And you still had a greater range of personal freedom and space. Poor, then, seems to be linked with urban life and civilization. In a place where everything is commercialized or controlled by some entity, poor is when a person has no, or lost their access (money or privilege) to any of these things.
......not sure what I'm trying to get at. But it's my blog and I can write what I want to.
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