How Do You Really Feel About the Poor?

Get real! #fb I DARE YOU

  • Are people without homes lazy?
  • Are they bad?
  • Is it their own fault?
  • Should they have known better  before having kids that they couldn’t afford?
  • Did they drink themselves to the street?
  • Shouldn’t their families be taking them in?
  • Did God shun them and punish them with homelessness?

Did it freak you out that I actually wrote that here?

It’s okay. Stop squinting at the list and really read it and admit to the opinions you may have (perhaps even secretly). This is a safe place.

We all have our views of the “good” and “bad” poor. It is even written into the laws in England; in the Poor Laws. Vagabonds and Beggars Act 1495 was one of the first laws and others like it remained in effect until after World War 2.

The City of New York would have enjoyed this one: In 1495, Parliament passed a statute ordering officials to seize “[a]ll such vagabonds, idle and suspected persons living suspiciously and then so taken and set in stocks, there to remain by the space of three days and three nights to have none other sustenance but bread and water, and there after the said three days and three nights, to be had out and set at large and then to be commanded to avoid the town.” You know – if they walk away, they were never really here or in need.

From there the laws progressed to whipping the poor, branding them with a “V”, hanging them, poking holes in their ears and simply killing them without sorting the professional beggar from the person who simply could not find work. Eventually came the work houses and poor houses and taking infants from poor and homeless mothers (A fear my clients still have in The United States in 2010), and anyone who accessed services for the poor was kept from voting.

♥♥ Confessions of a Social Worker ♥♥

But here in 2010 in the United States of America I know so many people who wish we had these “Poor Laws” in effect. And I admit –

When I am sitting with a woman who has had 5 children taken from her by Children and Family Services and she is clearly high on drugs while pregnant with her 6th child – I have moments of anger and loathing.

When a client tells me that because she is homeless she “DESERVES” to be fed and given a bed and clothing and should not have to look for work or go to school – my resolve dissolves a little

When a woman tells me she isn’t looking for work because she is using the time to find a new MAN – and questioning why I won’t provide child care for that endeavor – I feel a little ill.

BUT: As people are running out of Unemployment Benefits and coming to my office ashamed and broken and scared – I am grateful that there are systems and programs in place to help them because they are helping themselves.

I REALLY FEEL that everything changes and sometimes we get dumped on our faces. The Character defining moment is what we do next and who we turn to. Do we stay down? Do we give up? Are we mad and blame others for our misfortunes – or do we take a little bit of the Book of Job and employ faith and patience while we build ourselves back up to more than we were before. I think there is no shame in asking for help – and there is no shame in trying to do it on your own.  Yoda was wrong- there is a “Try” and a “Not Try”. (OMG, yes, that was a Star Wars reference). I will help you and respect you if you TRY – without regard to how you got to where we are starting from. But, if you simply give up and don’t try; well, I will have a hard time forgiving you and I won’t want to work any harder than you are working to make your life better (but I will, because that is who I am).

So tell me – How do YOU really feel? Does it make a difference in if you donate to a charity or help out a friend in need?

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