Tuesday, May 15, 2012


Yesterday I posted this image that my sister, Laura and I created together.
This morning I was looking at the comments on that post as it was shared around Facebook.

I saw that one man said this, "Poverty is
succumbing to tough external circumstances. I'll never starve or be in want. Determination will make a way..."  I think that is a cocky and ignorant attitude.
I think of physical illness, like in the case of, my quadriplegic grandmother who used every ounce of her determination each day simply trying to live. Were her husband like another man I met with a sick wife, she would have been divorced and left in some institution somewhere. But for the grace of love and a little luck, she would have had a very different life and no amount of determination or good choices would have changed that. Maybe we should remember that phrase, "But for the Grace of Love and Luck" and spend a little more time counting our lucky stars and less time disparaging those without such grace and luck.
I think of the failures of our society toward children and the young women and men who are turned out of their homes for stupid things ranging from being gay to dating someone out of their race which is disgusting for their parents to do. Some get kicked out for using drugs or getting pregnant. I do not fault teens for these lapses of personal responsibility, that's why we don't let them sign contracts, be independent or go to war till they are 18 - they are known for a lack of personal responsibility. As a result we have young people with no home, no education and no real ability to work themselves out of poverty. Again, "But for the Grace of Love and Luck..." my life, and probably yours, would be very different wouldn't it?
I think of mental illness and the scars of war that many citizens and veterans carry that have nothing to do with succumbing to weakness or not being tough enough to survive external circumstances. They are simply victims of illness and disease that our society doesn't understand and thus, discards. Think of that - whole people lost to nothing but carelessness and apathy. These people are not weak, they are sick. There is a difference. They did not choose this illness, they did not choose to carry the heaviest of burdens, their lives are half chance just like everybody else's. Just like yours and mine. (Here we are again - But for the grace of luck...)
To assume that people have earned poverty as a punishment for poor behavior is a denial of every shitty thing that you ever did. It is looking another person in the eye and saying "I am holier than thou. My sins deserve and beget wealth, while yours don't." That makes no sense. That is kicking a broken person when they are down. That is a failure to understand that at any given moment a person can fail desperately at survival. The world is a tough place. It doesn't discriminate toward riches, or cater to determination.
Never, ever, be so cocky as to believe that you are better than the 2-3 million people (mostly children) living in poverty today in America. You are lucky plain and simple. If you don't believe me, think about the fact that your spirit could just as easily have been born to a starving AIDS baby in Africa... How would your determination get you out of that one?
If you are one of those lucky souls who doesn't fight for survival on a daily basis, own it. Pay it forward. Lift somebody else up the way fate did you. Have some humanity - as the most recent meme I saw passing around this morning read, "You are the product of 4 billion years of evolutionary success- act like it."

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