From memes that compare Food Stamp recipients to dumb dependent animals to hateful comments overheard at church suppers, rails against the less fortunate permeate the atmosphere. I try not to respond to such venom, but I've been pimp slapped by one too many of them. Although I cannot share every detail for fear of repercussions, I will attempt to succinctly tell my story.
I grew up with two very hard working parents. They were not nameless, faceless lazy moochers, but two human beings with a tremendous work ethic that didn't garner them much money. They raised their first 7 children in a 4-room shack (not 4 bedroom--4 room) with no indoor plumbing, no air conditioning, and heating only with the aid of a wood burning stove.
By the time I slithered into the world, Dad was no longer able to work, Mom could only make so much as a housekeeper, and they were stuck with me; a defective child who needed lots of medical help and at the time, had no future prospects of being able to bring any money or skills to the table to help. So, they applied for Medicaid and Social Security Disability benefits, and when I was six years old, they moved me and two of my older siblings into government housing.
For those of you who believe in abortion, yeah, I know it should have been me.
Not only did my family have deal with my myriad of eye exams, surgeries, glasses, and apparatus, but various colds, flu, rashes, sores, bronchitis, knee injuries, back injuries, injuries from falling down, injuries from being beaten up, a scoliosis scare, and it was eventually discovered that I had contracted and was a carrier of tuberculosis. With every need for medical attention came my parents having to spend more time, more money, and more dignity in having to ask for help. My mom said she and dad took to heavy drink to cope. I take full responsibility for the shame they felt. Don't blame them; blame me. I finally caught on that I needed to stop telling my parents when I was sick or hurt. I still don't.
Fast forward to adulthood. I'm on my own, I've finished college, I'm still on disability, I've moved into my own government-issue apartment, and I head out to find a job. Three years later, I get a minimum wage job that lasts all of four months (got laid off), but I keep pressing on. Over the years I worked several long term jobs. None of them paid well (or were in my field of study), but it was enough good steady work to get off of disability and government medical insurance. Through a miracle of God, I just got out of government housing. I've only got one bit of assistance to get off now.
I told y'all this much hoping to gain some understanding and to stop this ridiculous class bashing. I definitely don't bash the rich; one, because they are the one's who buy things and hire (I've never gotten a job from someone who was broke), and two, because I want to be one of those rich people one day: I want to own my own house, pick the car I want, buy new clothes and shoes instead of relying on people's cast offs to have anything. Those are things most take for granted. That is richness to me.
Yes, I know that poverty is a curse, and accepting help from the government enhances that curse and increases their power over my life. Blame me for my parents' choice. Fault me for my own.
Truth be told, the government makes it very hard for those of us who work hard trying to get off assistance. They punish us for working and rewards others for laziness. Government BS is why my attempts to sell my crafts failed the first time. When I complained, their answer was that I needed to just go to "fill-in-the-blank" agency and try to "get a check." No, don't work, don't use your skills and education to better yourself. Sit in your substandard housing, do nothing and be nothing. That's messed up!
I've tried to tell people that every poor person is not a lazy moocher, and that everyone is one financial disaster, one health crisis, one family emergency away from being in the same boat, but they don't believe it could ever happen to them. I hope it doesn't. I hope they don't have to endure well off people telling them that wanting better for themselves is materialism, yet at the same time complaining about the church wasting money on the poor. I hope they never have to endure the embarrassment of using a Food Stamp card. I hope they never have to try to hide their financial status from their church family. I hope they never get so low they have to pray for socks and underwear. I hope they never have to; it sucks!
Please stop. I'm begging you. Please.