Ten and poor

people 115Recently, I sat for a few hours talking to a 98-year-old woman about her experiences in a small rural Wisconsin town. The woman is amazing and still sharp as a tack.

For over 25 years she owned a grocery store in this town and every summer she and her husband extended credit to the local school teachers so they could eat in the summer. The teachers would come into the store, buy against an account and when school started up again the teachers would settle the bill.

They extended the same credits in the winter to farmers.

Zero percent interest, a dozen eggs, a basket of vegetables or milk in payment. Can you imagine Walmart telling people, “Take what you need and pay us back when you can – at 0% interest plus a carton of eggs.”

image-3I wonder how many adults that grew up in this small community realize how their parents relied on community support for the basic staples of life. We have no idea what our parents actually did to make ends meet and give us the few opportunities that we did have.

We think we know what poor means because we say we grew up poor with bread bags on our feet. What we remember about being a child and living in poverty is completely different from the realities of raising children while living in poverty. They are two completely different experiences.

Judging your adult neighbors that need help from society based on a value system developed when you were “poor” and ten is hardly an informed perspective. Moreover, judging your adult neighbors based on what you think you know about your parents experience when you were poor and ten is pridefully vain.

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