Friday, July 09, 2010

Revolting Comments

This was a recent Letter to the Editor in the Louisville Courier-Journal

The other day, a local talk-show host said people who get unemployment should be ashamed, and use that shame to motivate themselves to get a job. Isn't being poor, and having the family you love do without because you can't get a decent job, motivation enough?

I didn't choose to be poor, but I have been most of my life. My mother and I were by ourselves. She made 35 cents an hour as a stenographer and rode a bus to work; we had no car. I picked up bottles and cans for refunds until I was big enough to rake and mow yards. When I was a staff sergeant (E6) in the Army, with a wife and two kids, we qualified for the subsidized lunch program in public school and our kids were treated badly by kids with more money. My pay to die for my country was below the poverty level set by our government, and my wife and I both had part-time jobs to try and have clothes, food and shelter.

I am not ashamed. I have been poor, and I'm proud that we persevered through it all. The shame falls on the shoulders of the politicians who let our jobs go overseas, while the products are sold back here to those who lost their jobs. God bless the people who help the less fortunate in any way that they can. I've yet to meet a person who chooses to be poor because he or she is too lazy to work.

Fairdale, Ky. 40118

I am on a crusade to find out who said this. The radio talk show host should himself or herself be terminated and join the ranks of the many unemployed and, perhaps, receive some lessons.

The first lesson is this. The sin of poverty is a sin of the impoverished, but a sin on those who do not care for them. There are many debates on how to aid the impoverished. Those debates are political and valid. But aiding the impoverished and caring for them is actually a Gospel imperative.

If a person who had never read the Bible and new nothing about the history of Christianity were to listen to modern day Christianity the thing the person would presume Jesus spent the bulk of his time discussing was human sexuality and most especially homosexuality. The reality is that Jesus barely glanced on the subject of human sexuality and spent as much time discussing homosexuality as he did nuclear physics, namely none. There were two topics he spoke about a great deal.

The first was the sin of self-righteousness. The second sin most often addressed by Jesus was the sin of poverty. Often, when we see poverty, we blame the impoverished. Jesus consistently turns the tables on this way of thinking. When we see poverty, we are called, as Christians, to address it. When we care for those who are less fortunate to us, we are doing what Jesus calls us to do. When we walk on by, the sin is not on the guy laying in the ditch, it’s on us.

When there are people in our community who are hungry and we do nothing to provide them food, the sin is on us.

This radio talk show host demonstrated little knowledge of poverty or poor people. In our church’s Soup Kitchen and Clothes Closet and Health Fair we’ve really seen that a significant number of people who are poor have jobs. I see our clients all the time. They often work at local fast food restaurants, some in small family run restaurants, and large chain stores. Many work hard, have little to know benefits despite their long hours, and make close to minimum wage. All the manufacturing jobs people like this used to have are now gone. These people are hard working, proud, and poor.

When these folks become unemployed or have spent time on unemployment it was not that they were lazy or didn’t want to work. No one would hire them. Sadly, many went back to work taking jobs that not even didn’t pay what their previous job paid them, but the job actually paid less than their unemployment benefits did.

The comment by the talk show was ignorant, at best.

Secondly, this person needs to have a heart. Was the comment heartless? It was beyond belief heartless!

Often the stories of people who are home, out of work, are heart breaking. Self-esteem dies. Shame does come, but comes because the person is unable to find a job. Sadly, many people apply for dozens, even hundreds of jobs and never even receive the courtesy of a rejection letter. People are home, waiting, and praying, and hoping, and dying a little bit inside each and every day. This person wants them to feel MORE shame? Heartless.

My last point is this. I hope this person does not attend church. Seriously. I would be greatly depressed if this person is a Christian. It would mean, either, the person was ignoring the message of Jesus or that the person was in a church that was ignoring the message of Jesus. If the words came from a person who was practicing Christianity, I would be greatly distressed.

People all have different perspectives and I can live with many of them. This person’s perspective on this topic, frankly, sickens me. It makes my heart ache that there is this kind of cruelty and ignorance being shared with others.


Ceece said...

Great post John. I hope many read it and take heart.

viet nam vet 66-67 said...

Since I wrote that comment just over three years ago, the radio talk show host passed away suddenly at an early age. From Cancer I think. Anyway it gives pause to think doesn't it?
P.S. I also worked for less than Unemployment would give me, as a Security Guard. Figured I may meet my next employer that way. It worked!