Living in a state of absolute poverty equates to weakness, laziness, and criminal behavior. This is the subliminal message taught to all Americans regardless of age, religious association, and location. Lamentably, all of us at any given point in our lives subconsciously agree with this socially constructed message. It is activated in a guiltless and straightforward matter.
Take for example a panhandler begging for money on a busy street. Most of us observing this act would wonder why this person is not capable of getting a job like everyone else in the country. Then in a split second, our thinking switches from wonderment to malicious intent. A picture of a dead-beat and criminal manifests in our brain. This image gives us permission to see the panhandler as a swindler. Before long, it is presumed that this person is running a scam to get our hard earn money.
Instantaneously, a feeling of alienation for this individual’s actions, appearance, and existence seizes our mind. This entire exchange may have taken a matter of seconds, but in that time; we subconsciously remember the subliminal message against poverty and re-construct our contempt for the poor. This is done all the time with citizens that lack access to sanitation, clean clothing, healthcare, education, and a habitable shelter.
As a nation, we are malevolent towards the impoverished. Even though, the Great Recession propelled nearly 10 million people into destitution. Alas, they too will have to learn how to climb out of poverty by their own exertions because no one will show benevolence for their circumstance either.
Although it has been said many times and in many ways, the rhetoric is usually the same:
People in poverty need to feel ashamed of their inability to improve their circumstances. While, the economically prosperous individual should feel contempt for the poor because they cannot bootstrap and rise-up from their own individual laziness.
And the message continues…