Friday, December 9, 2016

Are the Poor Lazy?

1. Some say that poverty is because of laziness. Poor people have the culture to be lazy and abusive. This is NOT NECESSARILY TRUE. Laziness is not the monopoly of the poor. Even very rich people can be lazy. To say that poverty is due to the culture (of laziness) of some people is TO BLAME THE POOR, it is TO ACCUSE THE POOR.  This blaming the poor sees the poor as PRODUCER OF BAD SITUATIONS. It is to say that poverty is the fault of the poor. The poor put themselves in bad situations--it is "ïn the culture of the poor". 

2. Laziness as associated with poverty is a sign of a bias. Some of those who say it think that they are not poor; that they do not belong to the poor. To say the poor are lazy is a sign that poverty is not well understood. 

3. Some say that poor people have the attitude and behaviour of laziness different from the richer classes. The richer people are not lazy. Poverty then is a cuture of laziness too. Again this is an error. Many poor people who may be lazy are not the only lazy people inthe world. There are also the lazy rich.  Many of the poor work hard. Many of them strive hard.  

4. Most poor people are STEREOTYPED as lazy. But there are SO MANY POOR PEOPLE WHO WORK. The labor force of our countries are FILLED WITH VERY POOR PEOPLE. Work is a basic value for the poor AND MANY POOR PEOPLE LOOK FOR WORK, they are not lazy, THEY ARE LOOKING FOR WORK. Without work how can they feed their families? 

5. Unemployment is primarily due to lack of employment. It is not due to laziness. There are just NOT ENOUGH JOBS TO ACCOMODATE MANY PEOPLE. Lack of employment is a better explanation to poverty than laziness. 

6. To have a job gives the worker an advantage. BUT FOR THE POOR EVEN WORK IS NOT A GUARANTEE THAT HE/SHE HAS THE ADVANTAGE IN LIFE. Their salaries are not enough to feed well their families, bring their children to school and care for them in times of serious illnesses. Poor people who work remain, somehow, in the level of poverty because they do not receive sufficient income to pull out of misery. THEIR POVERTY S NOT DUE TO LAZINESS.

7. This bias that the poor are lazy and abusive leads to the idea that the poor do not stand on their own feet--they can be helped only by "welfare". In our local terms e say "dole out". Hence the relationship of other social members towards the poor is that of "pitying the poor" and giving them "dole outs". But then because the bias that the poor are lazy and are culturally low, even the dole out system is criticized. The criticism states that the dole out only encourages the poor to stay low in culture. The poor are even abusive.  

8. We may not also be aware that poor people who do not work or cannot work are INCAPABLE OF WORKING BECAUSE OF PHYSICAL OR INTELLECTUAL LIMITS. They may have been sick and handicapped by their illness, they could not find a suitable job. They may not have been able to go to school and develop their intellectual skills. Hence many work opportunities are closed to them. How can a handicapped person find a job? How can an illiterate find a job? It is not easy. IT IS NOT BECAUSE OF LAZINESS BUT BECAUSE OF LIMITS. 

9. The poor need help. It is not even a choice to seek for help. It is a NECESSITY. The poor need help TO SURVIVE. But prejudices and biases look at the poor as lazy and so the poor just want dole outs and gifts. These prejudices and biases even discourage giving the poor help. 

10. Yes, there are the lazy and abusive poor people. But there are lazy and abusive rich people too. To call the poor as lazy is a DISPROPORTIONATE GENERALIZATION. It is to label all poor as lazy. It is unfair. 

11. Finally, let us add a Biblical note. Jesus identified himself with the poor--the "least" in society. We see this in Matthew 25. What we do to the least, we do it to Jesus. Jesus joined the ranks of the poor and identified himself with the poor. IT WAS NOT MOTIVATED BY PITY OR BLAME. The poor are those who are really in the conditions that crush them; they are so powerless. They are so voiceless. They are so marginalized. Jesus joined them, he went "in solidarity" with them. 

12. Blessed Charles de Foucauld had an insight here. He asked himself why he should travel by first class in the train when Jesus travels in the third class, among the poor. This is striking. If we put ourselves in the position of blaming the poor, is it possible that we prefer riding in first class and avoid riding with Jesus in the third class?

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