There is a profound difference between the poverty that Henry David Thoreau writes of in Walden and the poverty that millions of people endure in lower/middle income countries (LMICs). One of the most important examples of this difference is that Thoreau chose a temporary life of simplicity, not because he had to, but because he wanted to test some philosophical truths. He famously writes in chapter 2,
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.
It is clear from this passage that Thoreau's "poverty" is voluntary, and that he lives simply not because he has to but because he wants to, as an experiment. In contrast, most people in LIMC or urban poverty endure it out of necessity, because they are unable to find a job or otherwise secure life's basic needs for themselves and their families.
Thoreau performed his experiment in...
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