I Don’t Understand
I think that I was all of the way onto my twenties before I finally figured it out. It isn’t easy for a lot of us to do, especially for those of us who are strong-minded and consider ourselves well educated. We believe that as long as we are able to understand something intellectually, that we can understand it emotionally; this is not true. No one who has never been hungry and not known where or when they will find their next meal can understand hunger. No one who has chosen not to seek out help to remove themselves from an abusive situation, because they fear that the next place they land will be even worse, can understand that kind of constant fear. No one who is not put down and belittled every single day of their childhood and reminded that they will never amount to anything in life, can understand how hard it is to develop any kind of self-worth after surviving that environment.
Affluent people can be wickedly cruel, and sometimes they do not even know what they are doing. It sometimes brings me to tears when I hear the so called experts in the media saying that poor people should simply get jobs, and that mothers on welfare should simply stop having babies, and that addicts should simply stop taking drugs. While chaperoning my foster boys at a Narcotics Anonymous meeting once I listened to a woman tell the story of how she became an addict. She talked about the home that she grew up in, and how her parents were both addicts themselves, and how they would always have wild parties with all of their druggie friends. Apparently they were always too wasted to pay any attention to her, so she was often abused physically and sexually by their friends. She took to hiding in the closet while they were having parties, and to ease the pain and fear of sitting in the dark for hours at a time she first started drinking to numb herself, and later started using the same drugs that they did. This started when she was seven years old. When some over privileged asshole in a six thousand dollar suit on television, stands there and proudly declares that addicts should simply stop taking drugs it makes me want to scream and yell, because that guy has absolutely no idea in the world what he is talking about.
Kids may take recreational drugs for fun early in their lives, but they do not turn into even a significant fraction of addicts. Addicts are such, because they suffer from a mental illness of some sort, or because their lives have been so damn painful that they have lost the will to live but aren’t ready to commit suicide. I have listened to hundreds of different life stories of addicts and none of them were addicts just because they decided that it would be fun to be homeless and dirty and dependent on a substance for the rest of their lives…and they aren’t addicts because they screwed up and smoked pot once either. The majority of people on welfare are on welfare because they don’t know how not to be. They are not educated people, or they actually are educated people who have hit hard times and truly are deserving of the help. No one has ever bothered to educate the majority of the poor, and they have never accomplished anything in their entire lives that they have received praise for. Can you even imagine how that feels? When a young black girl has her first baby at seventeen because she was never taught about birth control and just wanted to feel loved for once, or because she was raped, what alternatives does she have besides going on welfare? Especially when a bunch of rich white men want to make it impossible for her to get an abortion in this country.
I am ranting, and that wasn’t my goal with this story. I was trying to make a statement about how very important it is that we all embrace humility. I don’t know how it feels to be a child growing up in an old money family with a million rules in life, and the expectation that I will someday take over the family dynasty. I have absolutely no understanding of how difficult that life might be…but at least I can admit that fact. No single individual knows how it feels to be someone else, but we do know what it feels like to be hurt, or put down, or degraded. I believe that it is time for us to start speaking up when we observe others doing this to our nameless faceless neighbors. I am so sick and tired of watching politicians pick on poor people. Why in the name of god are we tolerating this as a society, it should be making people livid, not earning anyone votes. It is incredibly intelligent to give hands up and not hand outs…but to accomplish this we all have to get involved. It is senseless to sit on the couch and complain about what the government is handing out, if we aren’t doing something about it ourselves. I strongly urge every person to get involved in at least one charity if not many. If you have a problem with the way that the government hands out welfare then why aren’t you working to help eliminate the need for it? Change can never happen without action. I think that we all just need to commit to giving a little more.