I have a pretty good life. It would be easy to sit back and say, ‘look how well I’ve done.’ No one would like me any more and things would go downhill a little from there, but it would be easy to think that way.
It would be easy to jump from that train of thought to another which says that people who are doing it rough have done that to themselves.
I want to be honest – give credit where it’s due. I can take a tiny percentage of the blame for how good my life is. TINY.
I have done some good things, yes, but through no virtue of my own…
– I was born to a stable home, never went hungry, was not abused, did not even witness addiction until well into adulthood.
– I was always expected to get an education. People believed I was capable of learning, of looking after myself, of becoming a contributing member of society.
– I was taught how to save and spend money wisely. I was taught how to cook healthy and cheap meals. I was taught how to read and write and think for myself, to question authority. To not be a sucker. To not go into debt on a car.
– I went to excellent state schools. I had friends from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, boys and girls, and several with severe disabilities.
– The personalities in my family meant that there were lots of engaged (cough-enraged) discussions and debates over the dinner table.
– I lived overseas. I saw that whole societies operated differently to the way I thought was ‘normal’. I realised ‘normal’ was a myth.
This was all before puberty. I was given a damn good start in life. And through no virtue of my own, I do not struggle with anxiety, depression, addiction or severe health problems.
Wouldn’t it be IGNORANT and ARROGANT to assume that other people should be able to have a life as sweet and comfy as mine, if they just set their minds to it? If they just believed in themselves, and got to work, and quit making stupid decisions?
Someone whose home life was unstable, who was not infused with security and confidence from the word ‘go’.
Someone who was emotionally and/or physically abused by the very people meant to care for and love them.
Someone surrounded by addiction.
Someone who was not taught how to spend money wisely. Who doesn’t understand that a pair of sneakers or a car are never an ‘investment’. That $10 can buy one take-away meal or a whole day’s worth of groceries.
Someone who never learned how to cook healthy, yummy food.
Someone not confident in their ability to read and understand, to communicate effectively.
Someone who was punished for questioning authority, or who only ever saw adults believing every bit of spin going. Every advertisement promising to peel 30 years off your age. And perhaps they live in a neighbourhood with a bunch of loan sharks.
Someone who only ever had friends who looked and talked and lived the same way they do.
I could go on.
Well, I just got lucky, didn’t I? Some would say ‘blessed’. Whoever gets credit, it’s not really me, is it? My parents get some credit, but they can’t take all the credit for their nice lives either. So, my grandparents get some credit, and indeed some of them came from some pretty dire situations.
I think it’s time to stop the blame game. Be thankful, and humble, and treat others with compassion and grace.
Some people need a lot more help than I do. That’s not because I am better than them. NOT AT ALL. I do not DESERVE a happier, healthier existence. I am not entitled to more.
We will probably go on disagreeing (we being society) about just how to best lift people out of the cycle of poverty, but can we please discuss THAT rather than all the eye rolling, finger-pointing, ‘not my problem’ B.S.?
That said, let’s actually have these discussions. Let’s get involved and speak up. Let’s tell the politicians that we do care and we expect them to do something about it. We’re stuck with them for the next god-knows-how-long. AND THEY’RE STUCK WITH US.