The True Meaning of Poverty

Today’s post is inspired by John Scalzi’s post – Being Poor – Whatever.

Here on BreakingNorms, my number one goal is to provide an alternative opinion, a different perspective, a slightly new spin on something that we think we know so well. Today’s post is on something we all know how to define: poverty. The mindset of those who are poor however, is something completely different entirely.

I normally ask those who have time to go visit the blog post, but this time I implore you to visit his post.

These twelve (in no particular order) were perhaps the most eye-opening ones for me:

  1. “Being poor is hoping your kids don’t have a growth spurt.”
  2. “Being poor is thinking $8 an hour is a really good deal.”
  3. “Being poor is relying on people who don’t give a damn about you.”
  4. “Being poor is making lunch for your kid when a cockroach skitters over the bread, and you looking over to see if your kid saw.”
  5. “Being poor is needing that 35-cent raise.”
  6. “Being poor is six dollars short on the utility bill and no way to close the gap.”
  7. “Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.”
  8. “Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.”
  9. “Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.”
  10. “Being poor is a box of crayons and a $1 coloring book from a community center Santa.”
  11. “Being poor is checking the coin return slot of every soda machine you go by.”
  12. “Being poor is a $200 paycheck advance from a company that takes $250 when the paycheck comes in.”

I think we all forget how luxurious the word choice is. To be able to choose to do something different is a luxury that some simply do not have. It is not up to us to scorn them or judge them for the position they are in. To think that we are better because of a lucky break or being born in nurturing environment is a travesty and is a thought we should all do well to eliminate from our minds.

I hope that you’ll take a moment to really let this sink into your mind and carry it with you the rest of your life. We may not all have grown up with hardship, but we all should do well to treasure and appreciate everything we have because it would be a shame if we waited until it was too late to do so.

Finally, I leave you with his final statements, which in my opinion, stand alone as if it were a poem.

“Being poor is people who have never been poor wondering why you choose to be so.

Being poor is knowing how hard it is to stop being poor.

Being poor is seeing how few options you have.

Being poor is running in place.

Being poor is people wondering why you didn’t leave.”

What were some of the most eye-opening statements for you?


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4 responses to “The True Meaning of Poverty”

  1. butterflyxwings says :

    I was really struck by the soda machine one. I never thought of that. I guess being poor also means being creative. Oh yeah, and some of these freelancing websites have people working on a project for $1 an hour. When I read the $8 deal thing, I can definitely believe it.

    • Ben says :

      Man… $1 an hour? That sounds crazy to me… but people still have to manage somehow don’t they? It definitely puts things in perspective.

  2. Josey Schwartz says :

    “Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.” Damn dude. This one stopped me dead in my day-to-day tracks. Thanks for doing this one Ben.

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