From time to time I get requests to do an Agree or Disagree topic. This is one of those times.
The person who submitted had an interesting experience. On the Olds Buy and Sell Facebook Page it said this;
“ISO: free dictionaries. This Christmas season I would like to collect dictionaries to give away to low income families in hopes that it might better them and that they will be able to secure better jobs enabling them afford luxuries in life without handouts. Please message me with any free dictionaries you may have. Also, self help books on the subject of helping yourself succeed would also be appreciated.
The person was offended. I’m going to let you read their perspective that they messaged me.
There is a fb page up here thats a buy and sell. And with over 10k members it gets used as a quick way to get info out and ask for help on many things.
The post that I sent you ended up causing a lot of anger and hurt feelings for what it implied. For me personally and others that are low income to imply that a dictionary and a self help book is all that separates us from having a high paying job and to buy luxuries in life without a hand out to do it blows my mind.
I am college educated and worked white collar jobs until I got sick and had a stroke at the age of 35. I had my first job at age 13. So I’m on AISH and that wasn’t easy. I had to fight to get it in first place and second it was a huge blow to my ego that boom thats it no more work. My body and health control every aspect of my life. Would I love to be out there working a 40 hour week bitching about my job absolutely. But reality is i cant so instead on the days I’m able to i volunteer. I have a full life and everything i need. One of The big thing i learned is that its not luxury items that make my life worthwhile or have meaning. By not being able to afford the luxury items or going on lavish holidays and eating in posh restaurants I’ve learned that as nice as all that would be it doesn’t define me. It’s other people who have without knowing me decided to define me by their expectations of what success and value are.
So for someone to say my life isn’t full and I need a dictionary and self help book to achieve that shows a complete lack of knowledge of what life is like on government funding. To assume that every low income person is uneducated, can’t understand language or vocabulary and is unmotivated is ridiculous. I knew a man who fled with his family from El Salvador that was an engineer that ended up working in a parking lot. That man had more knowledge in his pinky then most people.
If people really want to help low income people there are much better less insulting ways to go about it. Its the age old argument for having affordable housing, daycare, education, jobs that pay a living salary. It’s just another form of stereotyping and ignorance.
Then there are the few people that everyone hears about or a friend of a friend knows thats using AISH or EI fraudulently. Those are the ones that the rest of us are judged by. I can understand coming home from a long hard day at work and seeing someone who you know is low income carrying a case of beer and a carton of smokes and just being pissed off that there goes your hard earned taxes at work. I for one would 100% support a caveat that if you are on government funding you automatically have to go for random drug and alcohol tests for the length of time your taking tax payers money. If you fail that’s it you lose your funding. Is it harsh..yes.. But I think it would be fair. That money should not be there for those uses. It’s there to help you live and provide the necessities of life not to pay for your habits. Some people would say the government has no right to tell me what I can and can’t do with my money. I think that changes once you start taking and living off of tax payers money. I think it would be one way to curtail misuse of the money and for those with addiction problems to maybe get help. But that’s a million discussions all wrapped up in one very hot topic.
Going back to that post that started all my ramblings haha. There are more programs out there to help, educate, support then you can shake a stick at. Low income people don’t need dictionaries and self help books they need a little understanding. Just because a person doesn’t look sick doesn’t mean that its not taking all their energy just to be there. Or because they don’t use huge words that they are illiterate. Or because they work a blue collar job or can’t work that they don’t have the knowledge and skills to do something else. I don’t care what color your collar is I care about the person wearing it. Ahhh I could go on for days about how trying to pigeon hole people is such a ridiculous thing to do. We all have our stories and how we got to be where we are today. We all have dreams for a perfect life as we see it. My dream as a little girl sure wasn’t to be unable to work, sick and have a brain injury. My fairy tale didn’t come true so I just had to rewrite it and keep fighting everyday with what I do have to make the best of what I have.
I know what you have to say and the topics you talk about can bring up some very heated debates. I also know that one voice can be the start of change. My hope is that your voice and opening this whole topic of hot buttons for people will spark some honest open discussions about this and be the start of breaking down peoples misconceptions of what a person on low income life’s really about. I think some people might be surprised by what they learn from others on low income and some might be surprised by why or where their opinions of low income stems from. I welcome hard discussions there is always something new to learn from other people’s journeys.
I’m going to step off my soap box now lol. Thanks for listening.
What do you think?