First- Holy Shit! The Donate Button works. I don't know who you are, but that helps get my bank account out of the red. You are awesome and after spending this morning alternately being yelled at by charity people and sobbing down the phone to Wonder, I have a wee bit more faith that humanity is not mostly peopled by asswipes. Okay, it's still mostly peopled by asswipes, but still. If you were here (and I had electricity) I would make you the bestest dinner on the planet and drink to your longevity. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
Now on to the topic of this post.
I am a huge fan of the philosopher John Rawls
. He basically turned the golden rule into a blueprint of how society should function with his veil of ignorance ideas on justice. I try to live by that idea. Before I say something mean or judgmental, I try to think of myself in that person's place. This doesn't always work, I'm human and fail. But I try.
Over the last week I have noticed two distinct types of behaviors from social service people, and these behaviors are dependent on what kind, if any, help they are going to give.
Behavior #1: Non-judgmental, helpful, kind. Returns phone calls and offers as much assistance as they can as promptly as they can.
Behavior #2: Accusatory, judgmental, condescending and out and out mean. Vicious, actually. They do all of this and don't offer help. Actually, they seem pretty put out by the fact that I am asking to begin with.
In the last week I have been yelled at for: being poor, not working enough, working too much to qualify for welfare, being a single parent, not receiving child support (seriously, that's one thing that I really have no control over), being poor and having no excuse for it (sorry, I'm not a drug addict, I don't have a bunch of kids, and I' not disabled). I have been treated like shit by more people than you can imagine. Certainly by more people than I could imagine a week ago.
And every single person that treated me like shit refused to help. But they told me that after berating me for all the poor choices I've made with my life. They could have saved me the time and effort with a simple "no" but they had to spend an average of 7 minutes each telling me how awful I am.
So I have to wonder why the hell the viscous people went into charitable work to begin with. Did they start out nice? Is it that after being hit requests for assistance that they can't help with day after day, they have just given up on the helping people aspect of their job and now use their time to vent their petty anger out on their clients? Would they have been nicer to me if they had the assistance to give? (There I go, trying to put myself in the place of the awful social workers).
I could take all that meanness coming at me if I knew that at the end of it, I could get the heat back on at home and the Kid wouldn't have to spend another night bundled up like a polar bear on the living room floor reading by candle light. I could take a whole lot of shit if there was help attached to it. But I can't take the shit in place of the help. And I don't think I should have too. I don't think being poor is a crime. I don't think poverty is a moral failure. I would think these things even if I had money (and at one point, under President Clinton, we did) because you have to imagine that the only way to create a just society is by designing a society where you don't know what you're place in it will be. In a just society, you don't know if you are going to end up a poor single mother or a rich tycoon. But I want to live in a society that was kind to both.