I've been thinking about the economy and how so many people who were only just making it have now lost their jobs and homes. I wonder if we will learn to be more compassionate as a culture because of this, I want to see this sense of, we're all in this together, like after the war in England, but I'm not real hopeful.
I have to tell you this little story because It happened about ten years ago and it still haunts me. I was standing in line at the checkout, I think it was Safeway, I was about third back in line. The woman who was being checked out pulled out food stamps to pay for some of her shopping, and as she did this the woman behind her physically stiffened, I watched her take a swift visual inventory of the groceries, among which I noticed a bar of chocolate and some little treat items. And here's the BIG crime, she also bought a lottery ticket, $1 cash. Then, under her breath, but loudly enough for all of us to hear, her the accuser made a nasty little comment, something about using HER money to buy junk and gamble. and how it shouldn't be allowed. The accused hurriedly left the store with her groceries in one plastic bag while her accuser treated the checker to her opinions on the matter, she was disgusted that her taxes funded the stupidity, laziness and wastefulness of these people.
At the time I was struck dumb by the rudeness of this assault. why did she think she had any right to insult this woman she didn't even know. When you have very little chance of things getting better, when life seems impossible a little treat is a sign of hope. A lottery ticket is a tiny chance at freedom, for exactly $1 you can fantasize and plan the possibility of security, a home a car, and insane amounts of presents for your children. I'm not touting the lottery here, I'm just saying, this is why the vast majority of people who buy the tickets live well below the poverty line.
The worst thing to be in America is poor, In America the poor are culturally looked down upon without pity as though they did it to themselves, deliberately, (unlike the far away poor, in Africa and Asia who we can have compassion for and give help to while looking good doing so).
If you are poor here you will be assumed to be morally and intellectually defective. If you are a single parent doubly so, especially if you are a single mother.
Never-mind if you feel alone and scared and are desperately trying to do the best for your children, you and not the partner who left you will be perceived as the parasite if you ask for help.
so here's my question, because it hurts my heart to see how cruel we can be sometimes when we have the potential to be so utterly amazing.
How can kindness and community and compassion be seen as strength in a place where these values are seen as a sign of weakness.
No really! I want to know how we can change this blame the victim mentality. Any thoughts?