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JPR The Voice of Poverty and Disability

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Let's share some stories.

  • davidthegnome (780 posts)
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    Let's share some stories.

    I know that I, and a couple others here have, but I’d encourage everyone here, if they wouldn’t mind, to share their own stories of poverty and/or disability and the struggle that we are engaged in.  I’ll start by sharing a little bit of what’s going on in my life at the moment.

    Last Thursday, when I couldn’t make it to work because of a panic attack (and ended up losing my job, that I’d only had for a couple weeks) I snapped.  I broke.  I accepted defeat in regards to the circumstances of my own life and decided that I would live simply, here at home with my parents – and just write, giving up on everything else.  I have never written for money, as I never wanted to feel like I was using my small talent for the sake of greed.  Rather, it is something I wish to share to help change the narrative about poverty, to help enlighten others about what those of us who are suffering experience.  In spite of the so called economic recovery, good jobs numbers and so on… there are stories that are rarely told.  Stories of struggle, of suffering, of courage and heroism in the face of it… ultimately, stories of survival, even when everything seems hopeless, even when we may have given in to despair.

    I wrote a long post about it over on GD here at JPR.  I figured that, given my long-winded manner of writing, my self hatred, my cynicism and everything else, well, I figured that few people would read it – and that few would respond.  What ended up happening really shocked me.  Dozens of people here at JPR reached out with compassion, with kindness, sharing their own stories and offering words of wisdom and love.  To say that I was (and am) moved would be a dramatic understatement.  I will say instead that it shook me to my core.  I was ready to give up, seeing no value in myself, but so many here saw something in me… whether it was a kindred spirit, a writer, someone who was suffering and deserved empathy and kindness…

    I am grateful for that, more than I can say.  To all of you, to the administrators of this forum who have also reached out to me, to everyone who has read my posts and cared.  I am clinging on by fingernails right now, but I am still clinging.  I feel, in a sense, redeemed.  My faith has always been with humanity.  With our potential for goodness and greatness, for kindness, empathy, for compassion.  Having so much shared with me and given to me just blew my mind.  Here, on a forum, where I am known only by what I post.

    I am hoping that on some day when I am not feeling exhausted, not laying in bed shaking with panic attacks, that I can eventually come to thank each of you individually for your kindness.

    Typically now, every day, I will at some point (usually once during the afternoon hours and once at night) begin to feel very anxious.  I have medication, lorazepam, that some times helps… and some times doesn’t.  I’ve been on a low dose for a long time and suspect I have developed a tolerance.  Anyhow, eventually the anxiety increases, pretty regularly every day, to a point where I can no longer function.  It begins with a feeling of tightness in my chest, a nameless fear in my mind that I am going crazy, that I am definitely having a heart attack this time.  My mind… runs, spinning like a hamster on a wheel, with anxious thought after anxious thought.  I begin to shake, both in the arms and legs – and some times my whole body convulses.  I don’t know why this is – if it is a reaction that I choose deliberately in order to avoid more powerful emotions or other physical sensations.  It is not a true seizure, but something else, that I don’t entirely understand myself.

    Eventually it will slow down… eventually it will stop.  My weakened, hurting body and my exhausted mind will have a chance to rest.  It is usually during these times that feelings of hopelessness, powerlessness, guilt and self hatred overwhelm me (anxiety and depression tend to go hand in hand).  The darkness is quiet, but all invasive, it seems that it reaches every part of my body, my mind – and even my soul.  I usually sleep for a few hours after this happens… and then can go about my business, somewhat, until the next one hits and the cycle repeats itself.

    There are days when I want to scream out to the heavens and demand that God, Goddess, the Universe, something or someone make it stop.  There are days when I think longingly of who I was in years gone by, when I could work for a living and had some measure of self confidence, some measure of self respect… some amount of pride in myself.  I feel beaten, defeated.  I think often of what I should be doing, what I could be doing, how I might make a difference in the world for those in need, for whose in worse circumstances than my own.  I swear to myself that I will get stronger, better, that I will improve… then, once again, the terrible process repeats itself.

    I think of my teeth that are beginning to fall apart – over a dozen cavities, but no money for a dentist.  I think of the fact that I’m in such a sorry state that my therapist sees me without charge.  I think of the medications I take and wonder if, next month, my parents will be able to help me get them again.  I think of my back problems, and whether physical therapy might enable me to return to a somewhat more normal life, maybe if I didn’t have this constant pain.  I think of my son, who I have not been able to contact in years.  Of my family, through who’s kindness and support I am still alive and able to write here today.

    My thoughts can often be… not terribly helpful in dealing with my situation.

    What keeps me ticking, in spite of everything… is all of you.  You who have suffered, are suffering, or have known suffering.  Everyone who struggles every day with poverty, with disabling injuries or mental illness.  What keeps me writing and hoping and damning the circumstances, is the notion that we are in this together.  The notion that, through our shared struggle, our respect and kindness for each other, all things can be overcome.  I know I am not alone – and I know I am not the worst off.

    So I offer my pain, my struggles, my self hatred, my feelings of inadequacy and my frequent despair… to share with all of you, in the knowledge that a shared burden makes it lighter.  It is not for selfless reasons – but it is with the hope that others, too, will share – and that together we might overcome.

    You all have been like angels to me, both here at JPR and at another place in the past.  The kindness and compassion I have been shown, the stories of struggle, of courage, of heroism I have been honored to know, have helped me to cope with my own life.  Damn all of it’s circumstances, I will hang on – and keep writing, because I believe in all of you, who I have leaned on, who have been far kinder to me than I deserve.  I offer, too, my own shoulder and my own experience, if perhaps I might be able to help you in some way, then it is my honor, my pleasure – and my privilege to do so.

    Let’s not let life go by in our quiet struggles, our independent suffering, but share with each other.  For there is strength in numbers, there is strength in hearts, in minds combined for a united purpose.  Let that purpose be an end to poverty, let that purpose be a life in which each of us might find relief from our pain, acknowledgement of our existence and of our suffering.  Let that purpose be the combined spirit of people who still care, though we may often feel forgotten or beaten down, let us lift each other up.

    Alone, I can do nothing, but with all of you by my side, with all of us together, nothing is impossible, no task too difficult.

    I am deeply grateful to you all.  Much love and respect and gratitude.  Thank you for reading, thank you for caring – thank you for joining up.  We can… and will make a difference.

    shaayecanaan, em77, grouchomarxist and 16 othersdjean111, glinda, Viva la Revolution, melurkyoulongtime, Enthusiast, GuardianOne, Pakhet, Dragonfli, Zopilote, wilsonbooks, NVBirdlady, polly7, vadem, alcina, Bluesuedeshoes, cookie jones like this

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  • cleverflamingo (107 posts)
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    1. Once again, you nail it

    I see in you a kindred spirit. We are traveling the same sort of road at the moment. You express so well what it is like….. the vortex of negative thoughts, the pain, the litany of “things that suck” about poverty, the hopelessness, powerlessness and despair of it all, but also the strength of will, and determination to keep going in spite of it all.

    I promise I won’t keep suggesting yoga to you, but it really might help you out with the anxiety attacks, especially the ones that are slower to build. I don’t really have panic attacks. I do suffer anxiety, but my thing is rage.  I have a temper, and an over developed sense of outrage :) …. sometimes I know it is coming, sometimes I am suddenly so angry I can’t get in front of it. Anyway, basic yoga poses and breathing might help you out a lot, both mentally and physically. It doesn’t ALWAYS work, but it is something to try, and it is free. :) Very basic overview for you:  https://www.verywell.com/yoga-for-panic-disorder-2584114 . Beyond that, google will get you where you want to go. You will have to poke around and see what feels right for you.

    About that conflict about money versus writing, and your general dislike of money mentioned in another thread… Write write write, and try not to think about the money. Easier said than done when the need is so great, I know.  I suffer this same problem. I do not write, I draw, but the conflict is similar. I loathe putting a dollar value on my art work. Sigh. Money is just a tool. You have to have a certain amount of it to get by(which is a bitch), but after that, it only has the power we give it. That is what I tell myself, but it is still a struggle. You write so well, and what you say resonates with so many, I am sure if you can make this work. Just write and the money will come.

  • Dragonfli (682 posts)
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    3. I have too many stories, each has informed and shaped me. One might say

    a never ending story put forth as an anthology that has been the book of a life with an approaching expiration date, one whose final chapters, yet written, may lead to some dignity and peace in it’s final words, it’s last paragraph, or perhaps it will end the story in a final decline after a tumultuous beginning, a middle part of the anthology where love, happiness, meaning and purpose were for a time a story worth telling, worth living, worth feeling as the pages unfolded, that portion almost appears now as an illusion, a story of love and triumph after struggle and suffering – before the worst chapter lived was written by capricious fate that involved another story, one that ended a story I shared for a time until it came to it’s last sentence. It’s last whisper barely heard, “I love you, I am sorry you will be alone now”, as that story turned from page to ash, from life to death, from love to a great empty void.

    The story continued after that, any financial resources accumulated during that time of joy and happiness long since sacrificed to a God called “Blue Cross”, an evil God that required all our assets but in the end delayed care with an unanswered but well submitted prayer via proper channels, a common prayer usually granted, at a point so crucial it ended that other story, the one that was not my own yet had become my own as it merged with another, my joyous collaboration, the one I still wish could be read. but is no longer in print, gone with it, also the joy, happiness and hope

    Only new discoveries were left, that a life I’d left behind, a life of misery and lack of resources were to be continued with new chapters as with each paragraph I had lost more, and more, not only of my ability to work, my ability to feel joy but also my ability to remain among those that were not as poor as the boy that started the story, the boy cast to a wilderness unprepared with nothing, a boy too young to shave that also had no hope or means, let alone dreams as other boys had, the boy that was also … alone…. alone as the older greying man he has now become.

    Perhaps I shall tell many of those stories. Each one is similar to a story lived now by legions of others where once they were lived by far less. Yes. I will do that. Others may find comfort in the fact that the boy survived each of those stories stronger than before they were written, the young man much the same as the boy, but not only did that young man become stronger with each story, but learned to write his own and even live it freely and with purpose at least for a time.

    He wrote it well enough that an angel appeared and together they collaborated on a story that began with the weight of poverty (lesser than before and hard to maintain, but unlike before it was a joyous story), one that merged souls and hearts so completely that even the hungry times could produce naught but joy. In time, it was a story lacking in material needs, as all those needs were met and even savings were possible, but that was never the part that brought joy. That collaboration was a rare experience felt by few, the memorized chapters that have yet to fade can still bring a smile to a now stone and grey face.

    The story I live now, is looking rather hopeless, it is one of cold winters without heat and a lack of clothing that isn’t worn and torn in places, often also mundane things taken for granted like soap and countless other sundries, or food designed for my dog is very often not present as no funds exist in this new story, food is available (often shared with my canine daughter, save for those rare times she has her proper food), electric, and shelter (exist for now, but how long is uncertain as our safety net only pays a partial voucher for both). If the rules of my social contract, consented to willingly by me (as well as a great deal of cash over the years contributed by me to my earned benefits), I would be technically poor, (but comfortable enough for one used to very little for most of one’s life, and rich as compared to my current status). The contract has yet to be honored however, and my illnesses grow worse. I am still unable to work and what appears to be the plan of whatever principalities devise such plans, would seem to be, to be stall me, resist me, and stonewall me, until I have the good manners to die or give up trying to survive. They are very good at it, they have been successful using this strategy for nearly five years now. I remain as stubborn as they, but for how much longer I can not say.

    Perhaps I will tell these stories, but for health reasons, and those health reasons in particular that deal with my sanity I have not the strength to continue at the moment, so this synopsis will have to suffice.

    Perhaps after the next batch of medical appointments, and a brief yet necessary hospital stay, I can share some of those stories, but for now this will have to do.

     

    “We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust. We must dissent from a nation that has buried its head in the sand, waiting in vain for the needs of its poor, its elderly, and its sick to disappear and just blow away. We must dissent from a government that has left its young without jobs, education or hope. We must dissent from the poverty of vision and the absence of moral leadership. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” Thurgood Marshall    

    • polly7 (2528 posts)
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      4. Hoping with all my heart your medical appointments and hospital stay

      get you feeling healthier and stronger, my friend.  We would all be much lesser for not being able to see the stories you choose to share.  Your compassion and empathy for others, and your generosity in sharing the real effects of poverty and loss show how strong you really are – that inner strength is something I don’t think I’ll ever have, so it’s more inspiring to me than I can say.

       

  • polly7 (2528 posts)
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    3. Sorry, self-delete.

  • GuardianOne (702 posts)
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    5. I'm not even going to go into the struggle I'm in

    I’m going to say what I’ve thought for a while. If either party gets in , government financial help and medical help will be cut if not end.the wife turns 65 in march which means medicare, and we have chronic illness.

    I see a need for a place we could all draw upon when we need something. I just don’t know how I’d fund it. But we need a place like that. We are in debt, and each month we pay then reuse it. We thought we would die, but obviously we didn’t.

    We belong to a bay area group called Rooster, which is made up of members that give things away free. Also there’s another larger group like that, and Craigslist has a section for free things. Craigslist is how we furnished our apt. We had one bookcase, and we had to buy a bed not long ago, but everything else was free, or we found it. So what we need is a country wide list of places that give away things, or has barter for things.

    Another thing is online surveys. At one point we made 100 doing online surveys, just right now I’ve been too much in pain to concentrate, but its one source. You just need a computer and the willingness to give info.

    Brb

    • GuardianOne (702 posts)
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      6. Ok

      This is what I did for a long time, and if you do enough you can make decent money. If you have chronic pain, which I do, its difficult to do this for a long time. I have to start doing it again, but not as much as I did before. Its one source.

      InboxDollars® – Earn Cash for E-Mail, Surveys, Games, and More!

      http://www.inboxdollars.com/

    • polly7 (2528 posts)
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      7. GuardianOne, I'm so sorry for what you're struggling with also.

      I get so damned angry when reading of all this.  Canada is far, far from perfect but the worries for you all with health care and having at times to have to choose between treating illness or eat just gnaws at me.  The price of one damned bomb could probably supply meds and treatment for ??? how many people.  It’s just plain evil, imo and I’m sorry to anyone this offends.

      Yes, we definitely do need some sort of fund-raising program here for those who may need it that are our members and friends.  There was something on the other site that was created and managed by someone (I wish I could remember who) who very, very kindly made requests occasionally for those in distress.  There are a few things I can give up that I would gladly do so in order to help people here, and I know that others care very much as well.

      If anyone knows how we could do this …. maybe they’ll chime in?

      Talking about bartering or getting things for free – you’re so right, and we do it up here also.  I hate shopping, especially for clothes – because I know most of them are made at the expense of others or for most other things except personal items, because I believe in recycling, remodeling and re-using to save the environment.  I don’t believe, apart from gifts, I’ve owned anything brand new in decades – except for an electronic piano I couldn’t resist – and even that, I found out later I could have got for hundreds less, used.

      Anyway …… the idea of a fund for some of our members here should be looked into, imo.

      I’m so sorry for your chronic pain.

       

      • GuardianOne (702 posts)
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        8. I know we need it, and I wish I could finance it

        I did a go fund me which developed into a go humilate me grin because nobody donated a penny. I shut it down, fortunately my friend is lending us more money and bills are paid for now. August bills will be another jaw dropper.

         

        I have stuff but for right now no way to send it out, and people would have to give addresses or get p o boxes. I am not Hillary’s kill liberals Berkeley chapter member, heh but you have no way to know that. You’d have to ask mr mickeys mom who knows high level blackmail info on us Grin. We’re good people. Old, sick, but good.

        We’re a firm believer in yes, people need basics but a little luxury is nice. We’re more fortunate than most, but the illness blah!

         

      • melurkyoulongtime (99 posts)
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        9. I have an idea.

        And maybe we should start it here.  I’ve been wanting to start a 503 (c) org for some time now for people like us and the homeless, of which I was one until just recently. I’m at work right now but will come back later tonight and add details to this thread.  Maybe w a little help we can save ourselves and others too!

        Edit: typo

        Rage, RAGE against the dying of the light!  Do not go gently into that good night!

        • grouchomarxist (143 posts)
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          11. can we donate housing too?

          i have a spare room here that i’d prefer to share with someone in need.  i’ve been renting it out to bourgeois fucks on airbnb but i’d rather not.  short on cash, but plenty of room!

          • melurkyoulongtime (99 posts)
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            14. That is a most excellent idea! And could be a program

            unto itself! Matching up homeless people w generous folks such as yourself who want to help and can spare the room!  I’d’ve never thought of it myself so thank you for the idea!  I still ponder these issues daily and dearly wish I had the time to write a proposal for a charity such as the one I’ve described. Unfortunately I’m barely keeping my own head above water right now financially and have been working mad hours just to stay afloat, SIGH… I’m hoping to land a better job soon and actually put my money where my mouth is though because w tonight’s election results it’s time for me to put up or shut up ;)

            I also want to apologize for not replying sooner; I just HAD to take a break after Bernie was cheated out of the candidacy ;(((

            Rage, RAGE against the dying of the light!  Do not go gently into that good night!

            • grouchomarxist (143 posts)
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              17. if you get something organized, give me a ring nt

  • melurkyoulongtime (99 posts)
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    10. Sorry this is incredibly late; I've been having a hell of an exceptionally good

    week and it’s thrown me off schedule, but I have absolutely no complaints!     Here’s the idea I mentioned down-thread (I’m not sure it’s been done or if it’s even feasibly realistic but here I go): I’ve been tossing an idea around for literally years of beginning a coalition of, by and for the homeless, near homeless, disenfranchised, welfare recipients, etc. to get food, bill payment assistance AND shelter (good, solid, decent and in good repair permanent shelter, not this garbage most programs do now).  I’m talking building/leasing/renting decent apartments/homes for folks to live in permanently) with extremely minimal hoops for the recipients to jump through to get the needed help.

    The assistance would be secular based – NO having to pray with anyone to a God you may or may not believe in before they’ll give you a couple of bags of groceries full of peanut butter and jelly and loads of carbs (and I’d have to insist the groceries given out are well rounded.  None of this cheap, crap food most people receive from food banks now – fresh veggies, fruit, some complex carbs and MEAT for Pete’s sweet sake as long as they have a place to prepare such foodstuffs.  If they don’t then we have a separate type of food bag filled with things that can be stored and consumed without the need of a kitchen).  Fort Collins, CO has something along the lines that I’m thinking of and you can see them here: http://www.foodbanklarimer.org/our-focus-on-nutrition/.  I’ve used several food banks in the past for my family and they are far and away THE BEST I’ve ever had the pleasure of patronizing.  Great local food: fruit, veggies, AND bread, meat, milk, yogurt etc, etc, etc.  Many times the food is even organic and it’s NEVER second or third rate.  They’re generous to a fault; the first time I patronized them they treated me and everyone else so well I was in tears; and they’re like that every damn day, much to their credit.  Much, much different than here in hateful-ass Texas.  Yes, Texas just LOVES to stomp on and grind down their needy to bits, it’s sickening and completely unnecessary, but I digress.

    The burden of proof on the recipient would be as minimal as possible for whatever program they’re applying for: You’re homeless and need housing and we have an available unit?  Awesome, 1 letter from a caseworker OR veteran’s administration rep OR family member OR neighbor (if not quite homeless YET) and proof of either benefits or income OR a sworn affidavit from the intended recipient (I’d have a notary on staff to notarize these free of charge – a one stop shop if you will) and some form of ID (again a sworn affidavit can replace the ID requirement)and you’re free to move in as soon as the unit/room is available for you.  No room/unit available yet?  No worries, we have a good, clean temporary shelter you can stay in until a permanent room or unit becomes available to you.  If neither is available because both are full then, and ONLY then, do we refer the client out to other resources.

    Need food?  An ID, a letter like described above and we give you 2 weeks worth of food for your household, however, you can come pick up groceries for you and your family weekly or even twice a week if needed.  Can’t come to us because you’re without transportation or elderly or disabled?  No problem!  We’ll deliver to you if you live within our service area.  Just answer a short questionnaire regarding your dietary needs over the phone and we’ll have your groceries to you within 24 hours or less.

    Have housing, food and a low-income job or are looking for a job but need transportation assistance?  Great!  We can help with that too!  Free bus passes for the carless.  Carpool referrals.  Do you already have an old car and it’s usually reliable but you need a repair because it’s breaking down and you can’t afford to let it go because you’ll lose your transportation to work or won’t be able to look for work without it?  Awesome!  We’ll help you fix the damn thing so you can keep going!  I want a referral system in place with various mechanic shops in our service area that will accept our pre-paid vouchers so we can help you get back on the road in reliable transportation!

    Need legal assistance?  Well holy crap!  We also offer referrals to attorneys and organizations that will help you in your time of legal trouble (I’d really rather have volunteer attorneys on staff but that may take time)…..

    There’s so many other ideas that I’ve thought of on this over the years that the opportunities are endless to the GOOD we could all do.  As for helping ourselves I’d have any volunteers that are in need to immediately become clients of said organization.  And once we have enough funds to pay said volunteers they’d be hired as employees with a more-than-livable wage and very, very good benefits.  I was in the insurance industry for 8 years and I know how to put a great benefit package together, my friends

    Now, if you’ve read this far, I want to thank you for sticking with me and say I absolutely know this sounds impossible.  I am, after all, a complete idealist at heart and I do truly want to save us ALL.  I know I’d need to win the BIG (REALLY, REALLY BIG) Powerball jackpot to put this all into play all by myself.  In fact, I’ve actually prayed (and played) that damn ridiculous game before hoping I’d hit just so I could carry out the above pipe dream of mine.  I’ve sworn that if I ever DO hit it that 90% of my winnings will go to above said dream.  Unfortunately, here in reality, when I do play (and it’s seldom – the pot size HAS to be ridiculously big or it’s all for naught) I’ve only hit 4 out of 6 numbers twice.  Which is enough to pay or partially pay a bill or two or to throw a friend that’s having a hard time some cash to help ease their burden.  However, I do feel if we all band together, start a gofundme, kickstarter, wishadoo, etc and start small then maybe we can get at least some of this to work AND give a fat middle finger to all the corporations and PTB that say it can’t be done.  We can politely tell them “F YOU, we’re going to do this and help ourselves and others AND we don’t NEED your stinking help ANYMORE.  So go F yourselves and BTW – have a nice day!”

    Anyway, that’s my dream in the smallest nutshell I can stuff it into…  I know it’s huge; it may be impossible… but we won’t know unless we try, right?!!!

    Rage, RAGE against the dying of the light!  Do not go gently into that good night!

    • grouchomarxist (143 posts)
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      12. i have a similar story to those here

      but the quite blatant abuse at the hands of those with much more money, power, whatever has completely jaded me.  the most frustrating part is that there really, truly is not a way out.  by the morality of the day: happy, hardworking and selfconfident to the point of narcissism, i cannot but be a sinner.

      i admire the members of this site i have spoken with so for their capacity for care and love.  i am losing mine.

      • melurkyoulongtime (99 posts)
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        15. I do truly want to save us all, however, I also have a saying,

        “I LOVE humanity, its some of the PEOPLE I hate.” :) I’m not without sin myself but I refuse to quit trying to be a better person in spite of it.  Though I am quite jaded and cynical in real life, lol.  

        Rage, RAGE against the dying of the light!  Do not go gently into that good night!

    • Dragonfli (682 posts)
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      13. I like your ideas – keep them coming, I know how to survive being poor but you

      have better knowledge of how to organize and accomplish things. I encourage you to keep thinking along these lines and if you have a solid, ready to start proposal, I suggest you write The Admins, like Mary, I believe they will help you at least with exposure on the front page once something is ready to post. If your ideas grow produce a model center to begin the work, you can begin to work on establishing similar efforts after that first working model, they would likely give you an article space to organize each one by area, they are very empathetic, kind, and want to make a difference in the world, not only in our political future, but I believe also in the well being of others in any way they can help.

      “We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust. We must dissent from a nation that has buried its head in the sand, waiting in vain for the needs of its poor, its elderly, and its sick to disappear and just blow away. We must dissent from a government that has left its young without jobs, education or hope. We must dissent from the poverty of vision and the absence of moral leadership. We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” Thurgood Marshall    

      • melurkyoulongtime (99 posts)
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        16. Wow! That's high praise coming from you,

        Dragonfli!  I’m truly honored and humbled by your encouragement!  Though I haven’t stated working on a formal proposal just yet I have obtained some research materials to help me along with it.  My proposal writing skills have gotten rusty as of late… I’m also researching the process on how to become a nonprofit and where to go for funding once nonprofit status is obtained.  Its going to keep me busy for a bit, lol, but at least it’s for the greater good :)

        I’ve never understood how some people that have the wherewithal to help just don’t because of preconceived notions about the poor and homeless.  I want to also educate people such as that that poverty and homelessness can happen to ANYONE these days unless you’re lucky enough to be independently wealthy.  All it takes these days is just one medical emergency, a contentious divorce, an unexpected car repair, etc to find yourself couchsurfing at a friend’s, at a shelter or flat out on the street.  This goes against everything I was taught as a kid.  Americans are supposed to be better than this!  We managed to treat our former enemies, Japan and Germany, better after WW2 in regards to rebuilding their infrastructure than we treat our own  people and infrastructure now, SMH.  Whatever happened to helping out your fellow man, woman or child?  Oh, I remember now, that went out the window when Raygun and Gordon Gekko arrived on the scene back in the day, SIGH…

        Again, thank you very much for your kind words of encouragement!  I’ll think of them often – especially when the going gets rough :) and I’ll also post updates here in the thread if anyone is still interested!

        Rage, RAGE against the dying of the light!  Do not go gently into that good night!

  • TwilightSporkle (1378 posts)
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    18. I dunno how to "tell a story" on the subject

    To me, telling a story involves describing an event, something that happened. But poverty didn’t “happen” to me, it’s not some sort of exception that I can describe as “and then, and then, and then.” I was born into poverty. So were my parents. All the way back to some potato-eating tinkers in Ireland and another bunch of wainrights in a Cornish caravan, and who knows how much further back than that. I grew up on half-told narratives of my grandfather the sharecropper’s son and his thirteen brothers. My mother and aunt painting their legs to look like they had hose.  I remember being five years old and thinking we were playing a game with the landlord – when what we were actually doing was squatting while my dad traveled four states looking for work any-fucking-where. I learned to sew because we couldn’t afford clothes, so I just had to fix what I could. I learned to fish and snare rabbits and take squirrels with a BB gun because we didn’t have money for food – I learned to garden for the same reasons. I learned all sorts of handiwork stuff, in fact; The one thing I never picked up was being an electrician. Not for lack of effort on a mentor’s part, but because electricity terrifies me. But I can give Bear Grylls a run for his money, not because I had a TV show but because that’s how we had to live. When I say “we were on subsistence,” I mean that literally. We spent three months living in a van on Dauphin Island, literally eating whatever the hell we pulled out of the surf. And you know what, fuck it. I ain’t proud. I lived the stereotype. I’ve done some criminal shit because when you’re at the bottom, when your mother is wore out and your sister is hungry, well, your family comes before someone else’s.

    And now here I am, still skirting the poverty line. I have a good job, but the rent where I live is too damn high and not getting any lower. I’m partially supporting my mother because well, poverty chewed the fuck out of her, too. Single woman, no “marketable skills,” with some health conditions, plus the discrimination? yeah, that worked out REAL well. My teeth aren’t doing so hot – too much soda – and I’m not certain if Apple Care covers dental or not (I gotta check on that.) I currently have $10 in the bank and a tub of cool whip in the fridge, and I get paid on Wednesday. And I don’t even fuckin’ like cool whip.

    I suppose even with all that, I’m on the fortunate end of the scale. i’ve been abjectly homeless, when I did a dumb move to Atlanta for a girl who was two-timing me. Oops, kids do dumb shit I guess. But I’ve lived of of McDumpster and i’m damn acutely aware there are people worse-off than me. Hell, even beyond homelessness, i have a wide array of skillsets that will always be in demand, and a second set that cna keep me going in the woods if domehow they;re ever not in demand. So, rough as it is, it could sure as hell be a lot worse for me.

    And then I see people talking about “the Middle Class,” starting at $250k and I just want to shatter ’em like a plate flass window. Guess there’s a lot of angry in there, too.

  • mntleo2 (28 posts)
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    19. Poverty …

    As someone who has lived most of my adult life in poverty I became an activist for those who fall through the cracks, so to speak ~ as I have on many occasions. I am proud to tell you that I was named a “Poverty Scholar” by the Poverty Initiative at the Union Theological Seminary at the Riverside Church in NYC. It means more to me than just about any other honor I could have gotten. This was the place the where the great Lutheran scholar and double spy against the Nazis Martin Neimoeller went to get the inspiration to write before his execution, “First they came for the trade unionists and I did nothing because I was not a trade unionist…” It is the place that Martin Luther King went to organize his stand for racial and social justice. It is still a place that honors many of people like me who will probably be swallowed whole by the annuls of history because well I am no one the likes of  Hillary Clinton and never will be. I  have never been to NYC or the Riverside Church (which is on a bucket list that never will be)  but when I got that honor I knew I have not lived my life in vain and that I had lived my purpose to be on this earth. That is enough for me!

    Over the decades I have learned a few things about the nature of poverty and I want to share a few things about it with you all: Poverty is an institution it is not a “choice” Why is this important, you may ask? Well here a definition of the word “institution” and perhaps it will help you see:

    [in-sti-too-shuh n, -tyoo-] a well-established and structured pattern of behavior or of relationships that is accepted as a fundamental part of a culture, as in marriage:
    any established law, custom, etc.
    any familiar, long-established person, thing, or practice; fixture

    Institutions remain in place because they benefit someone, no matter how many others it consumes and destroys.  Most people in poverty believe they are the drag on society, that they are dependent on others, when it is actually the other way around; others depend upon them to remain in poverty so the poor can hold the other classes up. There are a myriad of ways poverty does this, but let me count a few ways. It is important to understand how embedded poverty is within our society, that the poor are exploited for the enrichment of the upper classes in some of these ways:

    1. The cheap labor that those in poverty supply ~ even slave labor is encoded within our laws under Welfare Reform where a welfare recipient is forced to work off their welfare at less than 50 cents per hour ~ and employers do not have to observe labor laws so the worker is forced to work with no breaks under dangerous conditions that do not apply to regularly paid workers. Furthermore this Welfare-to-Work undermines regularly paid workers who are paid better ~ why hire anyone else than someone that is only paid 50 cents an hour? The point being that others financially benefit off lowly paid or free labor. BTW Hillary Clinton endorsed these practices, indeed she went around with the likes of Joe Lieberman to crow about how “successful” it was. this “success only meant the rolls dropped, they had no idea nor did they want any as to where these families went or what happened to them. As a matter of fact, they did not bother to do any research on the consequences of Welfare Reform, little if any statistics are still not tied to the direct results of this poorly devised “overhaul.” Even N.O.W.,  endorsed Welfare Reform who mostly use poor women as their “poster children” while not having a clue nor listening to why poverty is so rampant among women ~ but then IMO it is run by mostly entitled white women who have either forgotten their own beginnings or never had lived them. Believe me, I have had my fill of idealistic upper income women who think they “know” exploitation and then  blame poor women for “choosing” their plight because well doncha know, a strawberry picker, a cleaning women or a McJob worker “doesn’t work as hard as they do…”
    2. Mega-non profits that the rich use as their “Cayman Islands” for “donations” that are really tax shelters for their $Millions. In reality they do not “donate” a thing. They also use these mega-nons to hire their relatives and friends in “executive” positions making 6 figure salaries. You can see this by simply going floor by floor to see who makes the most: The lower floors (where the unpaid “volunteers,” usually the poor who perform the real work) have broken furniture and equipment. The middle floors with middle income workers’ better surroundings. Then you reach the top floors where there is original art and expensive furniture. They will tell you they “need” these decadent upper floors and their well dressed executives “to attract rich donors” who they believe would not donate if they saw what was on the lower floors ~ or get the tax benefits they expect.
    3. The medical industry that employ the middle and upper classes. Additionally the psychological and psychiatric industries, closely tied to the courts for family and other analysis ~ which btw has actually little scientific basis other than theory but is often used as fact in court in order top exploit the poor for “more needed services.”. I would also include the insurance industry where the middle and upper classes depend upon their employment in order to cover the poor so they can access these industries.
    4. The prison Industrial System which use poverty in order to keep their buildings full and the middle class with jobs and the upper classes employed. It should also be noted that prisons use slave labor for creating even more profit for themselves with goods they force prisoners to make and that prison companies sell.
    5. Leading to our court system who use the poor whether it is with criminal or fines collected, employing the middle and upper income people, clerks, judges and lawyers, etc. The poor actually do not cost more than other classes as the upper classes use this same court system for their lawsuits, their taxes, and their businesses than the poor’s use of criminal justice defense is concerned.
    6. This segues into the social service industry, which depends on all of the above for its existence. They like to think that poverty is a ‘choice” when in fact it is not. They keep this illusion in order to hold each person in poverty as personally responsible for their plight instead of taking a look at why they justify the sick and skewed treatment that those in poverty endure. They use rather than question this Institution Of Poverty by imposing impossible lists of reasons about why someone is in poverty in order to “help” them. I  know tons of really good social workers, do not get me wrong. But they often mistake their good feelings about how wonderful they are to “help the poor little baybees” as a justification that is keeping it going rather than really listening to those in poverty enough to find better ways to end poverty.
    7. Drug use is less than the upper classes and crime is no more committed than any other class, it is just enforced more. But those in poverty do not have wealthy families to support them so therefore they are held responsible for whatever confinement they become trapped within the Institution of Poverty.
    8. The increasing criminalization of the homeless is proof positive of this where because someone “chose” to be homeless, they cannot stand still in a public place, they have no place to go to the restroom, no legal place to sleep even in their own cars, and do not count shelters, these only answer less than 10% of the homeless today.
    9. There is no law against discriminating against the poor. The Institution of Poverty feeds upon racism, sexism, ageism, and those with disabilities. While there are laws in place albeit poorly enforced, against things like racism, there is no law against discriminating against anyone who is poor. The poor can be denied jobs, housing, even entry into public transportation and into public buildings simply because they are poor. So while the real reasons to discriminate is because someone is of a certain race, sex, disabled, or a senior or one or all of these, all anyone has to say is they discriminated against someone because they were poor and they are legally protected.
    10. The poor pay disproportionately more of their meager incomes in taxes than any other class in this nation. In my state (WA) the poor pay upwards of 18% of meager incomes, even a welfare mother pays more than any middle class people do while using way less of the infrastructure than other classes use. In other words the poor make a far greater sacrifice than any other class. If you want to know how your state and where you fall on the average, check this out at The Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy here: http://www.itep.org/whopays/

    I could write so much more about the Institution of Poverty and how it embedded within and depended upon. In spite of the pride of Americans who believe erroneously that class does not matter, class does matter. Therefore the Institution of Poverty is kept quite deliberately alive and well. It encompasses racism and all the other “isms” by pretending if you discriminate against someone because they are poor, then this is more “fair” since it includes all “isms” without discriminating against any particular ‘isms”.

    The industries that depend upon the poor will continue to flourish until we include poverty within those ‘isms” ~ but since abolishing The Institution of Poverty would upset the whole economic apple cart, I will not hold my breath. However I do not think it is impossible and tho it took over 300 years and a whole lot of death and destruction, slavery was deinstitutionalized when it was abolished. I would hope that it will not take those extremes, but again, I would not hold my breath.

    Those who are in poverty can overcome their guilt, and refuse to accept the blame that they “chose” poverty by understanding the tangled spider’s web they are trapped within literally designed to keep them there.  Nobody poor who I know is afraid to own their choices, but this is not the issue. If they had been Paris Hilton and made those same choices or had those same difficulties, they would never have to suffer under the persecution and blame for their status in life ~ it only takes money and poof! It is gone!  So with Paris it can simply be bought out of and they never have to leave their class, be blamed for their “poor choices” or be held accountable for anyone else who is rich, unlike the poor who are made to carry all those burdens for being poor.

    Look at it this way: If everyone in the world were to come to an agreement that a diamond is a pretty shiny rock and nothing else then that is the way it would be viewed.  The very idea of creating that viewpoint about diamonds seems almost impossible. Thus we will always have “blood diamonds” until they become worthless. Much the same way with poverty; if those who depend upon it would actually admit they depend upon it, then we would soon have a way to abolish it. We all know we have enough resources in the world to share so everyone is amply cared for, but until we hold accountable those who hoard them all and refuse to share them, until we refuse to assume they are entitled to more of the Universe than anyone else, we WILL have poverty.

    By viewing the poor as “useless eaters” to put it crudely as the Nazis did, is a way of denying one’s own dependence upon those in poverty. BTW Henry Kissinger was also said to have referred to the poor, disabled and elderly in this way. This is an illusion, a way for the upper classes to lift themselves up in order to maintain the place to which they are clinging.  If anything the exploitive, entitled 1% who are the most responsible for creating poverty than they ever do for stopping it do little or contribute anything without their own requirement to benefit even more than they already have. The poor are *not* useless eaters,” they do not exploit and consume huge parts of humanity while sitting on resources as massive millions starve. The 1% are the ones blaming the poor as a way of refusing to admit that they are the “useless eaters.”  Personally I do not think any part of creation is a useless eater, but I will say I resent being called one by the upper classes when they may be worse, and I will stand up and tell them so until they own their own participation in creating and maintaining poverty.

    My 2 cents, Cat in Seattle
    Board member of P.O.W.E.R., http://www.mamapower.org, activist in poverty, activist for all people to have a dignified place in this world, activist against homelessness, and general sign waver and rabble rouser

     

    PeeEss: Sorry for the long post. They do not call ME “chatty Cathy” for nuttin’

     

    Cat in Seattle   >^..^<   "I like democracy *not* xenocracy..."  ~  Frank Zappa