By Mitch Holt, Copy Editor
The poor are often blanketed with the one specific stereotype-laziness.
All situations are different, and one simple explanation can’t cover everyone living in a state of economic suffering.
An article printed in Issues & Views, a conservative publication for those “concerned about liberties lost, especially through the ongoing exploitation of race,” delivers one explanation for poverty:
“In economically mobile, relatively free societies, the poor are often guilty of failing to take steps to prosper. They marry too early and have too many kids and thus arrest their own development and, also, those of their children. They stick with bad jobs because they have gotten themselves into debt too early. They do not take time to get educated because they are in the hurry to have fun.”
The “economically mobile, relatively free society” mentioned in this article is an obvious reference to the United States. The writer basically thinks that poverty can be attributed to laziness, irresponsibility and stupidity.
This argument sounds about right from our middle-class American perspective. However, we don’t know what goes on in the lives of the poor individuals in this Abilene society. The true ignorance in the above argument rings clear to those who have experienced poverty.
Meet hypothetical Andrew. He was born into a five-member family and is the youngest of four siblings. His father left after he was born, and he’s lived with a single mother who has worked a $7.50-per-hour job his entire life to support the large family but still depends on a Welfare check each month to get by.
The only thing he’s ever known is a less-than-adequate school system, a chaotic family life and the idea that he’s never going to break the barriers of race, location and economic status to become a “successful” person, in the standards of this capitalist America.
Andrew was doomed to lifelong poverty from the moment he was born-or at least that’s what he’s been led to believe. He isn’t simply “in a hurry to have fun,” as the above excerpt states.
So with this young man’s acquired taste for being down-and-out and having nothing to lose, he resorts to outlets that seem the best choice for the situation-gang affiliations, violence, petty crimes and taking what he needs to survive.
According to the Global Development Research Center, an educational resource that specializes in issues about the economy, environment, urban centers and community, many different reasons for poverty exist.
Lack of educational preparation, physical handicaps, culture of poverty and gender and racial discrimination are all reasons people live in poverty, according to the organizations Web site.
Laziness might be the immediate reason people live in poverty, but the true, underlying reason has everything to do with where a person comes from. Poor education or physical infirmities are not the fault of the child- neither are the lifestyles an individual learns from his or her family or the neighborhood in which he or she grew up.
People don’t get to choose their quality of life much of the time.
But America needs to realize this; Abilene needs to realize this. The sooner the haves start helping the have-nots – intertwining values and culture and breaking down racial and socioeconomic barriers – the sooner the number living in poverty will drop.
A change in attitude is in order for everyone, and the beginning of this change is trying to understand the lives of those living in poverty.