The point I’d like to make is that we all need to be less judgmental of other people’s choices. I read news stories about people in poverty or in debt, and they are always followed by a string of comments about how the person deserved what they got because they made a poor choice, and what did they expect.
Well, it’s very easy to sit in comfort and say, ‘I would never do that’. But the truth is that if you had to live in those circumstances, you probably would do that, or something equally ill-advised. First, because often all of the options are bad. And second, because the ability to make good decisions is not a natural virtue — it’s an ability that fluctuates according to one’s situation. We are all Charlie, to some extent.
We also need to stop thinking of poverty as a condition that anyone could just work their way out of if they were really trying. Social mobility hasn’t been a statistical reality in America for forty years — and that’s not because people suddenly got lazier. It’s because the environment changed.
We aren’t all working with a full set of spoons, silver or otherwise. Some of us have physical challenges, some mental, some financial. You wouldn’t tell someone with cancer that they could get better if they were really trying, right?
Then don’t imagine that anyone could just shake off a mental illness, or pull themselves out of poverty, if they wanted to badly enough. We want to. Almost to a person, I promise, we all want to live better lives.
-Excerpted from an essay published on Pocketmint
Find Karawynn on Twitter @pocketmint1