I’ve had some questions ever since I read this article: What Happens When the Poor Receive a Stipend? What the author seemed to learn, was that when an unearned stipend was given to poverty level families, they benefited and changed their previously predictably negative futures for the better. The younger the children, the better the futures, since the children had less negative history to rework or unlearn.
We’ve all heard variations of the saying, “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.” I don’t think that this article is in defiance of that idea. I think it just points out that poverty has to be overcome in order for someone to find success, even in a “free” country with good human ethics, laws and traditions. If you show someone how to fish, but don’t provide a way to get the fishing lures, hooks, line, nets, or other materials needed to do the job, it seems to be that the lessons are in vain. Let enough time go by, and the student even forgets how to use the items should they stumble on some. For example: I have learned some software skills (Access, to be exact) three times with expert levels of accomplishment during the classes – only to forget it because I haven’t used it later on. We flippantly and accurately note: “If you don’t use it – you lose it.”
So, I guess I see that we have to make an impact on the poverty before we can see the resident of poverty find their ways out of that state of being. That’s what the author of the article seems to have found out.
This seems to defy what I have heard from my church life teachings, though. Most of the time, I have heard lessons about how to be thrifty so that there is ample money for any situation. I’ve been taught that if you are careful to cultivate skills in both learning and skilled labor of some sort (artistic pursuits would count), then there is no reason to believe that you can’t provide a means of support for yourself, your family or your church/ministry. Many of the teachers of these ideas came from a challenging economy themselves that we now call The Great Depression. They still said that if you were willing to work, then you should be able to find an honest way to eat.
As I read many accounts of that time, there were plenty of folks who were honest and looking for some kind of work to help their families with. But they went homeless, hungry and died as a result.
Don’t get me wrong – I trust God’s plan is better and mightier than any plan a human mind might devise. I’m just wondering what my role should/could be in understanding what God’s point of view is concerning these things. I am going to be thinking this through a lot, as I join the ranks of “the poor” once again in my life. I don’t see that I’ll ever leave this rank or role either, since I am now older and not seeing anyone interested in employing me in any gainful wage situation.
I don’t always think it’s age that’s holding me back – since no one knows I’m “older” until they meet me. Most of my resumes only get tossed into a pool of candidates and not even chosen for an interview for no reasons I can find out about. I suspect it’s because I’ve worked as a temp/contractor for nearly 10 years, though that should prove that I’m trainable, and that my skills have been kept fresh. The reality is that I am stuck with a minimum wage job, with part time hours; and that’s the best I can do in spite of having an Associate degree and years of Administrative Clerical experience. I have no idea why I can’t find anything better.
I am not lazy, I work hard at the job, and then I work hard at home cleaning and keeping my home and car well maintained (where I can do it without cost). I send out resumes wherever I find an opening that makes sense to try for (can’t work at a job 50 miles away for a wage that won’t support the gas or car repairs as well as a low rent). I check several job sites out at least three times a week, and keep a record of all the jobs I’ve submitted resumes or filled applications out online for. I am listed with several staffing agencies and am regularly contacted at least once a week for them to submit me as a candidate for a client (of course!). I will get an interview about once every three weeks. I never get the second interview, though it always seems to be a good interview. Even the staffing rep says the feedback from the client about me was very good to excellent. My test score percentages for all the software skills range from the mid 80’s to 100% (proofreading/spelling tests are my forte it seems).
The reality is that too many jobs have been eliminated, and where I might have competed against 20 or so applicants for a job posting in 2004 – I am now competing with more than 100 candidates for a position. This means that my resume may never even be seen by the hiring manager. They just get overwhelmed by the response, and just pick out the first few good possibilities and toss the rest in the trash. This is not personal, and I have heard this from three different hiring managers, so I try to remind myself that it’s not because I’m not valuable or that I am discarded. It’s just that I am anonymous in the crush for employment.
Because I believe that God is bigger than a fax machine, and that He can make my resume fall in just the right spot for someone to see – I will believe that my situation is just what God wants it to be – for now. My job is to be humble and not object. I am to be gracious and keep my words kind and patient for those who would ask me what I am doing that isn’t working. They just don’t know, and it’s good that they have good work that keeps them clueless, as far as I am concerned. I would rather they had the jobs that they do! I just wonder if we understand who needs help and what is “help” when it comes to the poor?
Ideas? Comments? I’m interested – so please share!
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