Saturday, October 6, 2012
“The $50 Lesson”
I keep seeing people share this story and it has been bothering me for weeks. It really touches my soul and really makes me uncomfortable to read. Greg keeps asking me why I let things like this get me so upset. To be honest, I am not sure why it bothers me so much, but it just does. It makes me sad and it makes me frustrated to think that people who think this way and may know I am not a Republican feel that I somehow have a freeloading, no work ethic philosophy or mentality. It really hurts, me, it does. I think anyone that knows me would say that I am a very hard worker. That I really don't take things for granted and that I care dearly about my friends and family. I like to think they think I am a good person.
I think that this bothers me so much is because it is basically taking a shot at homeless people. Seriously? Homeless people. I understand this person was looking for a way to show and embody the "Republican Party" but to make this small girl somehow walk away thinking that her parents do not believe people should work hard, is just awful. Why would you ever do that to your friends. Why would you ever use the plight of others as a way to have a zinger moment about your friends' politics? Really??
So, before I lay out my questions, I guess here is what I keep seeing getting passed around and posted.
First, here it is:
“The $50 Lesson: I recently asked my friends' little girl what she wanted to be when she grows up. She said she wanted to be President some day. Both of her parents, liberal Democrats, were standing there, so I asked her, 'If you were President what would be the first thing you would do?' She replied, 'I'd give food and houses to all the homeless people.' Her parents beamed with pride. "Wow...what a worthy goal.' I told her, 'But you don't have to wait until you're President to do that. You can come over to my house and mow the lawn, pull weeds, and sweep my yard, and I'll pay you $50. Then I'll take you over to the grocery store where the homeless guy hangs out, and you can give him the $50 to use toward food and a new house. She thought that over for a few seconds, then she looked me straight in the eye and asked, ' Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, Why doesn't the homeless guy come over and do the work, and you can just pay him the $50? ' I said, 'Welcome to the Republican Party.' Her parents still aren't speaking to me.”
So, after shaking a bit out of frustrating and getting teary a bit because it really bothered me and then trying to find a t.v. show to watch to get my mind off of it and then finally putting on "Elf" because that usually makes me smile, after so long of nothing working (food didn't even work), I decided I just needed to bitch about it all a bit.
1) I think any “liberal democrat” parent whose watched this unfold would make it more of a teachable moment and wouldn’t "not speak to their friends” and not be threatened by this “argument” as I am not sure what the argument is (even if it was a low zinger that preyed upon a homeless man), it certainly wouldn’t end there and the entire “Welcome to the Republican Party” statement is just ridiculous, seriously??
2)Finding a job is a bit challenging regardless already, if you are truly homeless and without a permanent address--makes job applications and the entire interview process a bit awkward. If you are homeless you also may not have access to a suit, or a shaving kit and shower, unless you are able to find space in one of our already overcrowded shelters. Not to mention, your work history probably has big holes in it, often a red flag for employers. References may be hard to find and out of date, I could go on and on....you also, you know, don't have a home, a safe place to live, a nice bed to sleep in. If you did get a job, it may make a good night's sleep and the ability to concentrate the next day a bit challenging
3) I am not sure why the assumption is that democrats don't want people to work. I think that is just a ridiculous statement
4) I hardly find it believable that these two people would hire a homeless man to make some money, how many people have you passed that held signs saying "will work for food money, etc,” have you ever offered to hire them for odd jobs around your house, I highly doubt it. So, if the little girl went to the store and said she had $50 worth of work for him and he showed up to do it, what would they have actually done? I bet if they were approaching by a homeless man offering work, they either ignore him, or if nothing else tell him to leave them alone.
5) There are not enough jobs for those who aren’t homeless (never have been), I find it hard to believe that you can blame those that are homeless for being homeless and not having work.
I could go on and on and I am sure if I slept on it, I would have more eloquent statements, but in an effort to ensure I can maybe sleep tonight and not be bothered by all of this, I wanted to get some of this off of my chest.
I think what I would say to my daughter after the comment about the Republican Party is that you really never know where your life may take you, that she is very thoughtful for thinking of this man during his difficult time and that as hard working family we honor work, but that we also understand that things happen. I would then turn to my friend and say, so nice of you to offer, we will go down to the store and offer him $50 to come and rake your leaves and clean. And watch her jaw drop. Or better yet, make the offer and just drop him off that same day and see how she reacts.
I really just don't get this, at all. I am all for working hard and a good work ethic, heck, I have been working since I could legally and babysitting way before then, I just cannot imagine the conversation ever actually stopping there. It is somehow making the argument that only Republicans think people should work for themselves and only Republicans work hard??? The difference, then, I guess is that as a “liberal democrat” I am willing to support organizations, non-profits and professionals who are out there every day trying to get the homeless the services they need to help them find work, find a safe place to stay and get back on their feet and would be proud of my daughter for her empathy. And I also believe in the importance of safety nets that could possible help someone from becoming homeless in the first place. Not everyone has caring friends and family that could take them in, in this situation. Some people have mental health issues, or medical issues and do not have the access to medical care that makes it possible for them to function in the working/professional world. Some people fall on hard times and even with the safety nets in place it is not enough to save from the streets. Of course this also assumes that homeless people have no dignity. It just angers me.
I am not naive, I am sure there are some people out there that are homeless and that beg for money and that may use that money for alcohol, cigarettes or drugs. Just like all those posts I see about people on food stamps or unemployment using their money to purchase iPhones, or whatever. I have no doubt there are some people that do "abuse the system" and take advantage of others. Hell, I had an apple thrown at my head by a homeless person. I see homeless people every day. On the streets, on the subways, on subway grates in the winter. I see people shivering, I see people wandering and I see people crying, every day. I find it nearly impossible to believe that any of them are choosing to be homeless. I find it hard to believe that any of them wouldn't work for a living, if they had that opportunity. Capitalism is founded on the need for winners and losers. We cannot set up a society like this and then be pissed and angry because there are "losers." I am sorry.
I see homeless people each and every day, every season, and during rain, wind and snow. I see them huddled under awnings, I see them refusing to part with their animals during the winter (shelters don't take animals). I see that they are real people, they are humans, they have souls like you and I. There is nothing, other than luck really, that makes it possible for me to be where I am right here and right now. I could have just as easily been born in a 3rd world country, or been born into a life where I ended up homeless. I cannot even imagine. It is why this story bothers my heart so much. To teach a child from such a young age that it is obviously that person's fault they are homeless, is just wrong. They have no idea why that person is homeless, none at all.
For those of you that have visited me, you may have been with me when I gave food or money to Joseph and Shorty http://articles.nydailynews.com/2010-11-20/entertainment/27081756_1_shorty-homeless-population-shopping-cart for anyone who may be interested
I understand this is just a story and maybe I am taking it too literally, but it is bothering me so I just wanted to say something. I had told myself I wasn't going to blog for awhile because it gets me pretty fired up and is really raw and emotional for me. I am not sure I have ever felt like I do now during the writing of a blog. Just hoping that if this conversation ever happens with children out there, parents on both sides will think it through a bit more before letting it end like it did in this scenario.
Maybe I am missing something? I feel like until you have walked a mile in someone else’s shoes it makes it very hard to judge them and what they are going through. Life is hard for everyone and congratulations you have a home, but I am sorry it doesn’t make you better than anyone. Am I missing something?? I am just not sure how there is any empathy here and again feel a bit silly that I am so bothered by something. It just hurts my heart to know that people used the plight of a homeless man to try and teach the ways of the Republican Party... I would have preferred if they used the story in a different way to pass along the teachings of Jesus....hurts my heart.....
and that's all she wrote....
I literally just exhaled after posting this...has been bothering me for awhile.....