Thursday, June 11, 2009

I am poor, and have been for a lot of my life. It has taught me many things, about my own and others' perception of people in poverty, and about the seemingly taboo nature of the subject of money in general.

In the influential world of media entertainment, television and films usually poke fun at poor people for being lazy, freeloaders, moochers, uncivilized or under-educated. I usually try not to concern myself with how people perceive me (although subconsciously that's nearly impossible.) As long as I'm being respectful of others and all that, I could care less what people think of any shortcomings I may have, but our society's instilled notion that poor people aren't worth seriously caring about makes it hard for me, and I'm sure many others in my situation, to start a dialogue about money or even ask for financial assistance from the closest of friends and family who have expressed a willingness to help. I am even very self-conscious writing about this, thinking it will come across as just another poor person whining and complaining about not having money. It is a shot to anyone's pride to be seen as someone who is unable or incapable of supporting themselves.

The reasons for the negative perceptions of poor people is obvious. If you're poor it means you don't work, or are not doing enough work to 'earn a living' and a part in society, and you may also be stereotyped as someone with no ambition or self-esteem. Occasionally that may be the case, but the other reasons why people are in poverty go beyond the control of individuals affected, like the availability of jobs which is often an effect of the state of an economy, or the cycle of stress poverty itself creates, which can lead to depression and other mental illnesses that impair people from changing their lifestyle.

I have a job and pay my own rent, and like most people today, I also have debts that cripple my ability to invest money into savings, leaving me little hope that I will be 'financially stable' (according to the norms of the present social standards where I live) in the near future, or even be able to apply for the loans needed to further my education. This doesn't stop me from enjoying a happy life, but I have realized how many aspects of our lives are dictated by someone's financial state, like who we socialize with, where we live, and where we can travel; money has also become a basic survival necessity, without which almost all of us would be unable to continue living.

There is discussion about poverty in our communities and government, but I think it is largely unpopular due to the percentage of people affected and the earlier-mentioned social perceptions of those affected by the issue. It is an issue that still needs attention and enlightened solutions, not just from those we elect and trust to bring positive change to the state of life and society we are all a part of, but from anyone who is willing to help. This part of the world it is getting progressively worse when it comes to poverty, and the willingness to ignore the things that don't affect us until we find ourselves affected by it will only delay the repercussions that future generations will inevitable encounter.

I usually don't like writing about social issues unless I have some sort of step towards or suggestion of a universal solution of my own to offer, but the complexity of an issue sometimes warrants simply the propagation of awareness, not that the issue exists, but what its nature is, how it is continuing to affect people, and an effort to dig up as many possible causes we can think of that may have lead to our current state.

1 comment:

Demara said...

hmm..you wrote an essay there hey? It reminded me of something I might write for a class at college :)

I know it's hard.

We are poor too, but we manage!

Jeff and I both come from divorced upbringings and do not have help from our parents like most others we know that are married and own already, or have a family of their own started. It's hard. I know.

But we are only given that which God knows we can manage right?!?! He knows what is best. and that is you. money is no issue there. Thank God!