People have perceptions and expectations around money that continue to amuse and amaze me. If they think you’ve got some, then you are suddenly attractive on some level, if they think you haven’t got any, then they treat you like you’re contagious. And yet, it’s all perception.
A recent email debate on the subject of Free Food at CSI revealed to me that even Hero Central has plenty of people helping the world on empty stomachs. We put on a brave face, focus on results and count our lucky stars when some event or other has left-over muffins or Indian food.
This is almost a little too hard to think about. Somehow you get into a groove of thinking of things in terms of us and them or those in need and those who help. And the reason this is hard is that if you’re working on fighting poverty, there is some plan to get people from A to B to C. But the people doing the helping are already at C. They already have an education and certain developed-world expectations of themselves and are generally doing the job they love to do, but financially speaking, they’re at the c-for-ceiling.
If you live in a large city and have a spouse and two kids, the poverty line is $37,000. (2005 stats) And yet it is fairly common for someone working in the social-sector-white-collarish jobs to earn, say, $27,000. (2009) If your spouse happens to be a stay-at-home parent or an artist or some other low-income situation, this could very well represent your total family income. I know we live in a free-marketish world, certainly in one where we are privileged to choose our careers, but we all benefit so much from the work that our social sector people are doing.
I wish I knew how to launch a campaign to find us a Heroes’ Hero.
We all make choices. Some people buy fancy cars and live in tiny little condos. Some people rent big houses and have no car. I pay a cleaning lady but can’t afford home internet, cable tv or a car. Everyone makes choices and the differences in our choices is what makes us interesting to each other, and what creates the opportunity for relationships. Mike bought a tall ladder so now neighbours can borrow it when they clean their eaves troughs. One neighbour has a weed-wacker so Mike borrows it to trim the yard. You see where this is going. (I have an office with a wine rack, so other people store their wine there!)
Sometimes people say to me “You don’t know what it’s like!” And I want to say, “Yes I do,” but what I don’t want to do is have a race for the bottom, play the game of who suffered most. I’d rather say, “What do you need? Where are you going?” And help you to find a path or the strength to take it.
In the mean time, some people are doing what they like to do and going where they want to go and helping other people tremendously, and they still only get $27,000 a year. For that, I wish I could find a Heroes’ Hero who could somehow issue Christmas bonuses to everyone, an annual trip somewhere warm, some new technology for their home or a kitchen makeover. Or just feed the heroes. Imagine what a difference it would make in the morale of these Everyday Heroes? (Not to mention their grocery budget!)
So next time you meet someone with $40 million dollars, send them to me. We’ll invest it, and the interest can put about $20,000/year to each person at the League of Canadian Justice; the people who make school breakfasts possible, who keep rivers clean, who advocate for the voiceless. You can be sure that it isn’t going to happen on its own.
And I beleive that the Heroes are as deserving of some joyful perks as the next guy.