I’m feeling down today and oh, so frustrated with people who want to blame misfortune on the victim for making the wrong “choice,” or for being an undocumented immigrant and collecting “benefits” (which they don’t, by the way), and assuming all poor people are lazy.
What the hell is wrong with you people? My son didn’t choose to be born with a birth defect that would leave him vulnerable to cancer. He didn’t choose to have insurance companies refuse to sell him a policy at any cost. He didn’t choose to have doctors deny him care. He didn’t choose to get cancer.
I am in the six weeks between when we found out my son was dying six years ago and when he died. I relive his final days and his death every year at this time and my patience with ignorance, selfishness and greed is pretty thin right now.
I see a lot of poor people who work two jobs and still can’t make ends meet because it costs about 2 1/2 times minimum wage to live even the simplest life here. That simple life doesn’t include cable TV, movies, eating out, gym memberships, mocha lattes and other things that middle-class people don’t even think about spending money on.
When you see a poor person with a cell phone and complain, what you’re saying is that low-income or homeless people don’t even deserve the basic capability to be in touch with the rest of the world.
What you’re saying is that you don’t care about that person’s story; you’re going to pass judgment based on your own sheltered and fortunate life.
You’re likely no more than six months away from homelessness yourself.
Let’s say your job moves overseas. Now you’re left with unemployment compensation that won’t even cover your mortgage and you can’t afford COBRA. So, what happens when you get an upper respiratory infection? You go to the ER and walk out with a prescription for antibiotics, a big bill and no follow-up care.
If that first round of antibiotics doesn’t work, you can go back to the ER and get another big bill, which you can’t pay because your unemployment is about to run out, and another prescription for an even more expensive antibiotic.
You haven’t been able to find another job except for part-time at a garden center, at minimum wage, which is even less money than your unemployment.
Now you’re 90 days behind on your mortgage and you’re selling some of your belongings to try and keep the house. You get a second part-time job and look for a third, but it just isn’t enough.
You’re still sick, but you can’t go back to the ER because you can’t afford whatever prescription the doctor writes for you. So you just hope you’ll get better.
Eventually, you run out of things to sell and the bank runs out of patience. You can stay with family members for awhile, but the welcome wears out eventually.
Or let’s say you have bipolar disorder. You try to keep things on an even keel, but sometimes the medications become ineffective and you just can’t function in a job because that’s too much stress for you to endure.
You lose your job and while waiting to be approved for disability, you also lose your home.
Or let’s say you develop type 2 diabetes, not because you’re a glutton but because it runs in your family. Your job doesn’t come with insurance so you can’t afford the supplies you need to monitor your blood glucose.
You decide to exercise and try to eat right. But diabetes affects every system in your body, especially when you can’t monitor and control your blood glucose levels, and you don’t know your blood pressure is climbing through the roof. You have a stroke and are left incapacitated. Or your kidneys fail and you need dialysis. Or you lose your eyesight.
Tell me where the “choices” are in these scenarios. Tell me about “personal responsibility.”
Have you ever tried to survive on less than $1,000 a month? That’s what someone on disability has to do.
Have you ever tried to eat for $2.50 a day? That’s what someone on food stamps has to do, and most of the people who get food stamps are working people and their children.
Have you ever waited for a bus in freezing rain because you can’t afford a car?
Let’s talk about responsibility — our responsibility as human beings.
The Old Testament prophets talked about justice and compassion. In the New Testament, Jesus condemned people who refused to help people in need. Nowhere did he say, “I got mine, get your own.”
I am starting to un-friend people who post these things on Facebook. I no longer want to be friends with people who would allow others to suffer and even die out of selfishness and greed.
Don’t tell me you’re compassionate and then post something that calls poor people lazy or says they’re the victims of their own bad choices.
People don’t choose to be poor and sick and hungry. They don’t choose to work at jobs that don’t pay them enough to survive.
And don’t tell me I’m judging you unfairly; I am not. If you think poor people should suffer and not get help, you are not compassionate, and I’m tired of hearing from you.