An article in today’s local daily couldn’t help but bring to mind John Scalzi’s sadly timeless “Being Poor,” which I’ve mentioned several times. At least the headline is blunt: “Fears of hunger grow in S. Dakota.” The story itself reports on a study showing 12.6 percent of the state’s residents are “food insecure.”
Notice how even nonprofits interested in the problem seem to need to use euphemisms when talking about people going hungry. That’s why “Being Poor,” which is excerpted in a recently published “poverty manifesto,” is so striking. It’s reality, not euphemism. Consider the following from it:
- Being poor is going to the restroom before you get in the school lunch line so your friends will be ahead of you and won’t hear you say “I get free lunch” when you get to the cashier.
- Being poor is stealing meat from the store, frying it up before your mom gets home and then telling her she doesn’t have to make dinner tonight because you’re not hungry anyway.
- Being poor is hoping you’ll be invited for dinner.
- Being poor is crying when you drop the mac and cheese on the floor.
- Being poor is picking the 10 cent ramen instead of the 12 cent ramen because that’s two extra packages for every dollar.
Just making sure your diet has more reality than doublespeak.
When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.
Brazilian Archbishop Helder Camara