Work, work, work!

by theodotdoron

Outside my grocery shop sits a dishevelled man tightly gripping several grimy editions of the Strassenfeger, a Newspaper written and published by former homeless people and sold by current ones. We would like to believe that what this man really needs is a job, and so I overheard several strangers passing him by, dropping good advice instead of a coin into his bosom. They remind him to get a job, as though he hadn’t thought of this occasionally. Supposedly, though, his problems run a bit deeper than lacking discipline to hold up a job.

One story in the Bible puzzles me over and over. It’s the one of the distribution of talents. Its found in Matthew 25. The Master in the story distributes bags of gold (or talents, as it is more commonly known) unevenly. There is absolutely no social justice in that story. The fact that your mum probably was no crack addict, you most likely did not witness your dad pimping out your sister, and your parents didn’t abandon you to fend for yourself, all this speaks for you to have had a better start than some who did experience those things. Absolutely no apparent justice to be found in those circumstances. None whatsoever.

Folks shouting that they are self-made are probably those who advice homeless people to get a job. Sometimes the odd’s are just stacked up against you. Sometimes, shit just happens. Being poor is not a free ride into unthinkable crime, though, and one ought to ask the question what poverty actually is. Poor people in the USA, is that necessarily an oxymoron? Warren Buffett does not seem to think so. In fact, he goes on to say that  “low-income Americans get an exceptionally raw deal”. Yet, compared to a rickshaw driver in Bangladesh he will in all likelihood fare quite well. Wikipedias first sentence describes poverty as general scarcity. According to this part of the definition, the self-made man is a poor bugger indeed.

Yesterdays prison theatre featured a piece on a man who struggled his whole life, wanting to make a living, but continuously came up against the most random of insurmountable hurdles. In that vein, I have met men who worked hard their whole lives, only to now be paying dearly for someone else’s injustice committed against them or one of their loved ones. Sometimes they paid with their health, yet certainly in all cases with their cash. Life is a bitch and circumstances certainly don’t mint coins in the currency of hope. Unleashing our fury over this mishap towards those who fold under the heavy weight of existence is certainly a sign of moral bankruptcy. Recognizing we are all at one time or another poor in spirit is a good starting point for justice.