“Poor people are, as a rule, a bit more generous. We understand what it might be like to have to beg even if we have never done it ourselves. In fact, there’s data to back me up. The latest research shows that people of low socioeconomic status are more likely to be altruistic than their higher-class counterparts. In 2011, the bottom 20 percent of earners gave a higher percentage of their wealth away than the top 20 percent.”
During these times of staying close to home, I’ve been trying to educate myself more on so many of the problems which plague our great country. I’ve gone through four eye-opening and profound books on racism before turning my attention to homelessness and poor people in America.
I recently completed the book Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America by Linda Tirado.
While Tirado uses some colorful language throughout the book, I appreciate her brutal honesty about what it means to be a poor person in this country, as she spent most of her life living as one.
But Americans don’t really want to know the truths that exist when it comes to poverty. In short, the less they know the more they can deny its existence. Then, they can go about their daily lives irresponsibly spending their money without having to consider those families who can barely put a decent meal on the table.
Tirado writes, “Working your balls off, begging for more hours, hustling every penny you can, and still not being able to cover your electric bill with any regularity is soul-killing.”
At the start of this post, I quote Tirado as saying, “Poor people are, as a rule, a bit more generous.” Well, that depends on how you look at it. People with money are in fact generous, but it’s usually to themselves.
They live a life filled with empty possessions – buying more and more in order to continually feed that feeling of happiness they crave. Instead of finding happiness in sharing their good fortune with someone who can barely cover their electric bill.
We brand poor people as “lazy” and “irresponsible” and refuse to part with our hard-earned money when they will just “waste” it on drugs or alcohol or both. If you fall into that category, I suggest you read this book. Tirado does a marvelous job clarifying the stereotypical hypocrisy wealthier people often have about poor people.
But I’m sure you won’t.
You’ll go back to living a life where the sole beneficiary of your benevolence is yourself and your children, who are probably already more spoiled than many adults working their balls off, begging for more hours, hustling every penny they can will ever be.
America needs to listen to the truths we so often and easily ignore. We need to understand how we live a life of privilege and should never, ever take that for granted.
As Tirado says, “The question is, how can the rest of the country live knowing that so many of us have to live like this?”
That’s something I can’t easily answer, but reading her book has certainly made me stop and think about who will benefit most from my charity.
We’re asked to give financially all the time in some capacity. Maybe it’s time we ask ourselves if those are really the people who need it most.