Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Face of Poverty

I had a conversation the other day with someone about the way people judge others.  It is going to happen, I know that it is a natural thing that occurs, it's never going to end.  However, I sometimes wonder what the result of judging could cause.

This particular conversation was about people online and in person judging those that are on public assistance.  I'm not just talking about food stamps but also state provided healthcare.  So many people assume that the people receiving these benefits are lazy, don't work, drug-addicted, horrible people.  Now, I understand that, yes, there are those that are all of these things and they take advantage of the system.  They do not represent the entire population of those utilizing public assistance. 

The Monkey Do Project posted this picture and it really got me thinking about how much people do really judge.
There are people out there that still believe that those living in poverty are dirty, don't have name brand clothing or shoes, missing teeth, etc. Think again.  Your neighbor could be living in poverty.  Your sister, cousin or uncle could be living in poverty.  Those living in poverty may still both be working, drive nice cars and live in your average cookie cutter home.  They are just getting by. They are struggling to make ends meet.  They are wondering which bill is more important to pay...the electric bill or the mortgage. 
They may be carrying a Coach bag and wearing Nike shoes or wearing pretty dresses or name brand jeans.  They may be using these things that they were able to buy when they had money, before he or she lost her job, before their cost of health insurance went through the roof and their income drastically changed. 
They may be wearing these things or portraying this image because they don't want you to know that they just don't make enough money to pay the bills and put food on the table to feed their kids.  They may be doing this so that they aren't judged by everyone who sees them pull out that food stamps card. 
There is such a horrible stigma that comes with being on public assistance and I can imagine that thousands of people, familes, are struggling to just scrape by because they fear what others will think of them.  They will live with no gas for heat, the bare minimum of food to keep just full enough to live and pray for a miracle to save them.  All of this because others will judge them. 
Sadly, we live in the times of judgement by our peers, living beyond our means to keep up with the Jones' and looking down upon those that don't have what we do. 
The face of poverty is me, you and everyone else out there.  We just don't always see it because we are hidden behind the mask of self-righteousness. 
I encourage and challenge everyone to lift up those that need it, to donate when you can and to volunteer in an environment that serves those less fortunate. 
I got involved with The Monkey Do Project because they are doing just that.  They are trying to improve lives, keep food in children's bellies and keep families warm at night.