I’m not poor and I never have been.
The closest I’ve come to the breadline were those times at school or university when my pocket money, or Prêt a Manger wages, couldn’t stretch to another comic or pint.
So I’ve been very fortunate that I’ve never felt hunger that I couldn’t quell by choice; I’ve only received final demands because I wanted to go to the movies when the earlier bill came in; my kids have always been fed, clothed and allowed to experience all the books and toys they could wish for.
But I’ve always had this nagging feeling that my circumstances have not quite been available for everyone else. Those less well-off than me seemed to fill up Camden High Street every Saturday afternoon, but I walked past them with only the slightest idea of who they might be or why their trainers didn’t have a logo on the side. Yes, I regularly give £20/$20 notes to the homeless (my version of trickle down economics), but I’ve never really considered how they got there, or how difficult they might find it to change their situation.
Which is why I felt privileged to read this article. It’s a fantastic piece, written by a lady who has experienced the numbing, debilitating grip of everyday poverty. She’s not complaining; she’s just laying out the realities of how and why she, and millions like her, live the way they live.
Coincidentally it turned up in my Twitter feed around the same time as this:
Now, I’m not saying we should react as Russell Brand does, but if you’d like a perspective into the way many people regard the poor in western society, watch the Fox News parts of that clip.
Where am I heading with this post? Down a cul-de-sac, really; I don’t know what to do to really help, especially when the ever-expanding range of problems currently faced by society is paralysingly colossal. But I just thought I’d put this stuff out there. Maybe you have a solution that you could share with us, or maybe you’ll feel a bit more generous next time you walk past or talk about a person who is not as well-off as you are.
Meanwhile, come on the guy who waits by the traffic light at Laurel Canyon Blvd; I have a $20 bill just for you.