Wednesday, June 26, 2013

No One Chooses to be Poor

Recently this was posted by Bambi Watson. I asked her if I could share it here. I didn't copy it at the time, and had to go back in her timeline to find it. I find it interesting to note that despite the number of comments and "LIKES," it did not show up as a highlight. Makes me wonder what the criteria is that is used.

This isn't flowery. It isn't pleasant. But what it is, is real. It is something that is good perspective. I am seeing so many reminders lately of how "fickle" we humans can seem. I saw a story about a mother who is Mormon who fought gay marriage, but has now changed her mind - given that her son is gay. I saw something the other day about race.

In so many arenas of life we as humans have one experience of life until another experience of life comes along to change our feelings on what we thought we believed. Some - who likely have never been challenged in that way - would criticize a person for their change of path. Perhaps, though, it is a sign of growth, compassion, understanding and other good things. Perhaps one day, if we are lucky, we will find a way to be those things without having to hurt others in the process.

If you would like to help Bambi, she has a GoFundMe page. $5, I believe is the minimum. I know that we can't always donate to every cause and need that comes our way, but I ask you to check in with your heart and your soul, and if it feels right to give, I ask that you consider listening. As much as I hope it never is, it could be you one day.

I don't think most people can really grasp what being really poor is actually like...unless they have actually lived it.

I know I thought I knew what being poor was like... after all I grew up working class poor... we lived in trailers and low rent apartments...never had a car less than 10 years old... ate lots of "poor" food...noodles, potatoes, rice... wore second hand clothes... as a kid, it always seemed like we were poorer than everyone else...but we lived in the rural suburbs, weren't on food stamps or welfare, my folks would say we were lower middle class... now I know that translates to working low income just one paycheck from poverty...

As an adult, I improved on that... first home owner in my family... in an upper class neighborhood even if on the very edge in a tiny ramshackle house... it was a house, in a good neighborhood with good schools for my kids...and I worked my butt off to make sure we were never as poor as I had been as a kid...except we were poor compared to the neighbors who were doctors and lawyers, etc... my kids wore some second hand clothes, but also new stuff from K-Mart or Target... unfortunately, their school mates wore designer name brand clothes...

I remember how excited I was when I got my first car that was less than 10 years old...then one that was less than 5 years old...then the economy tanked... lost my job, unemployment ran out, messy divorce, ended up homeless.... and realized that I had never actually ever been truly poor before... now I understand.

It's easy to judge, or think that will never happen to me... it's easy to blame the poor...think they are lazy, or make bad choices... but it really can happen to anyone...a bad accident can leave you unable to work, or you get laid off after 30 or 40 years in one profession only to find out your profession no longer really exists...there are a million different things that can happen and you suddenly find yourself drowning...

And the shame... in America there is a mentality of blaming the poor for being poor, as if they woke up one money and just said "screw eating, shelter, indoor plumbing...I think I'm going to become poor"

Yeah right.

Then there is the whole stigma that poor people are lazy... what a crock... being poor is hard work for little or no pay... no more car, now you walk endless blocks to catch the bus, lugging groceries, laundry... you become a cart person, people on the bus give you the evil eye because your little cart of groceries gets in their way...you spend hours in lines for a small bag of day old bread, some cans of pumpkin and noodles, rice, beans...

If you're lucky enough to be physically able to work, then you're competing with healthy 20 somethings for jobs at McDonalds.... and minimum wage barely pays the rent in most states. Plus no one wants to hire someone who rides the bus...it's not considered reliable transportation...

Nobody chooses to be poor...

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