Who's fault is it that you're poor? Today, I overheard one man arguing that the rich white men who run our country are to blame. It got me thinking. . .
It’s Friday, it’s payday. Foolishly, today I also decide to do laundry, which means I need quarters. With the Citizens Bank having a line out the door, I go to the check cashing place around the corner.
Waiting in line, I hear an agitated man start to talk to the teller.
“I’m not mad at you, I’m mad at being poor. I’m mad at the system. It takes advantage of poor people.”
Valid point, that can definitely be true. Unlike at a bank, PLS Check Cashing takes a percentage of the check you cash. If you don’t have a bank account, the only way to convert your hard earned money (or government handouts) into actual useable cash is to give part of it away.
It is screwed up. Many of these people either don’t have another option or don’t know they have another option.
He proceeded by saying “You know I love this country but I also really hate it. I’m mad at the rich white men who run it.”
In that moment, my empathy flew out the window.
Being frustrated at how a business works when a percentage of your money is taken? Understandable. Blaming these “rich white men” for your poorness? Questionable. Not that his race and gender really matter, but here’s a white man, blaming other random white men for his problems.
Now I don’t know his story or his previous interactions with these so called “rich white men,” but I’m going to take a guess and say that they haven’t medled in his life. I bet he’s had just as much of an opportunity as anyone else to get a job and to become financially successful. He may have grown up with a rough childhood or he may not have had the resources to learn financial skills, but I bet it’s no one else’s fault but his own.
It’s troubling to me how popular blame is becoming in today’s American culture. Everyone loves a scapegoat, right? Currently, the blame seems to be falling on the white man, or even more specifically, the white, rich, straight man.
Because I believe an individual is an individual with his own right to pursue happiness in America, I have a hard time understanding the blame game. How can we get people to understand that once they take responsibility for their lives, they’ll find so much more success. . .
It pains me to see people living in this disturbing fantasy where they blame all their problems on not even a specific person, but a group of people so far removed from their lives. That must be a bleak reality. If only people knew that if they take ownership, they can actually change their lives.
While observing this man, the most friendly woman working there assured me I’d get my quarters soon. She must have noticed my face, reacting with minor shock, to the situation.
I told her “No worries, thank you. This is better than TV.”
After I got my two rolls of quarters, she told me “Enjoy your weekend. Too bad you’ll miss the rest of the show.”
“Hopefully there’s not an encore,” I said as I walked out the door.
I really respect that woman, she was single handedly cultivating a welcoming and friendly atmosphere at this check cashing place in a pretty rough neighborhood. An employed woman, earning money, doing her best, and not blaming others for her problems. This isn’t about her being a woman or that she’s black, or anything about her identity.
It’s about one individual taking ownership for her life while working to make a living, and another who chooses to evade reality while blaming others for his problems.
Do you think if someone showed him how to become financially successful, he would become financially successful? It may sound like this question has a simple, obvious answer, but it’s really quite complex. Maybe he would he prefer to not work hard and to not change his life drastically.
I don't know his situation, but what I do know is that it's always easier to blame someone else.
Do you think he’d be willing to let go of his problems if an opportunity came around for him to improve his entire life?