We all want to feel self-reliant, because the thought of being weak or victimized can be terrifying. To maintain the charade of an “I built this” life, it’s often necessary to block out information reminding us that we all need help sometimes.
If I don’t have time or resources to help anybody but myself, it means everybody else probably feels the same. I don’t want to have to rely on them. Pride calls it by another name, and says I don’t want to be a ‘charity case.’
To maintain the Man-As-Island fabricated reality, we have to close off compassion, which conveniently makes it much easier to judge those who find themselves in situations of suffering.
Suffering great enough to overcome pride, and ask for help.
I saw it in those who judged women who told personal accountings of traumatic sexual harassment by Bob Filner, dismissing their lived experiences. To acknowledge these adult women were injured means we’re all vulnerable to being mistreated, and that’s too heavy a burden to bear.
It’s consistent with a culture of casually slutshaming teenage rape victims, some of whom go on to take their own lives. “What was she wearing?” “Was she drinking?” “A shame, but really. She should have known better. Her parents should have raised her right.”
We live in a land of plenty, so it’s easy to pretend the nutritional lifeline of food stamps/SNAP isn’t necessary. Maybe we feel generous and give to charity around the holidays, and assume the soup kitchens, churches and nonprofit groups won’t let any Americans (including the undocumented) starve. But some think a handout isn’t a hand up; it’s enabling laziness.
“Not on my dime! I planned ahead.”
Distrust seeps in to the temporarily self-sustaining, insular life. Starving kids? Blame the parents. They shouldn’t have had sex in the first place if they weren’t prepared for the consequences. Burning sulfur damnation! is all too easy a condemnation.
A human life that is consumed with seeking basic means of survival is somehow more easily dehumanized.
Shrug. Not my problem.
Never mind data that ties poor nutrition to poor school (and work) performance, and the fact that the better educated and highly performing our society, the better off we all are.
The less likely our prisons are to be filled beyond capacity.
When emotions and blame are driving the dialogue, facts don’t matter. The wall is up; 8.5 million American women, children and infants have been judged and condemned to the hunger they justly deserve in a holier-than-thou political ploy.
The least of these are a bargaining chip in partisan politics.
Seeing the hunger in their children’s faces while tucking them in at night is appropriate punishment for their parents for their laziness and lack of education and preparedness, right?
Everyone has a story. It’s not for me to decide for other people what they should’ve done at critical life junctures. I didn’t create the prior educational and social safety net flaws, nor this current economic situation wherein people with full time or several part time jobs can’t ever get enough to eat and assuredly keep roofs over their heads.
I know my own life story and the devastating combinations of occasional poor choices plus chance misfortune, and I also know times of serendipitous good fortune meeting preparedness that lifted me out. The rain falls on the just and the unjust.
Heaping shame and perpetuating debilitating hunger will not fix what ails our society. We need to flip the argument on its head, and invest in our children and their parents.
Compassion is stronger than judgment, and, always, in agreement with the sage Maya Angelou:
Thank you Sara Long time no hear from. We all live busy lives. Has it always been thus? were the cave-persons overwhelmed with cares also? There are, after all, 7 billion of us out there. How can it then be otherwise? And how cluttered would a life be it we tried to cover all the 7 billion bases (so to speak)? Harry