Thursday, September 15, 2005

Mrs. Bush is not alone

Many people were shocked to hear Mrs. Bush's comment about Hurricane Katrina's victims sheltered at the Astrodome. Her comment that "Many of these people were disadvantaged so this is working out quite well for them." By "this" of course, she meant that being taken care of at the Astrodome by being fed, housed and soon to get money was a step up from where they were. As if, before they didn't really have a life that was 'this good'. Her comments show a true lack of understanding that even people who don't have a lot of material goods or money actually have real lives. And in these lives they enjoy daily life, have families they are committed to and communities they want to remain in despite not pulling up to their driveway in a Mercedes as they walk into their McMansion!

On the heels of this though, I had my own real life encounter with this attitude. I was talking with folks who work in the social services system (the people who help the people that Mrs. Bush is talking about!). We were exploring the Life Puzzle model and the Choosing Continuum and the need to expose people to the 6-10, proactive side. And then I heard it "Well, you can't really expect these people with so few resources to actually use this information, can you?" Implied in this statement is just what Mrs. Bush said--that if you are poor, you somehow don't actually have a life and any attempt to help people grow whole and dynamic lives is lost on this population!

After I deep breathed so I wouldn't scream because I have heard this so often over the last 25 years, I calmly replied. "Yes, not only do I expect that this group can use this information, I know that they do! I've worked with this population and I've seen time and time again them grab onto the value in the Life Puzzle model and begin to grow their lives." Having lots of money and stuff has nothing to do with the ability or desire to create a great life! Whether you have massive resources or extremely modest resources, you will still eat, exercise, have feelings that need to be managed, need to think proactively, be a good communicator, build healthy relationships, connect to your sexual self, learn to be a good parent, work, play, manage your finances, deal with special challenges (like an economically racist culture), live your spirituality and ultimately have to deal with death and thus the meaning of your life. (these are the 16 core areas of the Life Puzzle) Being rich or poor doesn't matter!

What I also wanted to say to this group was this: One of the biggest problems is that this population has to deal with a system that thinks they are poor, pathetic and helpless and that's about all they are and can be. Thus, when someone comes in for help, they receive it from a 0-5, do enough to get by, reactive system. The professional wants to help, but it will come with an attachment much like Mrs. Bush's attitude--whatever we give them will be better than where they were--because we don't really think they're in the position to have whole and dynamic lives since they don't have the money/resources to live "right". So why bother working with them from the 6-10 perspective?

We are all Life Puzzles under construction! Mrs. Bush and all those in the 'helping systems' I say, begin to look at everyone you meet as a Life Puzzle under construction. Not just those with lots of resources but everyone. Because we all have the same 16 core areas, 5 edges that create the SELF--making a common bond for all while maintaining our own unique soul essence. Mrs. Bush--that black woman with three kids sleeping on a cot in the Astrodome with a plastic bag filled with their only remaining possessions is no different than you. She wants to wake up tomorrow and build a whole and dynamic life, just like you. See that and you will see why your comment that "this is working out quite well for them", shows how your own Life Puzzle needs more work too! You might discover that Hurricane Katrina offers you some lessons for growth--and maybe that comment could work out quite well for you then too.


Anonymous said...

Something for us all to think about! THanks...

Anonymous said...

I work in social service systems and see this all the time. We expect so little and as a result, we keep perpetuating the status quo~

Anonymous said...

My sentiments exactly!