Sunday, December 9, 2012
Your Heart Breaks
A teenager in Pennsylvania knows why she's poor and is fighting with every fiber of her being to break out of that trap. But where is the help going to come from? She works so hard on all fronts, and she's got nothing, nothing at all. As the article states at one point, "...not even a $50 savings bond inherited from an uncle." I.e. that is what makes poverty, the lack of resources to create a surplus that you can hand down to the next generation. You are born poor, you generally stay that way. For a while in this country many people who did make sure they got a high school education, worked all the time to get that education, could then find a way to go to college, and get further education that opened better paying jobs. But that is pretty much gone now, and higher education is so expensive you can't even get loans to go to school when you're that poor, and if you do get a loan, you're in debt peonage for life -- as there aren't the jobs at the end of the degree that there once were.
What is she going to do? She enlisting. Good luck with her hopes that she will get a college degree with her VA benefits, and a job afterwards.
I cannot tell you how many of the homeless on the streets of NYC are vets. I've taken to talking to the homeless who are asking for a bit of help, and finding out their story, if they want to talk. Expecting the homeless veteran to talk to me because I gave them a couple of dollars is awfully arrogant though, I feel. They have earned so much more.
And what seems to be coming through -- though I am not a professional at all in these areas, and have no training whatsoever -- is that these individuals enlisted much as the girl in this article is doing, from dead-end poverty, without any advantages of any kind, and thus none of the experience or training or the resources to figure out what to do next, once they complete their enlistment, and they end up dead-ended again, except older and more damaged. Particularly the women, who suffer endless sexual harrasment and threat.
Please read this story in the Washington Post magazine online, "In Rust Belt, a teenager’s climb from poverty ..."
Though this is a different part of the country, and not fiction, Tabitha reminds me so much of Ree in Winter's Bone.