Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Surviving poverty

Last week my sister's car was stolen from her driveway.

There have been incidents daily since then and I spent the better part of the weekend feeling sad. Sad for the victims, sad that people choose to criticize victims (because perhaps they feel somehow exempt from these crimes happening to them), and sad we live in a world that tolerates and expects crime. Oddly, I couldn't help but also feel something for these criminals. Although I know nothing about them, I imagine them to be like many others who have been found in this situation: young, poor, desperate, hopeless.

While I may look like your average privileged white woman (and yes, there is privilege in that), I assure you there were times in my childhood I too felt poor and desperate.

Statistically speaking, the odds were stacked against me. Chances are my siblings or I would become an alcoholic (because my father is), we wouldn’t attend college (because my parents were not college educated), we would not be successful in relationships or marriage (because my parents divorced). We lived just above the poverty line; not eligible for benefits, but not able to afford so many of the basics those around us possessed.

And sure, I was envious of my peers; at times wishing so badly to have their things/parents/home/access. I watched them get new clothes, new cars, apply to colleges without concern about tuition fees, accept unpaid internships to boost their resumes. However envious I was though, I never once thought to take a short cut. You don't beat poverty by not doing the hard work or stealing from those who have.

When I graduated from college and knocked down doors to (finally) land a job and I rented my small downtown apartment, oh my goodness, I beamed with pride. It wasn’t a glamorous job and it certainly was not a glamorous apartment, but there was no greater feeling in the world than owning that life.

While I know my situation was not as grave as many of these children who choose to steal, I am saddened that they’re unable to see they are cheating themselves.

They are robbing themselves of the true satisfaction that comes from wanting something so badly, and working hard to get it.

Someone robbed my sister of the things she worked so hard to have, and in that, not only missed an opportunity to be in school or do the hard work, but they destroyed the faith of an ally. I can guarantee this though, she knows that joy and satisfaction, and someday soon she will add this to the list of challenges she overcame.

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