Sunday, September 14, 2014

I want to work. Why won't anyone let me?...

I want to know exactly what I'm supposed to do.

I came east to look for work almost a month ago. I started putting in job applications even before I started the journey out here, and I've put more applications in since I got here. Nothing.

Well, not much. I've got a meeting scheduled on Tuesday with someone about some editing work, but as I understand it, that's a one-off deal, not actual ongoing employment. It's a good thing, but not nearly what I need right now, which is a steady job.

I've also not had any luck finding a place to live, because everyone wants to rent only to students or people who've already got work, even if they have enough money to move in. I'm in a motel right now, but I can't afford to do that for too much longer, and could soon find myself out on the street.

Except, you know, how am I supposed to look for work and go on interviews from the street? At minimum, I need a safe place to sleep and a place to shower and wash my clothes and hair on a regular basis. Yet, apparently, those kinds of places do not exist for people who cannot provide it for themselves.

Oh, and a phone. Don't forget the phone. Have you ever tried to look for work without a phone? No? Well, let me tell you, it's impossible. In fact, these days, it's well nigh impossible to do a job search without reliable access to the Internet, since that's the way most businesses take applications now - even fast food joints now often require job applicants to fill out an online application. Yet, I see and hear comments from people all the time to the effect that people who are poor don't deserve to have a cell phone or internet access, usually right after compaining that "those people" are too lazy to go out and get a job anyway.

What's the message I'm getting from all this? Plainly, that anyone who does not already have a job, how has fallen on difficult times for whatever reason, does not deserve a job.

This is making me very angry right now, especially since when I was growing up I was told over and over and over again that if I did the right things - got an education, stayed out of trouble, honored my parents, and remained ambitious - there would be a job for me and a roof over my head and at least enough food on the table to keep me healthy.

Apparently I was lied to. I resent that because, you know, I'm intelligent, I have a college education, I gave up my life for several years to take care of my dying mother (which was a 24/7 job in itself, but I also worked in a work-at-home job, and a good one, for the entire time my mother was ill and for nearly three years afterward, until I got laid off due to the poor economy), and then when I couldn't find another paying job I started doing volunteer work so that I would feel like I was contributing something to society.

But I guess that isn't good enough. I guess I'm supposed to just quietly go off somewhere and starve to death, or get sick because I don't (or soon won't) have a roof over my head, or fall victim to violence on the street, or just fall over from exhaustion because those with nowhere else to go are apparently not even allowed to sit down, much less have a place to safely lay their head to get a few hours sleep at night.

That is not the culture I grew up in. The culture I grew up in helped people get back on their feet and into productive work. Those in positions of leadership didn't attempt to game the system so that once people are down, they are denied a chance to get back up again, which is what seems to be happening now.

You know, I want to work. I don't want to die, cold and alone out on the street. But it looks very much like there are powers in this country who think that's all I deserve. Many of those folks, at least the ones in positions of power and influence, who are on the news and in the papers all the time, spend a lot of time standing up and proclaiming what good Christians they are. Well, as far as I can see, they never read their own scriptures, because the Jesus in the Bible I grew up with was all about helping people be the best they can be, and not putting a foot on their neck so that they have no chance to get up again.

This is my declaration to the people who don't think I deserve another chance, most of whom don't even know me, that I am not going to go quietly along with their program. If I can't find work because I can't do the minimum necessary to be a successful job hunter and then employee, I will kick and scream and let the world know exactly how hypocritical these folks who already have everything they need are when they praise God out of one side of their mouths and curse or ridicule those who don't have much (if anything at all) out of the other side of their mouths.

There is a scripture in the New Testament, in the Gospel of Matthew, chpater 25, verse 40, which says, "And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." In other words, Jesus said that whatever you do to the members of society least able to help themselves, you have done the same to him.

Well, I've got news for the people I described above: If you consider yourselves such good Christians, how do you justify calling the poor and the unemployed the names you do? How do you justify just assuming that anyone who needs help getting back on their feet are drunks or drug addicts or lazy or stupid. Because, if Matthew 25:40 is true, then you just called the one you claim to worship a drunken, drug-addicted lazy idiot.

There's another scripture, one that I used to puzzle over, again a passage from the Gospel of St. Matthew: "And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." That's Matthew 19:24, and I never could figure out why it would be so difficult for a rich person to go to heaven.

I get it now, after watching the behavior of certain leaders and opinion makers in this country who claim to be followers of Jesus but who appear to instead be following the Gospel of Gordon Geckko, the character portrayed by Micahel Douglas in the film "Wall Street", who famously said at one pont in the movie: "The that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind."

Funny, that. I don't remember anything that sounds remotely like that coming out of the mouth of Jesus in the Gospels. It also says in the Bible, in Matthew 6:24, that "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." With mammon, of course, being material wealth, otherwise known as greed.

And one other Biblical admonition, as long as I'm going there: In Matthew 7:12, it is stated as "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would do that men should do to youm do ye even so unto them." Then, in Luke 6:31, it is said this way: "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." In less Elizabethan language, "Treat people the way you want to be treated." This has been known as the Golden Rule, a term that appeared in the late 1600s but was a part of ethics and morality for much longer.
Only, too many of those same politicians and opinion makers seem to follow the other Golden Rule - "Do unto others before they do it to you." In practical terms, what that seems to mean to them is, take everything you can from everyone you can, even those who can least afford it, before they put you in a position of not being able to gather more and more material wealth for yourself, in some cases more than you would be able to spend in several lifetimes.

I apologize for turning this into a scripture-quotation frenzy. And I apologize, too, for sounding as if there are not generous people in the world, Christian and non-Christian. I'm living proof that there is a lot of generosity out there, and I'm grateful that I've been gifted with some of that generosity, which I intend to pay back or pay forward, or both, at the first opportunity. But the fact remains that people - espeically the people I know - don't have much to give, and shouldn't have to give it anyway, because in many cases, they're just barely getting by and have troubles of their own.

My argument is with the people who try to stand in the way of other people's prosperity so that they can have more for themselves by making it more and more difficult for those who have fallen on hard times to return to prosperity, and who try to justify their obstructionism by waving their religion around for all to see, another concept that the Bible I grew up reading did not recommend.

Honestly. All I want is a job so that I can take care of myself and not have to ask family, friends, or the goverment to help take care of me. My family and friends cannot afford it, and some of those same people I was criticisng earlier want to fix it so that the governemnt won't be able to afford it, or be able to do it even if it can afford it, either. I don't want to "start at the top", and I don't want a palace to live in and a fancy car to drive. But I think every human being deserves a roof over their head and enough food on the table to eat, and a job to earn those for themselves if they are capable. Even me.


jana said...

Where exactly are you now, Elaine? Perhaps I can put a word out to my networks and see if that bears any fruit.

littlemissattitude said...

Jana...I'm in the Washington DC area. However, if the meeting I have tomorrow doesn't pan out, I may be coming back to Southern California as soon as I can get a reasonably priced train ticket (read: before I run out of money to buy one).

littlemissattitude said...

Oh, and thanks for that Jana.

knotty said...

I hear you. I went to college and grad school and haven't had a steady job in years. I wish you much luck in your job search. I know how demoralizing job hunting can be.