Saturday, December 01, 2007

What is Poor?

I was over at a blog commenting on The Definition of Needy.

And while the blogger makes a good point about video games, or cellphones not being items of the "needy", there is a big point being missed.

We live in Canada.
Poor here is not like poor somewhere else.
Our poor live better than a large percentage of the rest of the world's middle class.
"Poor" is gauged by the society we live in.
We cannot compare a poor child in say, India or Afganistan to a poor child in North America.
We just can't. We don't have the same standard of living.

I've worked with "the poor" for some time now.
And while there are some families who take advantage of social services, there are others who do not qualify for welfare or choose not to be a part of it.
The working poor, with no medical and dental...and who scrape by on their wits and hard work.
I've worked with them, and I would be lying to you if I told you that the inequity didn't boil my blood.

There is a school of thought that the poor should be just grateful for anything that they get, and years ago, I would have agreed.

I work with shelter families, and the shelter does not take your old clothes, and used items.
I was...but, we shouldn't be.
I've sorted through the things that people donate, and thrown a lot of it out.
Is it not enough that a family is in crisis, they have to wear your discarded old underwear, and dirty ripped clothing?
Garbage that is disguised as a donation.
Food drives where the food donated is shit you've had in your cupboard past the expiry date?


I realize that this is not what the blogger's post was was just that the general tone of the comments made me think about what I've written above, and rather than start a misunderstood riot on the bloggers entry, I'm doing my own.

Far be it from me to say that a kid needs a cellphone, or XBox or whathaveyou.
But, this is a society where most kids have everything.

The problem is that when we're asked to participate in a toy drive, or adopt-a-family for the Holidays kind of thing...we don't get to assess the poverty level of the family.
A social service does...and children will submit a "wish list". It's up to you whether you want to fulfill that wish.
The issue appears to be "the nerve" of the child to submit their wish.
Children are children, and they wish for things...and if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

The assumption that a Canadian child in a crisis situation should be happy with "food and clothing" is a tad superior. We're talking about children. Children who are surrounded by others who have so much that it's sickening.

I was one of those children...and my mother was too proud to ask for help.

That kid you're donating to may be living a life that you wouldn't wish for your own children in a million years.
There are thousands of people in this city who have no business being parents...and they have children.
Children who have no choice but to follow their abusive, mentally challenged, mentally ill, drug addicted, or merely poorly skilled, or refugee parents through life.
There are millions of different situations, and each "poor" family is unique in their reasons for their poverty....that's not even including the children in foster care, or in the custody of 
social services.

Would it be so horrible to give a kid something they wish for?