Sunday, February 24, 2008

holes in the bucket

Thanks for all of your comments on my last post. It's funny because I feel like a failure in these moments, that if only we'd been better at what we do then perhaps this sort of thing might not keep happening. For me, it's a loss. It's a weird dilemma, you want to be on the winning side of poverty and yet there are no winning sides. Non profits are futilely at the end of the line trying to patch social issues after they've already been damaged and battered beyond repair on their way downstream. Being at the front end, sitting in the policy tank has always made more sense and yet it's never been something accessible to a shelter girl like me.

And yet if those suits ever had me at the table you can imagine the things I'd say and not a lot of it nice. Perhaps that's another reason why I'll never get there.

Because see, folks only want to hear about what's working, about how their work has made a difference, how their bill created more jobs or more health insurance for kids. And whether that bill passes or not they go home to a nice house and food in the fridge. I am guilty of it too, I didn't tell you about the 25 people who slept outside last night because we were full and even though it's raining bureaucracy prevailed.

And perhaps it's another thing too. Sometimes I wonder if we all stood directly in the face of the heaving weeping desperate horrifying ridiculous problem of poverty in America if it might drive us all stark raving mad.

27 comments:

Amy Y said...

If only those suits would sit down for even an hour with you...

And I'm sure you're right about how stark raving mad we'd all be... I'm mad every time I read your posts but then I turn off my computer and return to life as I know it. With a roof over my head and food in my fridge.

It makes me feel like an asshole and I know there is more for me to do than feel bad.

hele said...

Sister I honor you.

crazymumma said...

I did not read the last post yet...going now.

thailandchani said...

I think you're essentially correct. If everyone considered poverty to be a human rights issue (which it is), they'd stand stronger and perhaps change core cultural values.

I don't see it happening soon.. so all you can do is what you can do - and that might have to satisfy you for now.

The solution is too big for one person.

flutter said...

until the government wants people out from under its thumb, we will rely on you to sing the truth.

Family Adventure said...

It CAN be done. It's being done in other countries in the world...it's not perfect anywhere, but it's certainly better than in the US. So why is it so hard to get it done in the richest country in the world? If we could figure that out, we might also be able to solve it...

Heidi

Sober Briquette said...

Oh, jen, I read that post and it never once crossed my mind that you had failed that family. I can absolutely understand that it's not what you would wish & hope for them, but people being people are going to make mistakes. It's separate from the ills of the system.

Now, this post? Yes, it is a problem that incredibly intelligent, compassionate experienced people like you (as much as I can't believe there's anyone else remotely like you, I desperately hope there are!) aren't being heard.

You are making a difference, and I'm sorry that it will never feel like enough.

Janet said...

I think you nailed it in your last sentence.

Keep telling your stories, dear jen. You've made me perceive the world differently in the months I have been visiting you here. That's often how big change occurs: one oblivious person at a time.

Kellan said...

I think you are right - I think the "not actually seeing" of the poverty, day in and day out - the not actually experiencing what it "really" is all about - is what makes us live in sort of denial. I think we would go mad - if we were to have to truly face it - you are so right!!

Kellan

Kellan said...

I'm so anxious to meet you - I can't tell you! I'm scared to take this trip, for many reasons - but very sure it is something I need to do and I am very excited! I can't wait to meet you! Kellan

ms chica said...

We are all called to fight in different ways. Your constitution in is stronger than most. Those suits can't do what you do, yet the world would inevitably fall off it's axis if it wasn't carefully balanced by a bunch of dicks in suits.

The world be better if everyone simply did the right thing...but it takes everyone.

Slow Panic said...

the majority of us are to terrified to even admit there is a poverty problem in this country. thank you for not only making this your life, but sharing it with us as well. for making us aware.

Jenn said...

Little differences, Jen, add up to gigantic things.

But I know what you're talking about, very well, and I'm sure our hearts are broken in the same spots.

The haves and the have-nots...one more thing to keep me awake at night.

Joker The Lurcher said...

i get the stark raving mad thing very much...

painted maypole said...

amen

Her Grace said...

As a teacher, I've often thought that things would be different if those of us at the bottom of the ladder were calling the shots. It seems that, as you climb the ladder of authority, you lose a lot of common sense. I imagine it's the same in your line of work.

cinnamon gurl said...

I also didn't think you'd failed that family. Last weekend, someone asked me why people are homeless. Now, I'm no expert like you, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about this, especially since we have a family member who is constantly on the verge of homelessness, and is homeless right now. She has a PhD, she once had a thriving, professional career...

Anyways, one of the things I said when I was asked was that I don't know how a person can get out from underneath the weight of abusive or addicted or mentally ill parents who are also poor. I think people can escape those legacies if they don't grow up impoverished or homeless but I know one kid whose mom was couch surfing when he was a teenager, and there was no room for him at those places. So he slept at the parkade or our apartment or friends' places, but he's now a father of at least three kids, all with different mothers, he's been in and out of jail, and really... how could it be any different, given how he grew up? So I really don't think you failed that family.

Angela said...

I know I could not do what you do, I would go stark, raving mad and it would break my heart. Your compassion, insight,strength, honesty and integrity shine through.Thank God you are out there doing what you can, you are making a difference.

Blog Antagonist said...

You can't take the weight of the world upon your own shoulders, my dear.

What you do matters. But you can't do it alone. That's why you, we, all have to keep fighting.

Magpie said...

one day those suits ARE going to sit down with you.

Redneck Mommy said...

Through your actions and your words, you are making a difference, my love.

I can't wait to sit with you again.

cce said...

Just wanted to let you know that though you might feel ineffectual you have had a profound effect on me...just back from my training stint with Elder Services, I start work with my first client next week. I have already been told that there are limits to how much I can help these very needy people, laws and insurance and blah, blah. I'm beginning to know a little bit more about these things you speak of. But thanks for getting me out there and involved. You did it. It takes a village.

Wayfarer Scientista said...

I think you would be awesome in front of those suits but yes, they would be terrified of you.

And I do think you are spot on about that last sentence. We can only take so much in before we go mad and so, if we aren't forced to, many look away.

KC said...

I can see you, though, changing the landscape through policy too. Your perspective needs to be heard.

Kyla said...

Oh you. You didn't fail them. We can't prevent others from making mistakes, even when it feels like we should.

You're in the right place, doing the right thing. I'm proud of you for doing what you do with such limited resources and opposition.

QT said...

I fail to see your failure in the previous post. :)

Keep telling us - we need to hear it.

Lawyer Mama said...

You're right. It may drive us mad. But every now and then we need the blindfold to be ripped from our eyes. That's what motivates people to change the world and to make a difference. I like to think that *that* is what you're doing. One post at a time.