Monday, January 23, 2012

Where I sit

So they sat down with him upon the ground seven days and seven nights, and none spake a word unto him: for they saw that his grief was very great. (Job 2:13)

I have been listening some to the contending politicians. Some are doing a lot of talk about people in need. What they are saying is not very thoughtful or insightful  By that I mean that they are not thinking deeply about what they say and they are speaking on things into which they have little personal insight. How do I know this? Because I have said some of the same things in the same way.

Little did I know - back when I was pontificating on it - that poverty and need is not a stereotype. There is no stereotype for those conditions. There are stereotypes for actions and consequences, but not for conditions and circumstances.

I am black and female, on food stamps and medicaid. Sounds like a what some would call a stereotypical situation until you think more about how I got here and have some insight into how it affects me.

I was previously of a different "stereotype." A woman in a solid family, working in skilled fields of employment -  as a corporate trainer for a customs broker, then as a real estate clerk, then as a specialist in a state unemployment office. Yes, the irony. I owned an average home (nothing fancy, but not shabby, and in a very decent neighborhood), drove an average car, had the average "working stiff" lifestyle. I never considered myself as being financially poor, but realized that I was not upper middle-class or above and was content with that. I have no criminal history - in fact, I had a Homeland Security/FBI clearance for my brokerage employment - and my neighbors felt safe living near me. I was liked and respected.

That was about six years ago.

Understand, please, that living does not always go as we plan. Things happen that you don't expect to. Economies stumble, families lose members, hasty decisions turn out badly, people lie to each other. One thing leads to another - another same sort of thing, another good or better thing, or another bad or worse thing.

In my case, I have been led to where I lost a house, finances crashed badly, emotional health suffered, then physical health followed.

Here I am. Black. Female. On food stamps. On medical aid.

I am not a statistic or a stereotype. I am a person trying to heal and get back to a better place in life.

Please don't talk about me as if I have a color-coded, bar-scanned tag plastered across my forehead. Don't try to popularize your opinions - to win votes or friends or an argument around the office - by labeling my situation. You might be right here where I am someday. If not you then maybe your son, daughter or other loved one.

In the meantime, don't wait to be where I am to gain compassion.

I am taking action to get better and to get out of this situation. That's really all anyone else needs to care about.