It’s 1am, and I’m so very tired. I didn’t get to sleep last night until 4am (which is actually now yesterday morning…weird), and only slept until 10am, and have been up ever since. I went out for a drink with my boyfriend and a friend after work, with the intention of having one drink and then going straight home to bed after, but instead I came home and got sucked into Facebook drama. Now I’m only still awake because I’m operating on fumes of irritation and annoyance, due to the complete ignorance and lack of empathy flooding my Facebook feed at the moment. Oh how I wish that my career didn’t require daily checking of social media, so I could get away from it all for awhile.
I made the mistake of reading up on the newest Duggar family drama – in case you haven’t heard yet, one of their sons is a pedophile who molested multiple of his sisters and other girls outside the family. When the father found out, he “reported” the son to a family friend who was a state trooper. The trooper sat on the information until the statute of limitations ran out and the son couldn’t be formally charged with the crimes. Meanwhile the daughters and son received their own shitty version of homeschooling abuse counseling that makes me so angry I want to scream and throw things right now just writing about it. After reading all of this, I was upset, so I wasn’t thinking clearly. Had I been thinking clearly, I would have stepped away from the Internet and avoided all reference to the Duggar family. Like an idiot, I went to their Facebook page to see what other people were commenting. You see, I somehow forgot that the world is full of ignorant asshats (I know, I know, how is that even possible to forget? But I did. *sigh*) And of course their page is full of messages of support and love in the family’s time of persecution. *$#$@#$Q#$#%^^%^#$%@$%!#$!@#!!!!!!!!
(Taking a deep breath.)
Anyway, then I went back to my Facebook page, and proceeded to look at silly, lighthearted stuff to try to save my sanity. You know, dance videos, kittens, funny memes, and all that. Until I accidentally clicked on the feed of a girl I know from high school. She’d posted an inspirational story about a homeless kid who graduated with honors from his high school class. Awesome, right? Except she posted it with a message about how (I’m paraphrasing, here) every child in our country has the exact same opportunities, and anyone who says otherwise, or tries to make excuses for not making it out of poverty/graduating with honors/making something of themselves is just lazy and not trying hard enough.
You see, she and I both grew up in the same lower middle class community. We lived in the country. Our public schools were excellent by most standards – no violence, great class sizes, clean classrooms with plenty of light, good air, places to sit, space to be outdoors, quiet places to hide out in the library, no trouble getting books for every kid in the class, a strong community that worked together to make sure that every kid had a way to get to school, even though it was a good 20 minute drive from town, a selection of great electives, teachers that really loved us, plus plenty of afterschool activities to enhance our horizons. Even so, logically speaking, even an imbecile could see that we were not getting the same level of education that students at larger, better funded schools got. I find it difficult to believe that given that very small leap of logic, it’s difficult for this person (and every other person who “liked” and commented on her thread, agreeing profusely and looking pretty fucking bigoted in the process) to understand that her position that all things are equal for every person in our country is fundamentally flawed.
This being said, once a person realizes “hey, I bet some kids had it much easier/better than me because they lived in other places”, it’s not that hard to think of things from a different perspective and think “hey, I bet some kids had it harder, too”. Because they do. They have it MUCH harder. Children in disadvantaged communities often don’t have a safe route to school. Many aren’t receiving adequate sleep or nutrition at home, making it difficult to learn. Their classes are overcrowded and their teachers don’t have the time or resources to provide individual attention. Many schools lack the budget to provide each child with a textbook for every class, meaning that the children who’re missing out on extra help from a teacher still don’t have a book to take home to try to grasp the necessary knowledge on their own. Our educational system is run on a ridiculous system of testing that requires kids to memorize just long enough to test out, then start memorizing other things (which is affecting more than just the poor kids, but when you start to stack up all of these disadvantages from day one, how in hell does anyone expect these children to achieve?). The real wonder is that many do achieve. They’ve still got teachers there that love them, and fight for them, and some make it out. But not enough. Education is the answer to stopping the cycle of poverty and violence, but it takes money, resources, and above all, for the rest of us to stop hiding our heads in the sand and pretending that everything’s all rainbows and lollipops. As many have said, it’s hard to pull yourself up by your bootstraps if you don’t have boots to begin with. Here’s a great article on the myth of bootstrapping, by the way.
There’s no easy way out. I’m not trying to even pretend that I have an answer, or even a guess at an answer. But I’m not going to sit back and ignore the issue, and I’m not going to politely refrain from commenting when people post vaguely racist posts about how sad it is that “some folks” want to just complain and be lazy all the time, when “we all have the same opportunities”. Check your privilege. Get some empathy. Grow the hell up and start living in the real world. And people actually ask me why I don’t like to go home…