Oh my gosh! I've just spent the last hour reading countless AOL comments in regard to a piece written by a single woman in her 40s who has been out of work for two years. She wrote about feeling invisible and having no available services/resources ending up selling EVERYTHING. There were 30 pages of comments! Most were sympathetic. Many spoke about being in the same situation. A few stuck out with criticisms - take a job, any job; go back to school; why don't you volunteer?; get over your pity party... Most of the sympathetic understand that those of us unemployed would take ANY job but none are being offered us; they know that to go back to school takes money; volunteering might not be possible because it involves gas, etc.; and I won't even get into the pity party finger pointing.
I stopped reading the comments after about 15 pages. I couldn't stand anymore. There are so many others out there suffering and worried and anxious just like I am. I'm not the only one who has lost a home and pawned all my jewelry. At least I still have clothes and my books! Many who commented are my age and spoke about ageism that is alive and kicking in our country. In general, however, most people were kind and supportive and tried to encourage this woman.
I do live in kind of a cocoon. At times I do feel as though I am the only one out there having a tough time. Tonight my eyes were opened a little wider and I have a less negative image of myself. There are sure a lot of 50ish folks out there having to start over with nothing. I am not really alone. Hearing about and knowing other people's problems doesn't make me happy but it did make me more aware of what is going on beyond my own little world.
I think we are in trouble nationally and need to address the issues of increasing employment opportunities, especially for those in my age group. Health insurance still is up in the air. The housing issue remains a mess. No one can survive adequately on minimum wage. I hope this blog increases people's awareness of those struggling as this woman's article did. Some people who are out of the loop thanked her for her honesty. What we really need is more kindness and understanding and not judgmental criticism. If you aren't walking in these shoes, you really don't know. Tonight my oldest came home from Show Choir practice complaining of being hungry, adding, "I'm always hungry." Sometimes I wake up hungry too. He settled for a leftover bowl of 4-Bean Chili (the pot of chili that never ends) over spaghetti but thankfully I replenished our cheese supply, getting a block of cheddar to grate myself and save $1.20.
My prayers are increasing and going beyond myself to the countless others both better and worse than myself who are struggling in some way. Please pray for stability, healing and prosperity for all. During this season of giving, I feel as though some are choosing to forget about the hardships still existing for so many.