Poor people are…(fill in the blanks)
How would you “fill in the blanks”? I will share my answers in a moment.
I want to begin this post by letting you know that I grew up fairly well-off financially – especially for the small town in which I was raised. My parents were both teachers and while we struggled a bit in the early years, financially speaking our situation got better pretty quickly.
By many standards, the house where I grew up was nice; the neighborhood was filled primarily with college-educated, fairly affluent citizens.
I started my college career in 1989. I graduated in 1994 having studied a pre-med curriculum. My intent was to go on to medical school, and part of the reason for me doing so was the money and prestige that comes with that place in society. I didn’t make it to medical school.
Know what? I’m glad I didn’t. Prestige, power, and dollars can be a pitfall for some. I know they were for me. And, they all led to one combined thought, feeling, and attitude: “I’m better than you are.”
Shrugging that superiority complex has been a long, difficult process. I thank numerous people for helping me along the way — too many people to count. I also thank my disorder. Without it, I would most likely be a very different person, a person that today’s version of me would have trouble looking at in the mirror.
One of the best things to come out of my schizophrenia experience can be summed up in one sentence: I’m not important.
Maybe a more politically correct sentence would be: I’m no more important than anyone else. And, even when I had money, I was no important than anyone else.
That is one very important lesson that I have learned by living poor.
So, here are my “fill in the blanks,” kind of a before and after snapshot:
Poor people are – lazy, dirty, needy, unworthy of respect, less important, dangerous
Poor people are – not necessarily lazy or dirty, not always needy*, definitely worthy of respect, equally as important as anyone else, humble, oftentimes brutally honest, community-driven (we tend to take care of each other), no more dangerous than the rest of the population, just trying to survive like most everyone else
*I put this asterisk after “not always needy,” because some poor people are in fact needy. However, that isn’t always our fault. Sometimes, due to disability or societal constraints and discrimination, we don’t get that lucrative job or that well-deserved promotion. Besides, when it comes to “needy,” can you say “corporate welfare”?
In closing, many good things have happened to me because I am financially poor. I have definitely seen another side of life. And, this experience has made me richer than I have ever imagined I would be.
Hope you enjoyed this weekend’s offering and that you are well.
Take care and best wishes…