August 25, 2015

The Stigma of Being Poor

Note: this is not my typical type of post. I hope you allow me to express a few strong opinions without tossing me in the trash!


While a youngster, growing up in solidly middle class suburban neighborhoods of Philadelphia and Boston, I had no contact with poor people. The homeless, those down on their luck, the ill or infirm, or those who just couldn't grab their share of the American dream for whatever reason, were not part of my life. 

Sure, I saw news stories on TV about their plight or heard sermons on Sunday morning about Jesus and the poor. I was aware I was economically blessed, but "out of sight, out of mind" was where I relegated that unpleasant fact of life.

Not a lot changed over the next four or five decades. Living in place like Scottsdale, or now, Chandler, Arizona, means my day-to-day existence is rarely touched by the economically poor. Folks on street corners with signs are there, but I just pass them by.

Recently, something has begun to change, for me, however. I am being "forced" to think about my reaction to the poor. My lifestyle and where I live are not why. Rather, the change is being caused by the downright hateful attitude I see toward those who are struggling economically. 

While certainly not restricted to this arena, political posturings seem to be the most obvious place to find people who blame the poor for their own misfortune, seek to make their hard life even more difficult, vilify their efforts to improve their position in life, and generally seem to wish the poor would either just disappear or die off and stop being so damn visible and needy. Sure, some of the poor are lazy and cause their own problems. But, that is not the majority...that is not even the minority, but a tiny sliver of folks.

As a Christian and someone whose spiritual life is at the core of my life, the reaction of some others of my faith also causes me distress. Sometimes, I am forced to conclude that these people have either never read the Bible, or have missed the point entirely. The disparaging comments for those less fortunate, the active dislike of people different from them, the hypocrisy of condemning one particular sin while conveniently overlooking their own shortcomings in the eyes of God.....makes me crazy.

In large part, I believe the negative reactions to those different from us comes from fear: fear that our way of life, our idea of the order of things, is changing without our permission, without our consent. Even though every moment of every day involves change, in this instance people are trying to hold onto a world that no longer exists.

But, what drives me even more 'round the bend, is not knowing what to do about it. Giving money to a charity for the homeless, volunteering at a local food bank, speaking up when someone makes a crude joke about a homeless family.....those are all well and good.

But, those actions don't do anything to halt the hate. They don't get people to look at the less fortunate as human beings, created in the image of God, every bit as precious in the eyes of the Creator, who deserve our love, respect, and all out efforts to ease their suffering and pain.

We can disagree with a choice they have made, or see how a series of decisions caused a problem. But, nowhere in the teachings of Jesus, or of simple human decency, can I find it is OK to treat them like disposable human beings, or to line our own pockets while pushing them even deeper into the muck. 

I am open to suggestions. I need to do something to help break the feeling in our society that those not like us are the enemy and that the poor are not our problem.

Believe it or not, this is part of a satisfying journey...the search for a purpose.


Note: A regular reader and e-mailer to me sent the following. I thought it would add to this post and give us all something to think about. The explanation of different types of poverty is helpful.

Thank you, Richard.


66 comments:

  1. I grew up among the poor, but the whole farming community was poor. I made it out. School, training and then education.

    The poor must be divided into two groups; those who providence or fate has stomped on and those who have chosen it as a way of life by choosing drugs, alcohol, inactivity, indecision, or the like.

    Both groups can use help, but money is not the way to help one group, and money is all the other can use, and will never have enough.

    Both groups need education and/or training. That is the way out for both groups. But first they need to a change in their thinking, and that is where we, as a society, have failed and will continue to fail until we change our attitudes. The sad part is that most of the 'successful' do not understand what is missing for many of them nor where the problems are in producing a flourishing life.

    Education by the religious that has worked up tho this point, but has reached saturation among the population and additional likely makes the problem worse. We all need to realize that success is up to us, and we may need to define success differently. It is that definition of success that allows success.

    I wish you good luck in your search for a personal purpose. I found my answer in the realization that the human purpose is to grow and flourish as a population, and we have added to that flourishing during our lives. It it now our purpose to continue that helping and guiding role until we return to where we came from.

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    1. Isn't part of the problem that we have become used to seeing things in an "us or them" sort of way? There is no shared community or responsibility. I bet that your farming community, while poor, had no problem finding folks to pitch in and help as needed. You were all in it together. Today, we are all in an "every man for himself" mindset.

      Your comment is thoughtful and important. Thanks, Fred.

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  2. Try to help one person at a time.Once a month I deliver food from the Foodbank to people who have no transportation.My wife cooks and delivers meals once every 2 weeks to a few poor families and talks and eats with them and deals with other needs there.

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    1. It is really a one-on-one situation. Making one person's life better is something I can see myself helping do, while making a meaningful dent in the overall societal attitude is not. Good points, Harry.

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    2. I'm reminded of the story of two guys walking on the beach.

      One of them saw a stranded starfish, so he picked it up and threw it back into the ocean. His colleague criticized him, saying "Why bother? With so many stranded starfish on so many beaches, does it really matter?"

      To which the first guy responded, "Well, it matters to THIS starfish."

      Even small things -- one on one -- do matter to someone. (Great post!)

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  3. What to do? Take some time and actually go talk with some of the homeless/poor people.

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    1. Good idea. As Harry notes above, one-on-one, slow and steady.

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  4. I grew up poor in a family that didn't encourage education. It was necessary but when you were old enough to quit school no one seemed to mind. They wanted you to go to work and contribute to the family income. After attending 14 schools in 12 years I was thrilled to graduate, but none of my family came to the graduation.
    Maybe it's because of my own story but, I feel education has to be key in improving the lives of the poor in our country. Remaining stuck in ignorance has led us to this year's political climate, I'm afraid. As Maya Angelou said, "When you know better you do better." It's time for all of us to do a better job of improving education and providing opportunities through knowledge rather than allowing people to drown in ignorance. Fund education, not wars.
    b

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    1. Fund education, not war. Amen, Barbara.

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  5. Humanize the poor. Most people speak about the poor from ignorance. How will it change? One person at a time. Talk freely about your experiences while working with the poor. Speak to others about serving meals and building houses.

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    1. I may be able to use this blog to help with sharing experiences and causing someone to pause and think before vilifying or ignoring. That would make me happy.

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  6. I'm going to second Janette and others' comments. First of all, as I've said before (and will be sharing on an upcoming post in the next week or so), the best way to become educated is to volunteer with rather than to or for. Don't get me wrong, food and money are needed, but after working "with" the working poor for years, I learned things that I never did before. For example, many of them work harder every day than I could possibly imagine-women leaving kids to get on the bus alone, working two jobs, coming home kissing the kids who may well have made dinner and starting over again-with no benefits and no savings. I also agree we need to humanize people in general. And finally, not to add too much political fuel to the fire, we need to not be "us" and "them". This is a huge problem in this country, this idea that "we" work hard and we don't want "them" to take anything "we" have earned. And I really don't know how to change that..........

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    1. "Volunteer with, rather than to or for"....that is powerful, Barbara, and a very helpful suggestion for me at this time.

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  7. Oh, sorry I meant to add. .......while you may not "see" the economically poor in Chandler, they are there. They just remain hidden.

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  8. This topic ate at me too when my church sent their annual giving notice asking for more. I thought that I wanted to give more to those closest to me who were not as well off as I was. I found out its very rewarding and very difficult at the same time. Those I helped appreciated the money - but what I learned was that it had to be given with respect for their dignity and individuality. I don't help others by making them be like me - I help them by supporting them in being the best of what they want to be.

    I learned a person needs to experience small successes over and over and need to be recognized for those achievements. I learned not to assume someone knew basic skills that I have (mangaing a checking account, filling out a form) but NOT to make them feel bad for not having those skills. It's an ongoing lesson and it happens one on one.

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    1. Helping someone not be just like me, but able to grow to whatever their own potential is.....perfect. Your comment adds to the one-on-one approach suggested by several. I guess that was what I was doing while involved in prison ministry. I could only try to help one man at a time.

      Thanks for the reminder.

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    2. Very important Bonnie. I would also mention that its helpful to ask people what they need the most, rather than deciding what you think they should need and giving that. This is true of organizations that are not poor as well.

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  9. Well, you volunteer at the prison ... that's doing something about it! I volunteer at the community college and I see lots of poor people, and every single one of them is trying hard to improve themselves, get an education and a better job, even though the odds are stacked against them. But then, it's a self-selected group. I don't know how many poor people are "lazy" or "self-destructive"; I just see the ones trying to make it in this country ... and I respect the hell out of them.

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    1. I venture to guess the vast majority would rather be successful than stuck in poverty. But, it is easier to just assume someone is poor because they don't work hard enough or have made bad choices.

      I like your idea of volunteering at a local community college. The CC system in Maricopa County is excellent, and there is a campus 10 minutes from our new home.

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  10. It is very hard for me to understand, or accept, the hatred for other human beings! Regardless of one's religious or political beliefs, human decency requires us to be kind, charitable, and when able, lend a helping hand to those in need. When I hear voices of hatred from others around me, I can't help but to say something to hopefully provide a different perspective.

    Poverty, addiction, unemployment, homelessness, mental illness...the list could go on...All are deserving of empathy, understanding and our charity. How we help individuals will be different of course, depending on individual circumstances. But no one deserves to be treated poorly.

    A few years ago I overheard a family member complaining loudly about the extension of unemployment benefits to all "these lazy people who won't work". I wondered if he remembered his words 2 years later when HE was laid off at the age of 57 and relied on unemployment benefits for survival. He only recently found work...

    My choices politically are mainly driven by the leaders with the most compassion for those who struggle in life the most. It makes me sick to listen to some of the mean-spirited rhetoric that spews from some of these candidates.

    I would add that I don't believe that many (if any!) would choose to be poor, addicted, homeless etc. How can we judge someone for this? Judgement serves no helpful purpose. These folks need our help and compassion, not our judgement.

    You have touched a nerve, Bob. Such an important topic!

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    1. I am loving the thoughtful and insightful comments this post is generating.

      Like tyour unemployment story, I am sure you have heard people complain about the evils of Medicare and socialized medicine. Yet, every one of them takes what is offered at 65 and is thankful.

      It is so easy to point a finger until that finger points back at you!

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  11. I think we can't solve the huge societal problems in one fell swoop.And there is rarely ONE action that fixes things or changes things.So, my strategy is to do some of the smaller things you mention,often: Volunteer in a food kitchen locally, donate once in a while, and generally MODELl kind behavior. Haters don't respond to much but we can slowly counter their influence by adding more love and respect to the world, in whatever circles we travel in.And we can vote for politicians who don't want to slash benefits to the already destiitute like troubled veterans, and handicapped children!

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    1. You are quite right: those who hate don't respond to much. All we can do is add some civility and respect where and when we can. But, it does seem like swimming upstream more often than it should.

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  12. There are many reasons people struggle economically. As individuals and society we need to offer opportunities that support people in becoming and remaining self sufficient. I have known many hard working individuals where finances are one step from poverty. A job loss, car repair, sick child or other unplanned item pushes a downward spiral. There are few options that provide short term assistance to help bridge the gap. Sometimes we all need a hand up.

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    1. The percentage of Americans living one paycheck away from disaster is alarmingly high. Some of them are over-extended and made bad choices. But, too many are in that situation through no fault of their own. I agree completely that sometimes all of us can use a hand up.

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    2. Bob, I think the "culture" of poverty idea is missing a few concepts generated by our structural economic shift since the 70's 1. Middle class opportunities are shrinking (as are working class opportunities) because wages are being suppressed. 2. Education is priced out of the reach of many or they are forced into a structure of 15-20 years of debt to repay educational loans (at rates far above market rate).

      I know that there is great value in helping others on a one-to-one basis. Check out Time Banks - which offer people a way to share their skills and talents based on time - not money. It is an amazing structure and of great value to many damaged by the shifting economy. This is a growing structure in the US.

      But we also need structural changes. We need political action to make education affordable. To stop the suppression of wages and benefits.

      I hope your readers (and you) will check out Robert Reich's documentary "Inequality for All". He breaks down the recent economic and political shifts into very easy to understand concepts - and gives us a number of doable strategies that can help alter the slide into a further unequal economy.

      I have faith that as we inform ourselves, we will understand the forces at play and be able to counter them. We have many examples in history of the "other as bad/evil/sub-human". It is a distraction that keeps us from focusing upon the real causes and fixing them.

      We have to focus on poverty as an economic issue - not a moral issue. We have to adopt the view that having many people and greater numbers of children in persistent poverty affects us all - and damages our collective quality of life.

      YesMagazine.org is a terrific resource. You fill find stories of people who don't blame nor shame, but help create change. It's all about finding solutions. I predict it will be inspirational to many of your readers.

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  13. I hired house cleaners for the first time last year. I would prefer hiring someone directly, but having gone through 4, I am now going with a service. The problem has been excessive absences without calling. It's made me think about being poor. Part of the problem of poverty is having an unpredictable life... It's day to day living, having dreams, but no achievable plan. The first step to success is showing up, but it is a lesson lost in the noise of every day living. I don't think I am hateful, just being real.

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    1. For many in that situation, unavailable or undependable transportation, a sick child, or other daily emergencies can easily through schedules and commitments off. While some suffer from never being taught the basic requirement of follow through and dependability, showing up isn't always easy.

      Your comment isn't hateful at all. I just think there are problems that may not always be obvious or visible.Thanks, Jane, for participating in what ha turned into a great discussion so far.

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    2. It's the not calling that is hard to excuse.

      Walk in my shoes story: I was at a discount dog shot clinic... Noisy, crowded, etc. A woman kept yelling at her 3kids who were running around, annoying everyone. Later we were in line and she said she had sole custody of her 3three year old grandkids. I said God bless you! She knew others judged her, but she was doing the best she could.

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  14. A local church has started a Jobs for Life Program to coach people to find and keep employment. “The philosophy behind Jobs for Life is that if someone has a job, he or she can then provide the basic necessities of food, clothing and shelter for themselves and their families.” One student commented recently, “I’ve got somebody rooting for me. My mentor is not just 99 percent but 100 percent behind me. This is the most powerful thing I’ve ever experienced. I’ve never had anyone showing they cared for me”. After graduating from Jobs for Life this individual is now employed.

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    1. Mentoring someone else can be an incredibly powerful tool. The program you mention sounds great. As most would agree, getting someone in the position to get and hold a job is vitally important. Thanks for a great idea and example.

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    2. Sounds like a great program. I am going to check is there is a local program that I can get involved with. Thanks!

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  15. An approach to raising consciousness among those who lack empathy is a 'poverty simulation' -- a game of sorts in which people experience just how much work it is to be poor and how difficult it is to get out of poverty. You can check online to see if anyone is running poverty simulations in your area; if not, maybe you could get your church to take this on. -Jean

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    1. Interesting. I have never heard of this approach. I have seen a few excellent documentaries in which someone tries to live on a minimum wage income. It is virtually impossible.

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  16. Herman Melville
    “Of all the preposterous assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well- warmed, and well-fed.”
    This statement is interesting as Melville said it over a hundred years ago. Nothing has changed.

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    1. The Moby Dock author had it right. Hypocrisy is live and well.

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  17. When I was an elementary teacher, my eyes were opened. There were students who appeared to have been born into poverty, but there were also those who came from homes that were going through unexpected financial crisis (due to job loss, death of a parent, etc.). The general public would not believe how many children are victims of poverty. Some "forget" to bring lunches; others don't have school supplies; and a few even need medical and dental care. Most teachers reach into their own pockets to try to help needy kids. Poverty is devastating--especially when it affects innocent children. If you or your readers know any teachers, ask them if they need donations for students. Thanks for this important post, Bob. We can make a difference in our world if we open our hearts.

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    1. That is a great idea, Pam. My mom was a teacher (paid and volunteer) for 40 years. So many times I remember her dipping into our family money to but something for a child who was without. She always said that is what a teacher does.

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    2. I saw a story on the local (Philly) news the other day about a teacher who started a 'go fund me' campaign to raise money for supplies she needed in her classroom. The school district gives each teacher a stipend of $100 for supplies, which barely covers the basics. Each year this teacher, and millions more I'm sure, use their own money to fill in the gaps. This teacher said she averages about $900 out of HER pocket and that's common throughout the school and district. We all know how little teachers make, especially in inner city schools.
      Well, she has raised over $2000 so far and is spreading the love throughout the school. Kids are giddy with simple things like colored pencils! Kills me how these teachers and their students are always left behind in city and state budgets. It's so damn wrong!
      Anyway, I think this could become a nationwide campaign of sorts. A GoFundMySchool campaign! I rarely get a request for someone's 'go fund me' without offering at least $10. Think how this could grow into a semi-solution for our education problem
      b

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  18. Wow Bob!! I'm glad I came to this post late as it allowed me to see all the comments and replies. There is truth in everything you and most of your commentors talk about. While spending 11 years cooking at a local soup kitchen I did come up close and personal to many who are homeless. Putting a face on poverty and homelessness is what it takes for it to become a personal reality.

    I am envious of you on the volume of your readers and especially those who will chime in with their experiences. Keep up the occasional posts in this arena but don't overdo it as I often do. Great Post....

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    1. Your experiences with the soup kitchen have been well documented over the years on your excellent blog. And, you are another who strongly supports the personal, one-to-one approach to attacking this problem. I am sensing a trend.

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  19. The trouble with simulation exercises is that psychologically one always know it is temporary, so while it might be an interesting exercise to try and live as the poor do, and while it might give insight, it doesn't touch the depths of despair or desparation that some of the poor experience. That said, sometimes at home I will "pretend" for a week or so that I have absolutely no money for groceries, and I pretend that I need to "get by" with what I have, which actually is a well stocked pantry of dried and canned foods, as well as a freezer full of "stuff." Still when I "pretend" I can't go out for fresh milk, bread, fruit, or vegetables, and have to "face" whatever is in the cupboard or buried in the freezer, it does remind me of those who don't even have cupboards or freezers. I asked a bankruptcy attorney once, "How do you deal with and help people day in and day out who sometimes have very negligently, carelessly, and sometimes intentionally "spent" their way freely into bankruptcy by living way outside their means. His answer was, "I don't look back at their lives; I just meet them where they are." As a individual though, I don't know where to try and make the best intervention--education, volunteering, monetary donations, tutoring, Laubach, helping stock a food bank, or just trying to vote for the correct people (!!). I did feel as a community college teacher (now retired) that I did help many students move their lives very successfully up the socio-economic ladder, especially female students who became nurses or other health care workers.

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    1. An excellent addition to our discussion, B.E. I love that quote from the attorney about meeting people where they are instead of looking back and judging past mistakes.

      Your suggestions center on the personal, "on the ground" ways to help with the problem of poverty and societal connection. I have a lot to think about.

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  20. Wow! For a man who has just experienced a cardiac event, you have forged right into the heart of this matter. Don't we all need to open our hearts? What is this disdain directed at the "poor"? Is it fear - fear that that there but for God's grace go I? It seems that as a society we have more compassion for an animal in need of help than for another human being. Was it Mother Theresa who said "feed one"? It is easy to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem so I do believe in choosing one - a hand up one at a time whether it's sharing home-made meals or mentoring or volunteering or just smiling, recognizing the humanity in us all. This can be done on an individual basis or as part of an organization through church, boys and girls clubs, Habitat for Humanity, food banks, soup kitchens. Poverty, addiction, unemployment, homelessness, mental illness all go hand-in-hand. Having a job doesn't guarantee adequate food, clothing and shelter as evidenced by the working poor. And then there are the poor in spirit. Growing up, we were "poor" by today's standards, living a subsistence lifestyle on a farm. How things have changed in this capitalistic world.

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    1. A good example of the point you make: the media frenzy over the shooting of a lion in Africa at the same time another mass shooting occurred. While the killing of the animal was despicable and should prompt charges against the people involved, that focus obscured a much greater human tragedy.

      Did my heart problem stimulate my "heart" response? Maybe. I know I have been more emotional and introspective over the past few weeks.

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  21. I have a couple of thoughts. Regarding the hateful people, they are to be ignored. These hateful people are not capable of change. Regarding the poor on the streets, our community leaders tell us that there are resources in the community to care for the poor; we should support these community resources. We're also told that those with cardboard signs requesting donations are probably con artists.

    In summary, don't let your emotions lead you to do something dumb.

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    1. The cardboard sign holders are likely using that as a way of making a living. That is their "job." While they play on our guilt and uneasiness in the face of their pleas, I am not sure that is a bad thing. Would I prefer a cardholder got a "regular" job. Sure. But, are they able to? Mental and physical limitations, a past history of jail time, or some other issue might prevent them from finding a more traditional way of supporting themselves. I guess I would rather they supported themselves that way than just lying in doorways or taking beds in homeless shelters.

      I completely agree with your ignore the hateful people. They are not going to change, regardless of what I or others do.

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  22. I was taking a friend to an all-day medical appointment yesterday so I also came late to this thread. Thank you, Bob, for an awesome post! Among the useful things you and your great readers reminded me was that my temptation to yell BACK at the haters, often with hate! accomplishes absolutely nothing & starts another negative cycle. I have a friend who says, "I fight my inclination to be bigoted towards bigots!" and I try to keep that in mind as I see where I can contribute the most help to individuals and not acknowledge the negativity. SO much easier said than done some days!

    It seems to me education is important; achievable hope for folks is also important. The students (and workers) I've talked to who see a chance for a better life within reach seem much better insulated, as a group, against drugs, alcohol & other defeating problems. While that is not the only answer for everyone, it seems to create resilience in some people so that they can move forward through amazing challenges.

    I do think someday, as a society, we will be judged harshly for our mediocre treatment of the less fortunate in our midst, from those suffering with mental illness to a seemingly pervasive feeling that "I made it, those *&(&(^ folks can also make it, if they weren't lazy" -- without acknowledging a strong education system, or mentors or other "miracles" the helped an individual "pull him/herself up by bootstraps" and without admitting that some of those safety nets are now gone.

    pam

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    1. Your first paragraph reminds me of the absurdity of watching a parent tell a child not to hit someone else, while spanking the child.

      I just read that the Pope is going to address the U.S. Congress soon on the issue of poverty and the poor. I shudder to think what some of the news commentators and TV talking heads will have to say about this gentle man and his attempts to reinforce the message of Jesus and love for all.

      We will be judged at some point. Your comment, which is an important one, is we are not to do that judging. It doesn't work.

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  23. I am sorry that you are experiencing this sort of thing. I know where your heart is so this must be hard for you. In the "red State" where we live I very rarely hear that sort of comment (although we have often been accused of harboring those feelings). I don't even hear that from most politicians/presidential candidates, regardless of party. (except maybe from that one that most of us try in vain to ignore). Where are you hearing all of this? Talking heads? I'm not much into talking heads, but when I do watch, I don't hear that sort of comment. Is it because abuse of the system is pointed out? Some programs are much more abused than others. The fact that abuse and waste exists does not make a program bad. It just means that it is improperly administered. Should we ignore that? There are, of course, differences of opinions on how to best help the poor and sometimes those differences can be misinterpreted. Both sides have something to contribute, but neither has ideas that work well alone. If the two political parties could put their hatred for one another aside and put their heads together we could find solutions to our problems. I believe most people want that. Maybe you should call on your readers for ideas on how to solve the problem of poverty in this country, instead of how to change hearts. That could be your next book. Maybe that is what you are called to do.

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    1. Solutions are possible, but not until our society is not split as badly as it is now. Labeling others and viewing a very complex world only in shades of black and white are not approaches that lessen tensions and build bonds.

      There are have some tremendous comments on this post for me to ponder. One thing seems clear: My involvement would be most productive in either a one-to-one relationship or in a situation where I am personally interacting with folks who are struggling. Donating money is important but is too distant from the day-to-day issues to feel like anything is being accomplished.

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  24. Bob--welcome back! I was thinking about this subject a few months ago after I saw Linda Tirado interviewed on Bill Maher's show. She wrote a book called "Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America." The book is the result of an essay she posted on-line addressing questions that many people ask of the poor: Why do poor people have children? Why do they smoke? Why do they not save money? That type of thing. Her essay was wonderful and eye-opening. It went viral and she was approached by a publisher to expand the essay into a book. She went from poor to successful author practically overnight. She's a wonderful writer, and I learned so much about the day-to-day struggles that so many people face who are just one car breakdown away from poverty. You often hear that it's about education--but we really need to educate ourselves too.

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    1. I think your last sentence holds one of the keys to the solution: " You often hear that it's about education--but we really need to educate ourselves too."

      The questions Linda cites are powerful indicators of our lack of understanding and empathy. Why do the poor have children?....Really?

      Glad to see you on these pages again, Syd.

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  25. I volunteered for a long time with a wonderful organization that provided food and clothing on an as needed bases and some emergency assistance, but for those who were physically and mentally capable of becoming self sufficient they provided so much more. They provided instruction on budgeting, office/computer skills, literacy, English as a second language, resume writing, interviewing, job searching, information on community resources, child care, mental health, and most of all they provided on going encouragement. Some people were just experiencing a bump in the road, others were homeless and their very few possessions has been stolen. One woman told me that her goal was that by that time next year she would be sitting on my side of the desk. I knew of a similar organization that added to the mix a spiritual aspect, but only if the person requested it. Some people just wanted you to pray with them. These are local organizations, but maybe you could find one like that. I think that might be something you would like..

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    1. Yes, that would be right up my alley. Thanks, Judy.

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  26. Owned a retail business in a small community for many years. On more occasions than I like to remember we were generous to the needy. In just about every instance it turned out bad for us. Those who had received our monies turned on us. Then I came across a saying Attributed to Mark Twain.
    "If you feed a dog, it will never bite you. And there is the difference between a man and a dog"
    Throwing money is not the answer. Programs like the "Jobs for Life" might be.

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    1. What do you mean those who received monies turned on you? Physically, economically.....?

      I agree that throwing money at a problem doesn't fix it, though there are times when money is what keeps a family from starving or being evicted or suffering unnecessarily from a medical problem. I think the importance is targeted giving versus simply throwing money in a pot.

      I certainly agree the "Jobs for Life" program noted above by a reader is a tremendous idea.

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    2. Long term customers never came back after we helped them out.

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  27. Trying to climb out of poverty can be difficult. Investing when you are young is very important as you have time on your side as you have time for retirement funds to build up. Of course the problem is you need some disposable income to be able to do this.

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    1. Starting at a young age is one of the most important steps someone can take. But, as you accurately note, without a livable wage that becomes a wish that cannot be fulfilled.

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  28. I grew up poor, but graduated from high school, went to junior college and took technical training..Married at 26 to a union fellow who worked his whole life, our only is a college graduate..My hubs sisters kids never went to college they have suffered a lot married and divorced, child support etc..It is hard on them but they did not want to go to college or technical school..I don't understand why a person cannot see that a college education or technical training is what a high school education (diploma) used to be in our society and masters degrees are sometimes required for entry level positions..No education or technical training no jobs whatsoever and many are losing their jobs with many years of work experience and education because the USA is nuts about ageism and female parity etc..How can a person work if your are approaching 50 and they want to hire a much younger person who has a college degree and you worked from high school on, they can pay them less and get a young person to do a lot for less money!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Many are suffering and if one is poor many don't care at all I have seen it and it is ugly and horrible, the rich are getting so rich and the poor and near poor are suffering a lot! I worked for over 30 years and got a pension and we get our social security too, but really we are not rich at all and help at food pantries and the domestic violence place..

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    1. Thank you for a look at your personal story and the real costs of an insufficient education.I am glad you point out that technical training is a viable option for many. Not everyone needs a college education to succeed, but a high school diploma alone just isn't going to be enough in the majority of cases.

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