Posted by: CJ | October 26, 2012

The trampled upon

A couple days ago a friend talked about how poor he was growing up. Which was tragic to listen to and all…….it’s just that his notion of poor had me shedding crocodile tears. Being from a socialist nanny-state, everyone in his family had basic healthcare for free, and he graduated from college with essentially no debt. Despite his parents having only a high school diploma, his family highly valued education and hard work. They also owned their own house–small and dilapidated though it was–in a very well-to-do area, with very good schools, in a very large city. This friend’s high school peers went on to become doctors, lawyers, accountants, and scientists. His claim for being poor was based pretty much entirely on his family’s yearly income and his parents’ lack of education.

But this compares to my notion of what it means to “be poor”. It includes not only a family with low income, and parents with low education, but also lousy schools, lousy health care, broken families, peers no better off than you are, a community that’s largely without resources or ambition, utter cluelessness about the concrete steps to take to set oneself up for success later in life, and a state apparatus that’s largely indifferent or hostile to the plight of the community and individuals within it. In comparison, my friend’s notion of “being poor” is really something of a cruel joke.

Unfortunately, having heard such arguments from friends in college before, I was somewhat brusque in brushing off this particular friend’s sob story. Though honestly I’m not sure if listening more intently to things I think are BS is a life-skill I desperately need to improve.



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