It’s strange that when we see a poor person we lay blame on them.
Don’t think so?
What’s the first thing you think of when you see someone who you know is very poor, almost struggling and they are buying a Starbucks, or some designer jeans or maybe even *gasp* a few beers.
The immediate thought is that “Oh well they can’t be that bad off if they are buying things like that“. If one listens to the tone of that sentence then it implies that the person in question is perhaps doing this on a regular basis which they aren’t.
When you are poor it’s a fucking miserable existence. You are under constant stress becasue you do not know if you will be able to make ends meet to pay rent or bills never mind have enough to put food on the table.
Let’s just make one thing perfectly clear here: poor does NOT automatically = unemployed, so lets just get that out the way.
“Ok but it’s really their own fault for not doing well in school or not doing something to better themselves”
This ignorant statement is one I hear quite a lot and it is flawed for factors which most people can’t even perceive.
“Bettering oneself” presumably means getting educated to receive qualifications but that’s not an easy thing to even start doing for a couple of reasons –
1) It costs money.
Even here in Scotland where education is free you still need to pay rent or bills and part time work won’t cover that. Even if you did earn a place in a course you would have to stop your current employment and start the course then look for the part time work. So how do you pay for your rent & food in the meantime?
A lot of people commonly say “I have no money” but what they actually mean is that they have money but it is reserved for other things. I do it myself too. I always have money in the bank but I do not let it go below a certain level because I like that safety zone just in case something goes wrong. If it’s approaching the threshold and someone invites me out for a night on the town, It’s common that I will say “Sorry, I’m skint” but what I actually mean is my DISPOSABLE funds have been depleted.
I am reminded of a story I read a while back about a girl and her boyfriend. The girl was a waitress of some sort and she needed a new pair of shoes for work and had the choice of buying some cheap ones which would probably fall apart quite soon, or more expensive ones which were much more durable. She bought the cheap ones becasue that’s all she could afford. Her boyfriend said that she should just buy the better quality but more expensive shoes as they would last longer. The girl said she couldn’t afford them, but the boyfriend insisted that she should get them anyway as they would be a good investment. The girl had to sit the boyfriend down and explain that it wasn’t that she had the money and didn’t want to spend it, rather she did not have the money full stop. There was nothing in her bank account.
The money simply wasn’t there!
Apparently the boyfriend had trouble with this concept and it’s actually quite the representation of modern society.
People simply do not realise that there are no savings, there is no overdraft, there is no biscuit tin or penny jar and there is nothing to dip in to.
It’s the very definition of being poor!
The circular lack of money manifesting as a lifestyle is one which is commonly known as the poverty trap, a concept that many have heard but which few actually understand.
2) Learning differences
Academia is a wonderful thing. Going to college or university is great but one must remember that we are still very far behind the times when it comes to recognising the different learning methods of human beings.
At present there are four basic methods of learning –
- Spatial: You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural: You prefer using sounds and/or music.
- Linguistic/text: You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Kinesthetic: You prefer learning by example through using your body, hands and sense of touch.
University courses and the like are still all built around the one type of learning (Linguistic/text). Even the more artsy type courses utilise text based methods for exams and it’s counterproductive to simply present a subject which is heavily geared towards one method of learning then base the examination on another.
If you have the personality makeup which utilises that style then that’s of course that’s great. However, if your brain utilises one of the other methods of learning then you will struggle. The sad thing is that it has NOTHING to do with how intelligent you are, or how hard you work. Your brain simply isn’t receiving the correct input in order to process the data.
Unfortunately a lot of standard jobs these days also utilise the linguistic/text methods in their day to day tasks. This can account for why some people really struggle at what could be considered simple things like office work. Again it’s blamed on laziness, incompetence, or even stupidity, but the reason behind it is usually far more psychological.
It’s the old saying of giving a monkey and a dolphin the task of climbing a tree. The test is standardised so it’s fair for everyone but the monkey will undoubtedly win, yet it’s not because the dolphin is stupid.
We think we are being fair by making everything the same for everyone, but really what we should be doing is recognising that not every person is identical and adjusting society to account for that.
It’s not about special treatment either, it’s about individual treatment. No-one is getting off easy becasue no two people with different abilities could do the other’s task as well, so it’s not an easy ride.
When you are very poor, life is incredibly hard. Everyone knows what it feels like to be low, or stressed out from time to time, and it’s not nice.
So what do most people do in that situation? They treat themselves of course. A new pair of jeans or a favourite tasty meal or even a drink with friends. This small boost to mood is incredibly valuable to a person’s mindset and can give a lift which is both mentally healthy and acts almost like a reset button.
It stands to reason that the poor will have the most stressful lives out of the majority of the population. Why then when the rare occasion comes along when they happen to have maybe a little extra money do we tut and wag our fingers when they buy something nice for themselves? It’s as if we expect the poor to live in perpetual and neverending misery for their entire lives.
“Oh they shouldn’t be spending the money on that of they don’t have any”
It’s true that they could very well save the cash, but what would that do for their mental health? How would that make their day to day lives any less unbearable?
Saving money when you are rich, middle class or even just have a little disposable income is easy, because your day to day life does not suffer. You still have enough money for food and bills, so your main concern is not “I cannot eat today”, rather it becomes “I maybe cannot afford that holiday I was planning”.
Some may consider even that a form of savagery, but this is the point. The financial divisions are so vast that one from a higher tier simply cannot comprehend why anyone else would have less and so the conclusion is almost always “It must be their own fault”.
The mentality of “Well I achieved this so anyone can” is incredibly ignorant and dangerous.
We are fed so much bullshit by the media that we adhere to abhorrent stereotypes about one another. You may give to a charity but you will walk by a homeless person on the street, or you will lambaste a poor person for treating themselves. The universal message is that poor people are poor becasue of their own doing, and that is wrong. Falling into poverty/drugs or whatever is a symptom of something different.
Maybe they didn’t do well in school, but assuming they were lazy is not the answer. Maybe they were of a different learning mindset and it was society which failed them by not providing the methods to flourish and favouring only one other.
Perhaps the worst situation is when the opportunity was there but the methods to utilise it weren’t. This is a situation I see all the time. “Oh he had the chance and he blew it”
Why though? No one is asking why? They’re just assuming things then brushing it under the carpet.
Of course you are going to get genuinely lazy people, or the “too cool for school” mob who see improvement as some sort of defeat, but make no mistake, they are a minority. Tarring every poor person with the assumption that they are shiftless bastards is disgusting.
“Oh but I know they are like that”
Really? Are you friends with all of them? Have you spend an entire day with them? No, you are making assumptions without truly knowing the facts.
It is YOU who are the scum!
Being constantly told that you are worthless will make someone believe that. We are conditioning our most vulnerable in society to hate themselves as well as sending the message that it is ok to hate them of you are more well off.
So the next time you see someone who may be poor and they have something that is maybe a bit outside ether price range, stop and have a think before laying the blame.