Poorness-Moral Failing of you or me?

I grew up poor.

Are you disgusted with me yet?

I’m twenty-two and not rich yet.

How about now?

I still live at home.

Oh, yeah, I can feel the conservative disgust.

The lack of a cushy bank account is not a moral failing. Spending some of the cash on what could be considered “luxuries” while Being Poor is also not a moral failing.

See, like Real People, poor people like to do more than just exist. We pray, we play, we enjoy good food, pleasure; more so, I dare say, because we so rarely get to enjoy such things.An example is in order, yes?

When I was a kid, our water heater broke. We couldn’t afford to replace it, not for a year. We lived a year without hot water. Hot showers feel great. But no hot shower felt better than the first one I took after we got the new heater. Now this is an extreme example, but it demonstrates very nicely what I’m talking about. Hot water is a luxury. We didn’t HAVE to have it. But it is very, very nice to have. So when my family could afford it, though still poor, we got it.

Were we still being the noble, virtuous poor that conservatives like to elevate while degenerating the poor who accept government assistance? Did I mention that we were on food stamps for a while, too?


Now the disgust is oozing. Every situation is different. Every family is different. But we’re part of a community, just the same as the Real People, who are Real because they’ve got the cushy bank accounts.

No society benefits from a portion of its citizens starving, living without necessities, being unable to afford school supplies for its children, or being homeless. There is no benefit, unless perhaps the Real People’s Realness depends on their ladders being composed of these non-Real People. I mean, what other reason could there be for such disgust?

I’m not just talking about material benefit, either. I’m talking about the mental well-being of every citizen of Society. What mental good can come of existing, of seeing, of having such contempt for the poor?

There is none.

Let me tell you something else. That private assistance, that charity of private citizens (Real People!) that we poor are supposed to rely on when our boot straps break from all the pulling? In my case, my family’s case, it was nonexistent from those Real People. I was a good church-going girl back then. Every Sunday, Wednesday, choir, VBS, musicals, you get the drill. When we couldn’t pay bills? Nada from the Good Christians of Charity, those Real People of Virtue. Who let me spend the night, so I could have a hot shower without damaging my childish pride? The other non-Real People.

That disgust of poorness doesn’t motivate charity and goodwill, contrary to popular belief. It motivates hate of the supposed moral failing, it motivates spurning of our fellow humanity. It motivates greed and the disregarding of integrity and respect in order to keep filling that bank account, to avoid at all cost losing the status of a Real Person.

Are you still disgusted with me? Or perhaps with something else–like, the mindset that pushed you to be disgusted with my poorness?


About Brittany-Ann
Brittany-Ann is a proud, self-identified feminist with fictional tendencies. She currently writes for LouisvilleKY.com and moderates at My Fault I'm Female. She smokes camels, reads Dumas, and navigates a conservative state as "one of them darn liberals."

One Response to Poorness-Moral Failing of you or me?

  1. Marc says:

    At the risk of you and me both sounding like one of those liberal elitists with liberal educational backgrounds, I am going to refrain from talking about lived experiences and epistemology and how we all can learn many from the poor. What I do want to talk about is the issue of luxury vs. need. Those who condemn the poor for what little “luxury” they enjoy forget that said luxuries can provide comfort and the belief that one is making it, thus allows one to strive for more. It’s a kind of confirmation of sorts. There are many milestones in life, and tiny luxuries, for many, are economic
    milestones – and need to be celebrated than looked at with disdain. It’s that human connection – the understanding of human needs and desires – that I believe conservatives lack – and as a result, they take hardline policies that neither serve to better America or help those who need the most help.

    In the military, one of the things that is driven into us as young leaders is that we have to understand our soldiers and look out for their basic needs, and even reward them once in a while for them to trust/follow us and know that we care, otherwise, without those things, we are not good leaders. Perhaps, as weird as it sounds, Republicans need to start learning military leadership – because their current leadership style hurts more than helps the poor – and thus also America.

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