99% and The Lost Art of Being Gentle With Yourself

*Image courtesy of The Truths of Life.

In our society there’s a certain push to keep going.

If you have a headache and it’s a workday, you take an aspirin and keep on going.

If you’re a woman and you have your period, you pretend there are no cramps and you keep on going.

If there’s an ice storm and the roads are dangerous, you drive in to work anyways, you keep on going.

This push to keep going can take over sometimes, becoming the most important drive in our lives.

But all this pushing can strip our humanity, break us down.

***

I worked at a diner inches from the tunnels to New York City. It was a big, busy place that bustled with business and I ran the evening shift as hostess. I was the 3 pm to 3 am shift most nights. It was one of those jobs that seems surreal looking back. The waitstaff regularly worked twelve, fourteen hour shifts, sometimes twenty. Most of the young ones on the staff stayed high on uppers so they could make it through their shifts and I was propositioned continuously by one of my managers to “take it down to the cot downstairs”.

One night a call came in.

One of the waitresses, a woman in her fifties, found out her husband had just died.

The night manager insisted she work out the rest of her shift…. and she did. She kept on going.

I tried to make her leave or at least get off the floor for a while, but she looked at me with tired eyes, eyes too tired to be scared anymore, and she said, “I can’t. They’ll fire me.”

***

A little over a year and a half ago Patrick and I were both working at an upstart health food store on Saint Pete Beach. We had everything all planned out. I’d landed a marketing position there, and he’d landed in the supplements department working alongside an old friend from aeons before. We had some money saved in the bank and we were starting to shop around for a cozy little beachside shack within walking distance of work.

Life was good. We’d taken a scary plunge by leaving our jobs (and moving cross country) during the biggest economic depression of our lifetimes, but we’d come out on top of the risk. We had our websites producing a happy side income and there was a genuine sense of belief that all was right in our little world.

That’s where we were one night as we left work together.

Three minutes later life looked pretty different.

We stopped at a red light 100 feet from the entrance of our work.

We sat there waiting, laughing and talking, unaware of the woman who was about to hit us, the woman who was very, very drunk and driving very fast.

Life has a way of changing quickly sometimes. In our circumstance, we both got a free ride in an ambulance, pink slips from our new positions, and too many trips to the doctor’s office.

As I sit here writing this I feel older than my 37 years. I feel the heavy twist of ache in my spine, at the base of my neck, and the too familiar twinge of a collarbone injury that seems so nonsensical it should be humorous, except it just doesn’t seem to go away.

A few days after the accident, I found myself at work, unable to turn my head or use my neck, and doing my best to stuff down pain-created tears as I attempted to do my job.

Ayo took one look at me. She grabbed me by the arm, and she said, “You’re going home now.”

“But,”

“No buts, you’re going home.”

The tears started flowing at this point, “But Ayo, I can’t. I’ve already been out for two days and there’s the event to plan and,” I whispered this last part quietly, “….they’ll fire me.” I knew this. They’d unceremoniously dumped their last marketing head to get me on board, a fact that caused me a lot of uncomfortable feelings. I’d met their last marketer, seen her work, talked to people she’d talked to, and she’d been a good woman, a good worker.

Ayo knew better though, she said, “It doesn’t matter if they fire you. You’ve got to go home and take care of yourself. You can’t work right now.”

***

When I see people going and sitting on wall street, gently protesting on wall street, I see people saying a lot of things in our country aren’t right, and one of those things is working conditions.

Sometimes there’s asbestos in the tool your manager wants you to use.

Sometimes there’s toxic fumes in the wallpaper sample factory you work at.

Sometimes there’s a six cent raise after a six month month wait.

Sometimes you work full-time and your honey works full-time, but there’s still not enough to pay for both food and rent.

Sometimes you need to know it’s going to be o.k. to call in to work and say, “I’m sorry but I’m snowed in and I’m afraid to drive in today. Is it all right if I stay home?”

Sometimes you just need a job to go to, any job, and no matter how many applications you turn in to Wal-mart and Taco Bell you still can’t find someone to hire you.

***

When I work long hours on my online business, longer hours than I would if I had a regular job, I think of that waitress, and I think of everything we said to each other that night. I think of the look in her eyes, and I think about how she knew she’d get fired if she decided to leave.

I also think of Ayo. Ayo died last year, uninsured, of cancer, shortly after she steered me towards the exit doors, sealing my fate (I was let go) and giving me freedom.

Patrick and I, we’d known Ayo for close to 15 years.

Ayo was a proud black woman, fierce and gentle and human.

Ayo had dreadlocks down past her tiny bumm, with seashells woven in to her hair.

Ayo wore the traditional dress of her ancestors, gorgeous multi-colored African gowns.

Ayo never apologized, she never held back her words, her thoughts.

Ayo spoke out when she saw something wrong, she spoke out for change, even when it cost her.

Ayo said we all need to remember we’re people, we’re human, and we need to remember to treat each other like humans.

***

The lost art of gentleness starts within.

We can offer gentleness to other people in the world, but the place it will often have the most impact, and the place where it is least frequently shared, is towards ourselves. It’s the lost art of self-kindness, the lost art of nurturing.

Today, wherever you are, if you’re at work or at home, right down the street or at the other end of the world, today be a little softer with yourself, give yourself a break, take a few deep breaths, give yourself a hug. Nurture your inner woundedness, be kind to yourself.

And then think about what’s going on around you, think about how you’re being treated.

Is it fair? Is it right?

Think about an old woman in her sixties, cleaning houses for her living. Think about that old woman slipping and tripping, breaking two ribs, breaking her arm. No health insurance. No sick pay. Think about that old woman losing her house, losing everything she spent a lifetime working for, because she had to take six months off to recover.

Is that the human way we treat our workers in this country?

Do we suck them up and throw them out when we’re done, picking up a fresher batch that still has some energy left in them?

Have workers in this country turned into production terminals, producing, producing, producing like the milk cows on our factory farms, to be discarded once the first signs of wear have begun to show their signs?

***

We choose our limits.

We decide if it’s crossed a line.

Are you human, beautiful and strong?

Are you slave, tired and cowed?

***

Real change happens when we make it happen.

Real change happens when we examine the society around us and determine if it’s working correctly.

Our human world needs very little. Fresh food. Enough food. Protection from the elements. Shelter. Communities. Learning. Libraries. Health care.

It’s a simple list, a human list.

***

An old activist became cynical and shut her eyes, until the time when the people spoke up again.

How could she keep her voice from rising to join the others?

How could she quell her heartsong, stay silent in the face of so much grace, majesty, humanity?

I support the Occupy Wall Street movement.

I stand for Ayo.

I stand for the homeless man with an unset break in his arm sitting in a park, the one who’d been turned away at the emergency room doors.

I stand for the waitress, working through the night as her husband’s body grew cold.

I stand for me, one person finding a way to simplify, reshape a human reality, in an out of control world ruled by dollar signs.

I am one small voice and I am the 99%.

***

*Edited to Add: Resources and Further Reading

Perspectives from some of my minimalist friends regarding Occupy Wall Street

Meg from Minimalist Woman: Open:Occupy Wall Street 

Chase from Unbridled Existence: Nine Lies About Occupy Wall Street

Annie from Annienygma: Want to Really Hurt Wall Street?

 

Top Reading

Business Insider: Charts: Here’s What the Wall Street Protesters Are So Angry About. If you only read one thing about Occupy Wall Street, I recommend it be this article. It’s coherent, precise, practical, grounded in fact and studded with charts.

We Are the 99%: A tumblr with 89 pages of submissions sharing the stories of the 99%. I shared one story of 99% here, because I’ve always been long-winded, but the stories on this blog are the stories of a people, the stories of you and me. If you read just one thing other than the Business Insider chart, I recommend you read some of the stories shared here. This tumblr blog has the chance of changing a world.

 

Top Resources

Adbusters: A large backer of the Occupy Wall Street movement, Adbusters is a Canadian based magazine that has been in print circulation for many years. It is an ad free publication which relies on subscriptions and donations of photography and articles to continue. It is a powerful resource.  I have long been a fan and supporter of the work Adbusters accomplishes. (Top video resource)

Adbusters Occupy Wall Street: This is the link to the main Occupy Wall Street hub on Adbusters. There is a lot of information on this specific campaign page and it can be difficult to find from the home page, so I gave it it’s own link. (Top video resource)

Occupy Wall Street: This site is a meeting place for keeping up to date on tactical information behind the scenes. It is designed less as a way to share a message with the public and more as a way to ensure more bandaids make it to the medic tent, and carpool rides are organized. If you plan on becoming active with the occupation of wall street, this is your main go-to resource.

Occupy Together: Occupy Together provides a resource for continued information about the worldwide Occupation concept. You will find concrete calls to action here, as well as news and information on the movement. Occupy Together started a directory before moving it off-site to the Meet-up group mentioned next.

Meet-up Occupy Together: This is a meet-up listing space for all of the different peaceful protests happening globally that are using the occupy concept. If you want to find like-minded people in your area of the world, or create a meet-up this is the place to go.

15 October: A day for the global world community to express their thoughts in the streets. A non-violent event offering the chance for world change. It is happening in 951 cities and 81 different countries and it is happening on October 15th 2011.

 

 

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49 Responses to “99% and The Lost Art of Being Gentle With Yourself”

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  1. Meg says:

    Exquisite. Thank you.
    Meg recently posted..Open: Occupy Wall Street

  2. I try not to get too political on here, or worked up about anything, keep everything very light, and very positive, and then there I go talking about homeless men with broken bones and old women losing their homes.

    Ah, well, sometimes I just can’t contain myself, and this story about the waitress at that diner in Hackensack, New Jersey has been brewing in me for a very long time. It’s one of those things that I’ve never forgotten, that I felt was a sign of something fundamentally wrong with the world I lived in.

    You may not feel this way, but I’ve sometimes felt like an alien, bewildered at how cruel the society around me could be, I sometimes joked that I must have been beamed down to the wrong planet.

    And then something amazing happened to me. I managed to shift myself out of the concrete sidewalks I’d grown up surrounded by, and I went to the weirdest sounding place in the world, somewhere I’d always laughed at, for how obviously backwards it must be. Arkansas was a joke in my eyes, a place people didn’t really live.

    Now I know that’s judgmental, and I apologize, I don’t feel that way anymore, and I’ve learned a lot since then, but I wanted to share what it was like for me back then.

    And when I moved to Arkansas I discovered an entire community of people around me who had no understanding of fear or suspicion, pain or violence. Of course it was there a little, but most people didn’t even lock their doors, and it was a city of 60,000 people. Who the fuck doesn’t lock their doors?

    I was welcomed in, and I met people who loved their upbringings, loved their school systems, loved their friends and families and lives. It was like a foresty mecca of higher thought, oddly juxtaposed with dirty fingernails from working in the garden.

    I discovered humane working conditions and bike trails, community gardens and exuberant activism. What a beautiful work in progress, like a city of the future. And it’s that experience, that knowing of how things can be, it’s that experience that makes me write about depressing topics today.

    Because at the end of the darkness is a very simple solution. It’s one that Annie shares, and Meg shares, and Chase shares. The solution is we take it back people, we stop, or slow down as much as we can, buying less and making do, until we have enough moments in our life to figure out what the next step of the solution is.

    We retreat from a system that no longer works, and then we create a human system that does work.

    You know what it impressed me the most about the people down on occupy wall street? It’s the fact of how quickly they have managed to set up a form of self-governance. Talk about some amazing organizational skills. They’re feeding themselves, housing themselves, and even educating themselves on the streets of a city.

    The library was what impressed me the most, and reminded me of intentional communities I’ve seen. They set up housing first, food stations, clean up stations, medical stations, and then when the most basic of life elements were in place, they turned their attention to the library.

    The people of Fayetteville, Arkansas have created the kind of life they’re living, and they’ve done it working within the system of governance in place in this nation.

    I don’t believe in a law that says Chase Bank and Bank of America can randomly raise my interest to 27%.

    Whatever law we have going on that says that’s all right, I don’t believe in it.

    My self-governance law says I don’t use credit cards anymore. I created my own law, a law unto just thine own self, that said I wouldn’t put up with their fuckery. So I stopped accessing their system.

    It’s decisions like that, realized from a place of contemplation, that create change in this world.

    It’s making more decisions like that.

    Anyways. That’s my long unedited ramble on the subject. On Monday we will return to your regularly scheduled programming and I promise to show you a beautiful ray of sunlight and a few simple living action steps you can take to slow down your life.

    Happy weekend everyone. I love you all. :)

  3. Kris says:

    I linked to here from my blog. I love this post and hope you don’t mind that I shared. Profound.
    Kris recently posted..The Lost Art of Being Gentle with Yourself

  4. Tanja,

    You and Meg have truly struck a chord with me today. I have to admit I haven’t experienced some of the cruelty you’ve seen, but I know it’s out there. And just knowing makes my soul ache.

    So many people are asleep to what has happened to us as a society. It’s both overwhelming and exciting to see people taking a peaceful stand.

    I don’t believe these issues can be swept under the rug any longer. People won’t wait to be told by “officials” how to feel. Those leading this movement are far too intelligent to be brainwashed into compliance.

    Thanks for the honest and beautiful perspective.
    Jenny @ exconsumer recently posted..Emergency Fund Savings Update – September

    • “It’s both overwhelming and exciting to see people taking a peaceful stand.”

      This movement appears to have been thoughtfully contemplated, and it looks as though it has a real chance of making lasting change. I figure it’s time for all of us who feel the call, to raise our voices and share our stories. Thank you for being one of those people Jenny.

  5. MelD says:

    Yup, this is why the rest of the world questions Americans thinking themselves and their country so wonderful.
    Go figure… We just shake our heads in wonder when we have minimum wages and obligatory health insurance, it simply can’t and doesn’t happen here.
    MelD recently posted..A gentle ride

    • Your world in Switzerland looks like a healthier model for living than what most of the people in the United States have.

  6. s.e. says:

    I live in Canada so at least nobody gets turned away from the emergency room for things like broken bones. Your post is very well written, it made me cry.

    • I didn’t mean to make you cry. :) S.E., I met the homeless man in a park in Santa Fe New Mexico around ten years ago. He had a makeshift sling put together from a t-shirt and he told me his story. I’ve carried his story around with me for a long time, trying to find the time and a place where I could share it and have it heard. Thank you for reading his story.

  7. Silent says:

    Thank you for this post. It has really touched a soft place within me that I didn’t realize was there. I have seen some of the things you described in several jobs I have worked and it makes me more grateful for what I have now. I think it’s even more powerful that everything you describe you have actually done, rather than just preaching about it.

    I think also, I would have loved to have known Ayo. In your post here, I think I have, a little. Thank you.

    • Silent,

      Thank you for letting me share these stories with you. They roll around inside sometimes, just wanting to be spoken. I’m blessed to have known Ayo.

  8. Linda Sand says:

    When my husband of only a few months was in Viet Nam in 1967 the kitten we were raising escaped from my apartment then got hit by a car and died. I found it in the morning on my way to work and laid it up on the curb where it wouldn’t be hit again then went on to work as I thought I was supposed to do. Once at work, I called my landlady and asked her to bury the kitten before I got home. She was wonderful! She said the neighbor had found the kitten on the curb and they had been worried about how they would tell me it died. Then I started crying and couldn’t stop. I said I had to go home. My boss said no. So, I quit. I had to go home to mourn our kitten and then find a new way to cope with the danger that surrounded my husband. Why could my boss not understand that?
    Linda Sand recently posted..Fixed!

    • That’s it right there Linda. Why couldn’t your boss understand? It’s so little ask for, just the tiniest little things.

      I worked at two places in Arkansas. One place had an absolute “no snow absences” rule. I lived twenty minutes out in the country down slaughter hill. The other place had a kind boss and a carefully policed but lenient snow absence policy. On icy days we got a bit of slack. It seems like such a small thing until you’re commuting home in a small import Hyundai looking at all the SUV’s that had already slid into ditches.

      Thank you for sharing your story here Linda. I go back in time and give you a hug, and then pour you a cup of tea.

  9. Odette Bragg says:

    A very powerful message. Thank you.

  10. This was hard to read. I too, support Occupy Wall Street. The first time in my life that I was insured was when I got married – through my husband’s job. When my younger sister got type 1 diabetes at age 2 and spent a week in the hospital, my mom said she couldn’t even think about what it was going to do to us. We’d always been on the edge of the poverty line. Somehow, all her doctors managed to not only get her hospital stay to be free, but they charged my family nothing and gave us a years worth of diabetes supplies. But we could have just as easily wound up in a shelter or back in public housing from that kind of debt.

    Personally, if I had the means I’d live somewhere in Scandinavia. We are getting screwed so bad when you look at the resources in these countries. And yes, I’d be totally willing to pay more in taxes if my husband or I got a year off when our child was born, free education, good healthcare and numerous other benefits. Thanks for writing this, Tanja.
    Terra@TheSimplePoppy recently posted..A Few Disjointed Thoughts…

    • I was blown away when I watched Michael Moore’s documentary on health care systems around the world. Who knew that France got so much time off for illness and babies? It blew my mind to see how progressive some of the European countries were with their health care.

      I do my absolute best to stay as a far away from the allopathic medical system as I can, but it would still be nice knowing I might have access to it if I ever really needed it. It’s beautiful the way the doctors chipped in to help with your sister.

  11. Thank you for this. Seriously, I needed a big reminder like this today. Although, I’m not dealing with poor working conditions, I’m dealing with poor marital conditions. I promise I will try to be kind to myself today. This is more than needed, and I truly appreciate you putting it all out there!
    Megyn @ Minimalist Mommi recently posted..That One’s TOO Big!

    • Hi Megyn,

      Give yourself a big hug and remember that it’s o.k. to be gentle with yourself, and to demand that others be gentle with you too.

  12. tammy says:

    I knew this would be a good post when i saw the beloved picture of gandhi. i love him and all that he said.
    but then i read your words.
    oh tanja.
    my tears are in honor of ayo.
    and the man with the unset arm.
    and the woman whose husband died and she kept on working because of fear of survival.
    dear god. have we sunk so low in our humanity? yes. the answer is yes.
    it’s so totally about the almighty dollar in this country. i am proud to say i was beamed down as an alien.
    i no longer connect here on so many different levels.
    we have been so arrogant as a nation for so long that we no longer see people.
    we see only polar opposites. and sides. and competition. and we deny our own gluttony and waste.
    thank you darling girl for your very brave voice in this wilderness! it should be on the front page of every paper
    in the land! keep going. keep going. apologize to no one. you are needed!
    love,
    tammy j

    • Thank you Tammy. You’re needed as well, we all are, our voices singly create a loud symphony when combined together.

  13. Thanks for the Post. Just: Thanks.

  14. laura says:

    I have tears in my eyes. This was beautiful. Thank you.

  15. This is a sad state of affairs we live in. Sometimes I’m ashamed to be an American. It hasn’t always been this way, but this is now a land where the rich and greedy have managed to take control of the government, to help shape the laws to help them hoard more wealth by taking away from what little bit those at the bottom have. This is a country where the Haves won’t be happy until they have everything and the Have Nots become the Have Nothings.

    I wonder if that could be part of the answer to my recent breeding question? Breeding is encouraged so as to produce more Have Nots to work and pay taxes to support the wealthy individuals and corporations. Perhaps they’ll get their comeuppance one day. The rest of us can only hope.
    Mike | Homeless On Wheels recently posted..Why Do We Encourage Breeding?

    • Hi Mike,

      Your breeding piece touches on the more political side of the issues for sure. When the laws of a country are designed for something other than peacekeeping and community development, what are they designed for?

  16. Annie says:

    Oh Tanya!

    I’ve tears in my eyes too after reading this and the comments!

    This.. all of this… has to stop. Period. I’ve had jobs where I was told to show up or get fired… and I came in and lay down by the time clock, burning up with fever, so angry at the manager I was determined to cough on her and give her what ailed me… I was lucky though – the owner came in, took one look at me and sent me home. If he hadn’t came in I would have had to work simply because I could not afford a $60 doctor bill to get an excuse to go home and rest — and I didn’t dare lose the job because I had Katie to feed…

    Several years ago I had a horrible headache. The doctors and emergency room didn’t do much cause I was uninsured. When I woke up unable to move my left side or talk they still didn’t do anything because I had no insurance… I healed, grew stronger and resented the system even more…

    At times I want to scream WTF to those in charge, but I know they won’t really listen. Instead I hit them where it hurts, in their pocketbook. Everything that I don’t buy is that much less they can take from me. Every single penny I encourage others to save is that much less going into the ridiculous inhumanity that abounds on this earth.

    This world is still like Upton Sinclair described in “The Jungle.” We are just animals to be used up and thrown away when our usefulness has faded. It is up to us to make it stop.

    Peace,
    Annie
    P.S. I’m linking to this. It needs to be read.
    Annie recently posted..Finances and Frugality

  17. jaime says:

    Preach on, sister!

  18. Monique says:

    Your post resonated with me. Thank you

  19. katie says:

    Tanja, I love what you’re doing here on your blog too! Very moving piece about the kind revolution that’s much needed in the world. I think it’s great that you were brave, spoke out, shared and even if you feel you’ve deviated from your normal vibe, that’s okay, that’s great and that’s what’s needed sometimes.
    katie recently posted..Be Brave

  20. We just got back from the Occupy Daytona event. It was exquisite. I took close to 300 photos of the peaceful demonstration and all of it’s many beautiful people and diverse viewpoints. I’ll let you all know when I get them uploaded. :)

    Love and hugs to all.

    *Edited to add, facebook and flckr will only show 200 of the photos. Here are the links:

    Flckr Occupy Daytona October 15th 2011

    Facebook Occupy Daytona October 15th 2011

    Tanja from Minimalist Packrat recently posted..99% and The Lost Art of Being Gentle With Yourself

  21. Michelle says:

    Hello, Tanja!

    your article was a great read. do you know what ever happened to the waitress? it’s sad what happened to her. sounds like her manager was putting her/himself first, fear of losing their own job that he/she took it out on the server. it’s also sad that people define themselves based on “what” they do and not “who” they are; meaning, “if I don’t have a job I’m nothing/worthless”. Respectfully speaking. I’ve lost plenty of jobs and felt that way. I still kind of feel that way today because I don’t have a “traditional” job, but I’M HAPPY!! :)
    How are you feeling? have you pains gone away from the crash?

    keep up the good work!!

    • Hi Michelle,

      Are you Michelle from Dr. Woody’s office?

      I only held that job for around six months. The waitress was still working there when I quit (in a blaze of glory.) Her story is the most poignant, but there were other stories there as well. There was a man who lived in an underground basement. He was maybe 15 years older than me. We worked the night shift together a lot and I was a chatty sort. He was the most cynical man I have ever met in my life. I’ve never forgotten him and my heart still weeps for him at times.

      There was also a pre-med doctor who worked there as a waiter. He had some strange full-neck twitch he would do. When he was more stressed it was more pronounced. That man was under too much pressure. Can you imagine being in medical school with those long hours and then being a waiter with those long hours? That man was determined, and he was seriously hurting himself in the process. I seriously felt for him.

      The one that got me the most though, was a waitress that I can’t remember the name of at all. She had brown wavy hair, that’s all I remember and she was the most motherly person I’ve ever met in my life. She told me that I needed to get the hell out of New Jersey and go on back home just as fast as I could. I listened to her.

      George Carlin was said to eat there. The guy looked like George Carlin and everyone said he was. There were also Rosicrucian customers and amazingly enlightened beings. It was a fascinating, if not terrifying, experience. :)

      I tell you what Michelle. I’m tired of car crashes. That fall after I was in the big accident, someone rear-ended us again. This time it was a hit and run. I’m at the point where I just don’t like to drive. :/

  22. Linda says:

    Tanya,

    Thank you for your post. You have shared your feelings in a most honest and beautiful way. I like that you added the pictures of the others that shared your experience there. Very touching.
    I feel that I have to chime in with a bit of dissenting opinion re: the occupy movement for you to consider.

    I love America. This has always been the land of the free and the home of the brave. So many many of those that have come before us have died to protect our freedoms. Our freedom of speech, our freedom of religion, our freedom to choose who we want to be. Our ancestors came over from lands far away expecting nothing but the simple opportunity to make something of themselves given the skills that God had given them. It was a time when our families took care of each other. No one felt entitled to health insurance, free college education, entitled to stay in a home that you could not afford. If life dealt you a setback, help came from those closest to you.. your family, your church. We did not put our parents and grandparents into nursing homes, they were revered and cared for. Same with our widows and orphans. Personal Responsibility for our well being was wisely taught to us from a very young age. Life was often tough and lean (much tougher than people nowadays can even imagine) , but was as worth living then as it is now.

    This has always been the land of equal opportunity. But we have lost sight that equal opportunity does not mean equal outcomes. There have always been people who have come from very humble backgrounds and have become quite successful in life. There are others that have been given every opportunity in life only to waste it away and end up on the streets. There is every variable in between. Fortunately, we live in a land of choices. If I don’t like the credit card rates, don’t use that bank… or better yet, don’t go into debt in the first place. Our grandparent’s came from a generation that saved for something before they spent the money to buy it. If they couldn’t afford it, they did without. If we buy a house, we have a choice as to how much of a house to buy. Looking back at pictures of past generations, they lived in houses that might have been cramped for the size of their family, but they could pay for and still eat. They didn’t expect a bailout. They didn’t expect others to forgive their debt or let them live in a house they were not paying for. As for jobs, they did what they had to do to provide for their families. No, working conditions were not ideal, they never are. There will always be good employers and bad. We have the choice to do our jobs to the best of abilities. No job is too humble.

    There are big issues we need to address in this country. I was not a fan of the government bailouts for the same reasons expressed above. We do need to look out for each other, care for each other. But that charity comes from our hearts and minds as individuals not from the government. We are headed towards a crossroads….. do we become a society who feels entitled to be provided for or one that comes together to provide for ourselves? The choice will be ours…

    Thanks again for all the posts that you and Patrick share. They are always wonderful and insightful.

    Linda

    • Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts Linda. I think it is wonderful. I can only speak for myself.

      I don’t like the interest rates, so I don’t use credit cards.

      I dug myself deep into debt, and then I dug my way out.

      Cora’s house was paid off, but she couldn’t afford her property tax.

      She was going to lose it if we couldn’t come up with $3,000.00. We were lucky that we could. It was a matter of timing.

      I live debt free in a tiny house in someone else’s back yard, helping to pay their expenses. I do this because we couldn’t afford to live on our own and pay her expenses.

      We have a cabin in arkansas we’ve tried to sell for years. The market won’t take anything for it so we keep it and pay a nominal mortgage payment on the land.

      Entitlement is one thing Linda. I am entitled. I am a rich little princess playing poor, but I have cut my own hair, shopped predominantly at thrift stores, and never had a pedicure in my life. I am the lower class making less, often much less, than twenty thousand a year.

      I’m not talking about me here. I struggled and it sucked a lot, but I personally managed to come on through. I can be set with a Dairy Queen job now, if that’s all I can manage to get.

      I’m talking about the people who are dying in foreign countries though, the babies dying of starvation. I’m talking about our neighbor down the road that I’ve known as long as I’ve known Patrick. This neighbor is in his late fifties, he’s sick, he can’t work in his profession anymore and his profession isn’t hiring anyways. He worked hard all his life but he lives on a rich man’s property in an old rv doing lawn maintenance for lot rent. This neighbor deserves better by the system, and he worked hard and long hours of the sort neither of us have ever known before.

      The choice is always ours. I speak for others.

      • Linda says:

        I agree with you, Tanya.
        You and I are great examples of personal responsibility. I think it is wonderful that when Cora was in a time of need, you and Patrick were able to help her with love.

        I too live debt free, worked hard to get that way, our family of 4 lives comfortably on less than $30,000. We shop at thrift stores, don’t buy anything that is not on sale, and live below our means so that we can save for our future retirement. We garden & can our produce for the winter. We repurpose, recycle, and reuse. If things are broken, we find a way to fix them. We do our best to live naturally and green as this is what makes us happy. None of us feel “entitled” to anything. We have raised our children with the ethics that the world does not owe us anything. What we are, what we become, and how we choose to live are totally up to us. Real Life is not “Fair” so get used to that early on and you will not be disappointed. When illness and hard times have fallen, we have been surrounded by friends and family and we surround those who are in need. We have no jealousy of the rich and realize that there will always be starvation and strife in the world. Those issues we support through the missions at our church. They are the feet on the ground in 3rd world countries and in the best position (in our eyes) to do the most good. Our time, talent, and treasure is freely given both locally and abroad. Again, the beauty of the freedom of choices… we can give where our heart leads us, not where someone else decides. Everyone has his/her own calling in life and should follow it.

        I’m not asking anyone else to live how we do, I just hope that by having this great discussion ( of which I think are some of the greatest things in life! ) it causes whoever is reading this to think and reflect.

        I LOVE great discussions of ideas! I always come away with a new perspective on life.

        Linda

  23. Revanche says:

    Of all the many thoughts in this post, Linda’s comments speaks to me most poignantly next to your stories. Your post reminds me to be grateful that I am now in a place where, as a manager, I can easily grant my employees the basic rights and considerations that so many people are afraid to ask for lest the price be their jobs.

    And Linda’s comments speak to my personal code of conduct. There are so many points of personality responsibility that people have failed to live up to, for themselves, and then for others.

    It really is, at times, as simple as conducting your life as simply and fruitfully, as mindfully and as productively, as you can to sustain yourself, your family, your loved ones. And to reach out to others in need should you be blessed enough to have more than you need. In fact, reach out when there are others in need even if you don’t have more than you need, because oftentimes, they need it more.

    When we stop taking care of our personal affairs, or stop looking for better ways to care for ourselves and to care for others, I think we do lose our ability to be more humane, and thoughtful and perhaps, moral – in many ways. I think we find ourselves in less than favorable positions and start focusing on that fact and we lose sight of how to be better people. We forget to look out for our fellows and that translates into actions that form parts of our society that we really don’t like anymore.

    I use “we” generally, but I really mean our society at large. There has been a general migration away from core values like integrity and personal responsibility and what that means and how to handle it. I’m not sure how we find that again, but I do know it starts at home. I really hope that we choose to create a society that allows us to be self-supporting, and proud of how we live and conduct ourselves again. We’re long overdue.
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  24. The message is so overwhelming and touching. Thanks for sharing this.
    Kristine Mercie recently posted..Aging and HGH Therapy

  25. Allison says:

    Thank you. I just came back to re-read this, 6-or-whatever months later, and I’m moved and glad I read it all over again. Fresh off resigning from a good job that wasn’t good for me, and thinking deeply about social change, it was just what I needed.

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