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Poverty Quotes from Scientists, Revolutionaries, Writers, Politicians, Athletes and Artists

These quotes about poverty will have you thinking deeper about the conditions we manifest on planet earth.

Did you know that every year, more than 6 million children die from malnutrition? Or that every day 800 million human beings go to bed hungry? Even worse, every minute a child dies in pregnancy or childbirth.

All three of these preventable conditions are a result of poverty. Even though humanity has survived to make it to 2021, we still haven’t found a solution to the problem of poverty on our planet.

What is it that makes poverty such a complex issue? The actor Jeff Bridges noted that “Poverty is a complicated issue, but feeding a child isn’t.” It seems we have a lot of work to do in this area as a collective.

These poverty quotes come from people and professionals from all different walks of life. Let us know which quote resonates with you the most.

Don’t forget to also check out these community quotes to help you find your place in the world.

Poverty quotes from revolutionaries

1. “Poverty is the worst form of violence.” – Mahatma Gandhi

2. “As long as poverty, injustice and gross inequality exist in our world, none of us can truly rest.” – Nelson Mandela

3. “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” – Mahatma Gandhi

4. “The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality.” – Mother Teresa

5. “Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.” – Nelson Mandela

6. “Being unwanted, unloved, uncared for, forgotten by everybody, I think that is a much greater hunger, a much greater poverty than the person who has nothing to eat.” – Unknown

7. “When a poor person dies of hunger, it has not happened because God did not take care of him or her. It has happened because neither you nor I wanted to give that person what he or she needed.” – Mother Teresa

Poverty quotes from Writers

8. “Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.” – Eli Khamarov

9. “Where people are really attached, poverty itself is wealth.” – Jane Austin

10. “The wealth of a soul is measured by how much it can feel… its poverty by how little.” –Sherrilyn Kenyon

11. Around the world, poverty and social background remain huge barriers in scientific careers.” – Jane J. Lee

12. “Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? –Charlotte Bronte

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13. “It takes nothing to stay in poverty, but everything to break free from it.” – Idowu Koyenikan

14. “You might be poor, your shoes might be broken, but your mind is a palace.”- Frank McCourt

15. “An educated man can put up with enforced idleness, which is one of the worst evils of poverty.” – George Orwell

16. “Childhood, after all, is the first precious coin that poverty steals from a child.” – Anthony Horrowitz

17. “But even though he had always been poor, he was a happy man and rarely shed a tear.” –Khaled Hosseini

18. “If you’re in trouble, or hurt or need – go to the poor people. They’re the only ones that’ll help – the only ones.”- John Steinback

19. “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.” –Herman Melville

20. “In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.” – George Orwell

21. “Herein lies the tragedy of the age: not that men are poor, — all men know something of poverty; not that men are wicked, — who is good? not that men are ignorant, — what is Truth? Nay, but that men know so little of men.” – W.E.B Dubois

22. “For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realize that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away.” – George Orwell

23. “A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first.” – Victoria Moran

24. The mass of the rich and the poor are differentiated by their incomes and nothing else, and the average millionaire is only the average dishwasher dressed in a new suit.” – George Orwell

Poverty quotes from Politicians

25. “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”-John F. Kennedy

26. “Extreme poverty anywhere is a threat to human security everywhere.” – Kofi Annan

27. “Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth…these are one and the same fight.” – Ban Ki-moon

28. “The ever more sophisticated weapons piling up in the arsenals of the wealthiest and the mightiest can kill the illiterate, the ill, the poor and the hungry, but they cannot kill ignorance, illness, poverty or hunger.” – Fidel Castro

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29. “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – Dwight Eisenhower

30. “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt

31. “Americans are blessed with great plenty; we are a generous people and we have a moral obligation to assist those who are suffering from poverty, disease, war and famine.” – Adam Schiff

32. “Why should some be miserably poor, so that others can be hugely rich? I speak on behalf of the children in the world who do not have a piece of bread. I speak on the behalf of the sick who have no medicine, of those whose rights to life and human dignity have been denied.” –Fidel Castro

Poverty quotes from Philosophers

33. “In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.” – Confucius

34. “It is also in the interests of the tyrant to make his subjects poor… the people are so occupied with their daily tasks that they have no time for plotting.” – Unknown

35. “An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.” –Plutarch

36. “Poverty is the parent of revolution and crime.” – Artistotle

37. “It is too difficult to think nobly when one thinks only of earning a living.” – Jean Jacques Rousseau

38. “Why should I marry a wife when I am a pauper and a beggar? I would rather bear the burden of poverty alone and not load myself with misery and want.” – Martin Luther

39. It [prison] is a cruel and useless substitute for the elimination of those conditions–poverty, unemployment, homelessness, desperation, racism, greed–which are at the root of most punished crime.”- Howard Zinn

40. “The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry; the coat unused in your closet belongs to the one who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the one who has no shoes; the money which you hoard up belongs to the poor.” – Basil the Great

Poverty quotes from Scientists

41. “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” – Charles Darwin

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42. “If you’re poor, you may not know anyone who works in STEM.” – Shirley Malcolm

43. “Agricultural research has greatly increased the yields of important staple food crops, and for many people this has meant more food availability and trade opportunities. Yet many people in rural areas in developing countries still live in abject poverty.” – Michelle Adato

Poverty quotes from Poets

44. “Last night my teacher taught me a lesson on poverty. Having nothing and wanting nothing.” – Rumi

45. “Whatever possessions and objects of its desires the lower self may obtain, it hangs on to them, refusing to let them go out of greed for more, or out of fear of poverty and need.” – Rumi

46. “Poverty is not for the sake of hardship. No, it is there because nothing exists but Allah. Poverty unlocks the door – what a blessed key!” – Rumi

More Poverty quotes

47. “To me, a faith in Jesus Christ that is not aligned with the poor…it’s nothing.” – Bono

48. “Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.” – Muhammad Ali

49. “Poverty is a very complicated issue, but feeding a child isn’t.” – Jeff Bridges

50. “Money is better than poverty, if only for financial reasons.” – Woody Allen

What did you learn from these poverty quotes?

It was Bob Marley who once famously stated that “Some people are so poor, all they have is money.” Bob was highlighting the difference between experiencing economic challenges and having a “poor” state of mind.

He was also commenting on how the acquisition of monetary wealth does not necessarily equate to a person having a life “rich” in relationships and bonds with others.

It is one thing to experience not having access to the necessary needs and resources that money can afford us, it is another thing to believe that external items are the key to peace of mind.

Life is about balance, so what does it say about us as a species that we cannot seem to find the balance to make sure our citizens are not experiencing poverty?

Well, we are working on it. It is exciting to know that people across the globe continue to strive to create a world where poverty is a thing of the past.

What’s your biggest takeaway from these poverty quotes and sayings? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Clifton Sankofa
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