Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged

@Raelove (16813)
Saco, Maine
October 11, 2015 7:57am CST
I just read a post on another site that intrigued me and that, as so many things do, got me thinking. The post was about how people perceive their financial situations, with some making things sound more bleak than they actually are. Speaking from the perspective of one who has never lived much above the poverty line, I can address what it's like to not be able to "keep up with the Joneses," and having a very good reason for it. I remember running into a woman I know not that long ago, one who knows me well enough to know that I live a very frugal lifestyle, partly by choice, but mainly out of necessity. During the last couple of years, I've experienced several financial setbacks that I've never recovered from. So I have literally had no money for anything extra, such as clothes, dinners out, movies, etc. In any case, during our conversation, this woman mentioned that I should join her and a few of her friends for a "girls' night out" the next time they go. I politely thanked her and declined, saying that I really couldn't afford it. She gave me an odd look as though she didn't believe me and said, "Well, we go to such-and-such, and you can get a meal for just $5." I replied, "Well, I don't have $5 right now to spare." And she couldn't have looked at me more oddly had I just stepped off an alien spacecraft. This woman has a very good job, owns her own place all paid for, and has never had to scrape that I know of. I'm learning that many people who did scrape as young people seem to forget what it was like as they get older and become more comfortable. We are not all so lucky. Some of us continue scraping all our lives, and then we retire with not much of an income to show for all the struggles we've been through. So this woman simply could not comprehend the concept of not having $5 to spare for a cheap meal. I quickly saw that it was no use pursuing the subject, so I took my leave of her as kindly as I could. Which leaves me with the thought that there is so much misunderstanding of poverty at least here in the U.S. What baffles me is why people who do have comfortable lives and enough to live on with a bit leftover for luxuries are so resentful of the rest of us who can't keep up with them. Is it guilt? I've actually known folks who are very well off, but perhaps for my benefit, they complain to me that they must watch every penny because costs are so high. Are they trying to sink to my level in an attempt to make ME feel better? Why are poor people such an annoyance to the rich who have every reason to be happy in their own lives? It makes no sense to me whatsoever. I may be poor in money and things, but I am so rich in other ways that many of those people aren't and wouldn't recognize if they saw them. I also have been down long enough to feel empathy for others who are as well. My advice to people who do have the means to enjoy life is to get out and do it and to stop worrying about the rest of us who can't. If we were as big of a drain to their well-being as they seem to think we are, then their lives wouldn't be so great either, now would they?
18 people like this
14 responses
@PhredWreck (6051)
11 Oct 15
I think those people may not actually realize what it is to have no extra money. They can have money in the bank in a savings account, and yet tell people they are 'broke' and can't afford something. Most of them have never had to get a meal out of a trash can. My cat is actually an extravagance. The food and litter doesn't cost much, but that small amount can make the difference between having a meal or going hungry for me...but the companionship I derive from him makes up for it. There are some people that just can't get their minds around the concept of not having anything extra.
9 people like this
11 Oct 15
Oh, and your title...the first thing I thought of was telling that to a Judge in court, but I don't think he/she would see the humor in it.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
That's very true, and I truly am happy for them. I wasn't always. I spent years being envious and bitterly so. But I know now after a lot of soul-searching that my life is the exact result of all the choices I've made, good, bad or indifferent. Thanks for your input! By the way, I've had those "should I buy cat food or ice cream" moments.
4 people like this
11 Oct 15
@Raelove I figure 9 1/2 years ago, I was literally homeless and living in an abandoned house with no utilities. I may not have much now, and live hand-to-mouth, but it is way much more than I had back then, and I am proud of it.
5 people like this
@LadyDuck (157285)
• Switzerland
11 Oct 15
I am always surprised to notice how many people cannot understand that even 2$ can be too much for a night out.
5 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@LadyDuck There are many who cannot grasp the concept, I'm learning. My late partner often said that we are all "one job loss or illness away from being on the sidewalk." He wasn't far off.
4 people like this
@Inlemay (16542)
• South Africa
11 Oct 15
@Raelove for everyone - currency in the home has a different value - to the rich $2 is meager to the needy $2 is a fortune
6 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@Inlemay That is an excellent way to put it. Thanks!
3 people like this
@TheHorse (65741)
• Pleasant Hill, California
11 Oct 15
I've saved some money and don't have to worry about whether I can afford my Tom Kha Gai on any given evening. But I am never resentful of or mean toward the hard-working poor. But I admit to being frustrated with those who have grown used to living off of welfare and social services, and refuse to look for work. It's a part of why I'm so into teaching self-reliance to the poor kids I work with.
4 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
More and more states are clamping down on the abusers. The way I see it is that, if I have enough to get by on, I really don't care much about how others are managing. They have to live with the stigma of abusing the system, not me.
2 people like this
• Philippines
12 Oct 15
@thehorse but how does the lesson/self-reliance concept/skills stick if they are in such an environment and live with such adults?
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
12 Oct 15
@hereandthere That's part of the problem. It's been called the cycle of welfare or the cycle of poverty here, and it takes different forms in different cultures. It's never easy to break away from poverty, but it can be done. Trouble is that not everyone possesses the skills to even begin to know how to do it, especially in an economy such as that in the U.S. where even hardworking people are not able to manage on what they earn.
3 people like this
• United States
11 Oct 15
My first marriage to a Navy guy, we made $85 a month. Try living on that in Hawaii - that was my 'poor time'.
3 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@AbbyGreenhill And it appears you've never forgotten it. It's what keeps us humble.
@Susan2015 (20580)
• United States
11 Oct 15
@AbbyGreenhill That is what we remember. I'll never forget only having two dollars in my pocket at one point in time.
1 person likes this
• United States
11 Oct 15
@Susan2015 We survived and now I can look back on it.
1 person likes this
@pcunix (212)
• Middleboro, Massachusetts
11 Oct 15
I sometimes have to explain that while yes, I could spend the $30 or whatever it is, we have to watch our money carefully and if it is not in the budget, we aren't going to do it. Actually, I worry about some of our friends who don't seem to realize that medical expenses can be very high as we get older - I think they are spending dangerously. You know what you can and cannot do just as i do. I'm not sure some others really do.
3 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@pcunix I had my days when I spent frivolously, and regre them now. Many people spend dangerously, because they mistakenly assume that the bottom can't fall out of their lives. The way our country is right now economically speaking, that's foolish.
@valmnz (12759)
• New Zealand
11 Oct 15
I understand exactly what you're saying. While I do have the money for small luxuries in my life, I no longer lead the sort of life I did when I was working. As you say. Life can be rich in many ways other than financially.
3 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
Yes, it can, Val. Money comes and goes, while some of those other joys like nature, music, art, etc. are eternal.
2 people like this
@mawhite (242)
• United States
11 Oct 15
Yes. This. You wrote so clearly something I struggle to articulate many times, often because I get so worked up over it. I can't begin to tell you the number of times I've had conversations like this. We lost everything in the 2009 collapse and it's taken us until just now to have a tiny bit of breathing room, only to have an emergency surgery and the subsequent medical bills knock us off our feet again. And people can be very cruel and ask hurtful questions. I think that resentment you write of comes from maybe that just-world hypothesis and victim-blaming. It's emotionally brutal! Thanks for a great post writing out what I think but often can't get out clearly!
3 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@mawhite I wish I could say "My pleasure," but it isn't pleasurable to write about human suffering and inequality. My heart goes out to you. I've lost a lot in my own life and can relate to how it sensitizes us to the opinions of others. In the end, money cannot save anyone from the inevitable. I like to think that, if I ever came into good fortune, I'd spend the time being thankful for it rather than concern myself with those who aren't so fortunate. Take care, and thanks for sharing your thoughts.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53935)
• United Kingdom
11 Oct 15
Regarding your title - aren't you doing just that to the lady who was only meaning to be kind by including you in her plans for an outing? Yes. perhaps she was a little insensitive to your situation, but do you really think she resented you?
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
No, I'm sure she didn't resent me. And I apologize for misleading anyone into thinking that. I didn't judge her. I merely realized that I wouldn't be able to explain to her why I couldn't go out with her and her friends, and I could see that she would never understand. I began the post by mentioning an article about this very topic that I read on another site in which an individual took great offense to people who exaggerated their lack of funs. This person seemed to be putting all less-than-affluent people into one basket. I used the anecdote about the woman to illustrate how some people can misunderstand a poor person's situation.
2 people like this
@jaboUK (53935)
• United Kingdom
11 Oct 15
@Raelove Ok, sorry if I misunderstood you.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
12 Oct 15
@jaboUK It's all good! And I always appreciate your comments!
1 person likes this
@noni1959 (3187)
• United States
11 Oct 15
This is a great post. Since my divorce I live pay check to pay check never being able to live comfortable. Once in Oregon living with my daughter in a house we all just bought together I will do better but will continue with my budget and being frugal. Situations can change rapidly. I have a friend who spends like mad and can't understand when I say I can't see a movie and have a meal because I opted to buy veggies and cook at home. I do see her but many times have to say no to going out. It's rough because unless you have friends on the same economic level, you drift apart. It's tough to date as well so I just don't. On a good note being in dire straits half the time have me learning to can, DIY and more.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@noni1959 Thanks. Yes, situations can and do often change rapidly, and that is when you find out who your true friends really are. I can so relate to not being able to keep up with my friends. But the other side of that coin is that I have learned where all the bargains are. One thing comfortable people don't realize is that they throw so much of that hard-earned money away, as they have never been forced to learn how to economize. Thanks for your thoughts, and you hang in there. Things will get better for you!
@Susan2015 (20580)
• United States
11 Oct 15
Yes we don't have to have a lot of money to be rich in many other ways. I know some rich people or well off people who are very miserable. I've always been at the poverty level myself. There were times when I had two dollars in my pocket but I got through it. I was brought up to appreciate everything that I have. I don't need or want expensive things, that's not who I am or what I'm about.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@Susan2015 I remember grocery shopping for my family of 4 with just $5 not that long ago. It was tough, but I did it. I see a greater pride in being able to face and overcome such challenges than moving through life never being challenged. It builds character, if nothing else. Thanks for your thoughts!
1 person likes this
@allknowing (65075)
• India
12 Oct 15
It is not how much you have but what you make of you what you have is the true route to happiness.
2 people like this
@blitzfrick (2912)
• United States
12 Oct 15
My ex-boyfriend seemed rich to me. Owned his own house and a couple of strip malls, to boot. He was a businessman, lawyer, and developer. I am not rich, live on a fixed income, have to budget and watch my expenditures. And yet, he poor-mouthed to me. The gall!!! But, in his defense he had his generous moments. Did you notice I said "moments"? Did you notice I said ex-boyfriend?
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
12 Oct 15
@blitzfrick Yup, got both "notices." I spoke with a woman I know today and told her of another friend of mine who moved across country recently, and is living temporarily in a mobile home there until she gets settled. She's been apologizing to everyone for her current housing circumstances, and when I told this other woman about it, SHE wrinkled her nose and said, "Oooohhh, a mobile home. I would hate that, too!" Like you said, the gall! I lived in a mobile home for 15 years and loved it! But I guess there's a stigma there, too, as some people just wouldn't lower themselves to that level. I give up.
1 person likes this
• United States
13 Oct 15
@Raelove absolutely. I don't even use the euphemism anymore, but say I live in a trailerhouse and in a trailer park. And then note their reaction, if I'm talking to them in real life. Eeeeuuuuwww living in a trailer park....eeeeuuuw, trailer trash. I can see it all over them. That attitude is their problem, let them deal with it, I say.
2 people like this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
13 Oct 15
@blitzfrick What those judgmental people don't realize is that my radar is always up instantly when I hear comments like that, as it tells me beyond a shadow of a doubt how they really feel about me. They're called Freudian moments, and while those two women may think it just reveals how THEY feel about mobile homes, what they're failing to see is that it casts a bad light on people who do live in them, or have, like me! Since time began, there have always been rich people and poor people. I doubt that any amount of griping or finger-pointing will ever change that.
1 person likes this
@GardenGerty (99285)
• United States
17 Nov 15
It is the fact that you have integrity that makes you an irritant. You refuse to jeopardize your peace of mind to keep up appearances. You do not "need" them. I listened to a friend moan and groan when our kids were little about what they could afford compared to others in the same positions. She wanted lots of different luxury things. This was 35 years ago, and she felt like saving $40 on something was not relevant as it was piddly, so why try. I looked at it as an amount to pay one of my bills. I heard "we can't afford it" most of my growing up years, but used different words with my kids. There were things we chose not to buy, basically so we could pay the bills. Both are adults, and both tell me that they never felt deprived or poor. Being frugal is a choice.
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
18 Nov 15
@GardenGerty I heard those same words a lot growing up from my poor mill-worker parents. But we never went without. It taught me the value of a dollar, and also has enabled me to survive times that would do other people in. Now that I'm a bit more comfortable, I have the wisdom and respect that comes from the experience of having "been there." Thanks!
@amadeo (65836)
• United States
11 Oct 15
I do not judge.Who am to judge?
1 person likes this
@Raelove (16813)
• Saco, Maine
11 Oct 15
@amadeo Exactly. But many are not as wise you.