“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
― Mahatma Gandhi
WARNING: This post will probably piss you off. There is cursing and ranting. Leave now if you don’t want to deal with it.
Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook that I absolutely had to steel myself from word-vomiting all over a timeline to refute. It hurt deep down in my gut not to respond to this ridiculous rant of someone on a social media outlet that has no real-life repurcussions. I hate that a stupid social media post can do that to me.
I am a firm believer that there’s no point in arguing on Facebook, which is why I chose to write a blog about this instead. I know that NO person’s opinion was ever changed via a Facebook debate. Social media arguments are the equivalent of saying, “I know this!” “Oh yeah, well, I know that.” Etc.
But this is my freaking blog, so I’m going to say what I want about who I want. And you can feel free to exit/unfollow/unfriend me at any point (in fact, if you disagree with this, then I welcome it), but I do realize that no opinion was ever changed through an internet argument.
That said, one of my Facebook connections posted that she was absolutely infuriated at seeing someone in Wal-Mart use food stamps to buy junk food while this person had a designer handbag and other fancy (probably expensive) accessories. Over 80!!! (EIGHTY) people gave this status the “thumbs up” of solidarity, and other people commented on how proud they were of the poster and that the person with food stamps obviously “didn’t want to look poor.” It’s important to me to note that the person who posted this comment is a public school teacher who also presents herself as a conservative (duh) Christian on Facebook.
The post about people buying junk food with food stamps they pulled from their designer purses gets me for a few reasons. Firstly, the majority of people who have opinions on poverty, government assistance, and nutrition while poor HAVE NEVER BEEN POOR. God forbid someone uses your “hard earned money” to feed their children. And, News Flash! Most people who are poor DO NOT WANT TO BE POOR. So, yes, the person who commented that the woman with the designer handbag doesn’t want to look poor, is probably right. Because, guess what. NO ONE wants to “look poor.”
As a kid raised by a single mother who worked her ass off to give us everything we NEEDED and as much as she could of what we wanted, I can tell you that I desperately didn’t want to look poor in middle and high school. I would have given years off my life at that point to wear Abercrombie and Fitch clothes or new Nike shoes. People don’t want to look poor because of assholes that make comments like that, because you are inherently judging people who look poor versus those who don’t.
BUT! What people often don’t realize is that you can buy fancy-looking things for unfancy prices. When I was in middle school I remember getting a Roxy and Limited Too shirt at the Goodwill and thinking I was going to be hot shit. I looked like my peers (the popular kids) whose parents spent much more on their wardrobes than we could afford. Guess what else. You can get a designer handbag as a –gasp– knockoff for tons less. So that way, you don’t look poor except when you have to take your food stamps out under the judging eyes of those people who claim to love their neighbors as themselves, but still manage to judge you in solidarity with their Facebook friends.
Similarly, I know you won’t believe this, so prepare your facial expression of incredulity. But not everyone is born poor and stays poor forever. OMG, right? (Though many people stay poor because there isn’t really the opportunity to “move up” like the American Dream likes to think there is.) People don’t plan their whole lives on mooching off of your “hard earned money.” It happens suddenly. It happens often. People who could once afford their Mercedes and Coach handbags, are suddenly hit with job loss or devastating family illnesses that bankrupt them, and they struggle to just make it by. And you know what, when you have a paid off car that is reliable and works, you don’t sell it to purchase something that you may not be able to count on to get you to doctor appointments or job interviews. When you have 1 purse, you don’t go buy new ones. You use the one that works and won’t rip after years of use.
Similarly, nutrition when you’re in poverty isn’t the same as when you can buy all the health foods you want, shove them in your nice refrigerator (that requires a paid electricity bill), and forget about them while you eat Chik-Fil-A for lunch every day, then toss all that Whole Foods salad when it goes bad. Junk food, which we ALL know is terrible for you, is cheaper in the long run for people in poverty. Cooking requires electricity, pots and pans, refrigeration, and a kitchen in which to cook. Did you know that when you live in a shelter you sometimes have to take EVERYTHING you own with you when you leave? There’s no where to refrigerate your organic blueberries and hydroponic lettuce. Not only that, but the government subsidizes the exact foods that junk foods are chock full of: soy, corn, and wheat. That’s why junk food is cheaper.
Now to the final point, which I’ve made before in a similar, previous blog about conservative healthcare. When we ask, “What Would Jesus Do?” I bet the answer for this particular situation is not, “Judge people and ask His friends to get in on the hating.” I’m pretty sure Jesus would have HELPED. Like he did throughout his whole life as described in the Bible. Last time I checked, Jesus was never like, “Gawd! This is ridiculous. All these jerks taking advantage of my hard-earned, wicked-awesome celestial powers.” Nope. He probably would have been like, “Hey, I saw you’re struggling. How can I help you with
- job training
- money management
- something else that could get you back on your feet?”
The fact that people making these comments, having these thoughts, expressing these opinions, are people who are teaching the kids of tomorrow is also disheartening. I have seen other teachers–even teachers who taught ME in high school–post stuff like this on Facebook too. A former teacher of mine once posted something about people with food stamps “mooching” off her paycheck. I thought to myself, “Don’t you know that a good chunk of the students sitting in your classroom are the people ‘mooching’ off your paycheck?” How do you think students would feel knowing their teachers resent them for being able to eat. But realize, too, that not everyone is out to get YOU, out to steal your hard-earned paycheck (which, let’s face it, is NOT as hard-earned as you like to claim it is), out to turn the world into a communist resort.
Caveat: Yes, I know not every teacher, person in the grocery store, Christian, conservative, etc. is like this.
I realize that everyone is entitled to an opinion, and yes, even I am guilty of judging people for things too. And I’m absolutely not saying we should censor people, but I think it’s time for a mindset change (especially for people who are supposed to be teaching the next generation!). It’s ridiculous of ANY of us to judge ANYONE when we don’t know their circumstances.
Woman using a whole shopping cart for 1 can of paint at Home Depot? Maybe she had breast cancer surgery and isn’t supposed to carry anything.
Overweight single man buying microwave dinners in the grocery store? Maybe he’s a single dad working 2 jobs to try to support his children and doesn’t have the free time time to cook or exercise, but still wants to try to eat better than fast food.
Woman in WalMart pulling food stamps out of her coach handbag to pay for junk food? Maybe she was a stay at home mom whose husband lost his job in IT (which is one industry among many that it’s really hard to get back into when you’re past a certain age). So she has no marketable job skills and neither can get a job after hundreds of applications, and is using her family’s food stamps on soda and potato chips for a small family Labor Day party.
Asshole on Facebook trying to make yourself feel better about judging people who know nothing about by crowd-sourcing likes and “atta girls?” Maybe you should shut your damn mouth and try to do something to help instead. WWJD?