I wish people would be more compassionate. :<
What does that mean, exactly?
Let's pretend we have a young boy sitting here with us. He's from a very poor family. The family line has been poor for several generations so there is no "in-family" knowledge of any other way of life. Let's say he's 13 years old. His name might be Antoine, Bobby, or Carlos. Let's settle on (rolls dice here) on Antoine.
Antoine lives in the south side of Philly. If things don't change he'll end up poor, or dead from gang violence, or in prison.
SwordGuy says, "Hi Antoine. I'm SwordGuy. Here are all my friends from the MMM website. They are glad to meet you to."
Antoine says, "Hi."
SwordGuy says, "We just want you to know that we feel really badly about the situation you are in. It sucks to be poor and to live in a gang-infested neighborhood with bad schools."
Antoine says, "So what? Does that make you feel better about yourself? What's in it for me?"
Antoine is a bright fellow, you see. He's figured out that empathy for his situation, by itself, isn't worth a damn to him. He'll still be hungry. He'll still be poor. And he doesn't give a rat's behind that we'll feel better about ourselves for being such caring, compassionate, empathetic people. I don't blame him.
SwordGuy, being an honest and very direct fellow, says, "Well, you hit the nail on the head there, Antoine. But not to worry, we're waging a 'War on Poverty' this very minute. In fact, we've been doing so for 50 years! Things are bound to get better for you."
Antoine says, "50 years! You folks have been fighting a war on poverty for 50 years? When are you going to win it? I'm hungry when I go to bed. I'm only 13 years old and I'm already tired of being poor!"
"Well, not such good news for you there, Antoine," answers SwordGuy. "According to this Pew Research study (http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/01/13/whos-poor-in-america-50-years-into-the-war-on-poverty-a-data-portrait/
), the poverty rate in 1964 was 19% and in 2012 it was down to 15%. So, at that rate, you can sit on your ass awaiting victory and your family members will no longer be poor in another 200 years. Unless you're one of the lucky ones who get out of poverty at the front of the line. Tell me, Antoine, do you feel lucky?"
"FU and your friends! And your F'n empathy!" answers Antoine.
Antoine doesn't need platitudes. He doesn't need our empathy. He needs help because getting out of poverty is hard.
We can try to help him out as a group, by trying to get appropriations for needed programs to help him out, but that's a slow process that, frankly, hasn't been working very well. A 4% drop in poverty over a 50 year period is in no way a rousing success rate for this approach.
Since the War on Poverty sure as hell isn't getting the job done, he's going to need to plan to make it on his own while leveraging whatever help he can manage to find along the way.
And that's where we as individuals can help out.
We can set correct expectations, that it will take hard work, smart work, and time to get out of poverty.
We can supply knowledge that will ease the way in getting such institutional help as is available.
We can provide training.
We can provide employment.
We can loan tools or other resources.
We can teach the mindset of "Improvise! Adapt! Overcome!".
We can provide sample plans that can spark different ideas about how to improve their circumstances.
We can help organize folks to band together and help one another out.
And we can aggressively do all we can to squash the idea that the poor are helpless and can't make things better for themselves.
And educated on these fields. Social science has been researching and validating things like privilege, microaggressions, tokenism, and the glass escalator for years at this point. These are entry level concepts for people studying these fields or living these realities. Talking about them is not whining or anything like that and it's not up to debate whether they exist or not - they exist and we need to talk about these issues to fix them. It's several data driven fields of study.
Talk about them all you want. Study them all you want.
Shucks, that might even help someone someday - provided that absolutely nothing in that process includes the idea that the poor are just helpless pawns in life who are totally incapable of doing anything for themselves.
That's because teaching people that they are helpless when they are not is just plain evil.