Thursday, May 24, 2012

Assuming the Worst

Last night I had an incredible experience capturing another swarm from my beehive. This time, the gals, led by two queens, decided to make it challenging and landed nearly 35 feet in the air in a maple tree in front of my house. Too high for my gear, I called a local beekeeper, and he and is wife came over at near dark to see what they could do. He brought with him a ten foot pole attached to a bucket, and a tall orchard ladder. But it wasn't enough. Still too high.

So, given that I come from a long line of engineers, I found a suitable old shovel handle, shaved it down to the proper diameter, and we inserted it into the end of his 10 foot PVC pole. Perfect. Up the ladder he went, and with coordinated effort, we got the swarm down. Well, half of it. Queen 2 and her followers are still up there, out of reach. We will try for them tonight.

During our conversation, the subject of social programs came up. His opinion was that they should all be cut, then gave two or three examples of people he knew who were on disability or unemployment and, he felt, taking advantage of the system. Why, one of these people had a big screen TV! Can you imagine? And more than one car!

I let him talk for awhile, then told him that I had been on unemployment for over 2 1/2 years, and have not been able to find work outside a few grant opportunities, and not for lack of trying. I wondered what he thought, looking at my small but beautiful home, my one car in the garage, my bird feeders.

It is interesting to me how some people quickly assume the worst about others. I have been guilty of that myself. He doesn't know how that person got a big screen tv, or more than one car. Besides that, does being on disability or unemployment mean you should look like you are poor (which you are)? Should I give away or sell all things that show I have worked most of my life simply because now I am on unemployment?

Why is there such animosity toward people on assistance? Is it some perverse form of jealousy? Here are the facts as I have experienced them. I was on disability once for an illness and was paid less than $800 a month. I had Medicare and no other assistance. Do the math. Would anyone in their right mind WANT to live on less than $800 a month? You can earn a little extra by working, but not much, and if you cross the magic line, they take away some of your money. You are disabled after all, you should live in poverty.

On unemployment, I am on a fixed income. My lifestyle (and expenses) are reflective of my previous salary. Why would I or anyone else want to take a reduction of 2/3 in their income to "freeload" off the government?

By the way, I have worked and paid taxes since I was 15 years old.

So next time you find yourself so bored that you have to make up stories in your head about others less fortunate and assume the worst about them, stop and think. Yes, there are people who take advantage of the system, that is true of rich people as much as poor (and maybe more so, think loopholes). But the majority are good people who need help and are doing the best they can. They, and that includes me, want to work, want to contribute to society. I challenge you to pretend you have no job (if you do have one). Go online and try to find work that pays you enough to maintain something close to the lifestyle you now enjoy. See what job seeking looks like in 2012. It is a very different world than just 10 years ago.

What is that saying, something about glass houses and stones?

Karma will find a way to give us the opportunity to walk in others shoes, whether we want to or not.

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