From Rock n’ Roll to Rock Bottom: A Story of “ya’ never know”

I have friends from all walks of life… Including… duh duh duuuuuhhhh CONSERVATIVES. If you’re at all familiar with my point of view, you’ve probably noticed that I’m not. That’s not to say that I’m purely left, bleeding heart, liberal either. I lean a bit to the right on a number of issues. Publicly poor shaming ain’t one of ’em, though. I am about as sick as I can be of the judgement and blatant hatefulness that I see directed at our nations poor. The meme that gets shared, to much applause that talks about that lousy welfare recipient and their fancy iphone and the other one that shows a fully stocked fridge on the welfare side and an empty one on the “hard working American” side. I especially like the posts that have decided that a person who’s got a nice car doesn’t deserve assistance. What is all of that about anyway? Guess what? Nobody is getting rich off of welfare, anyone can get an iPhone and you don’t know shit about a persons struggle or how they got that car. So, kindly… Cut that shit out! What would Jesus really do people?!?!
I’ve decided to share my “welfare” story. Look, I couch surfed a bit in my early twenties but I’ve never been homeless. I’ve not had money for groceries but I’ve never gone hungry, but there was a time, not very long ago, that I needed help.
My husband is a musician and has played keyboards for the same band for almost twenty years. It hasn’t always been wine and roses, though. In his line of work he gets paid when he’s working. For a few years, the work was nil from November through April. We also had the issue of finding alternative work in the down time. The city we lived in just didn’t have it to offer. Aside from the occasional band who scratched up enough money to record, he just didn’t have enough work. My flower shop was struggling… I mean, barely hanging on and… SURPRISE! I found out I was pregnant with Lucius. We had been in such a financial predicament that I had been forced to choose between essential bills, and lights beat health insurance. I had let my policy lapse and was in no position to re-up. I was immediately terrified. Robbed of the joy of finding out that I was pregnant. Elation was replaced by trepidation and panic. I peed on that stick and when the second line appeared… I cried. I was completely and utterly, filled with fear. I knew that the cost of the doctor visits alone was enough to ruin us. I couldn’t even consider the hospital stay and, God forbid, any complications. I felt completely hopeless.
Turns out, we were in such dire straits that we qualified for Medi-Cal. I have always been kind of embarrassed about that. How unfortunate that I feel that way. You know, my husband and I both have worked since we were kids, we have never stopped working and will continue to work until retirement. We are the embodiment of the American tax payer! Why then, should I be ashamed? Why should anyone be ashamed to need a hand up? Haven’t we all needed help at some point in our lives? Look, I don’t feel that our system is perfect but the majority of our people who receive some sort of public assistance are not abusers of the system, they are not selling their food stamps for drugs and they are not cheating the system. The support that we have all voted into place, can be life or death for some people. Seriously, life or death. But we keep passing around judgment as if we are fit. You may have judged me if you knew. Maybe I shouldn’t have had a top model car seat or stroller since your tax dollars were paying for my medical expenses, maybe I should have been forced to go to the county hospital or a clinic instead of choosing my doctor and my hospital. Or maybe, and this is just a possibility, you should mind your own damn business.
See, it’s the spirit in which these memes are shared that is most disturbing. We have become a society who voiced their opinions loud and proud and without remorse through social media. We say things from the safety of our handheld devices with little regard for the power of the words. See, I’m doing it right now! But it seems that we have forgotten that our voices carry. The words spread like a plague.
With every “like” and every “share” we perpetuate the sentiment that people who currently don’t need help are somehow, better than those that do. Are we all not human? Aren’t we on the same team?
There have been many studies on the inherent compassion of human kind. Turns out, we are hard wired for compassion! Indifference and hatred are learned behavior! Is the light going on for you yet? We are literally built to help each other! It’s how we survive! Isn’t that fantastic?? We NEED each other! All of us! Yay! It’s so freaking great, right?!?!
If this post makes one person pause before they click share on that next shity meme, I have accomplished my goal… But let’s not stop there. Let’s instead, be kind and generous in practice, let’s remember that anyone of us is one major tragedy away from being devastated. That the world could change in an instant and it could be you that needs a hand up… It could be you.
We were making our dreams come true, he was a rock n roll musician and I was a small business owner. We were living the dream! One economic shift and it was us… It was us.

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