Millennials Give, Other Generations Not So Much

I saw this shared on Facebook, with an added comment that it wasn’t JUST millennials who are involved in this supposedly ‘socialist subculture.’ That somehow other generations are just as generous when they have little themselves as the millennial generation.

Sadly, that is NOT true in my own personal experience.  I am part of Generation X.  Actually, I’m pretty much in the very start of Generation X, while my older sister is technically at the very end of the Baby Boomer generation.

Both generations are still stuck in that old trope of the worthy poor.’ Both my generation and the previous one have sense of suspicion that anyone who is looking for ‘a handout’ must automatically be unworthy, unwilling to work and feeling entitled.

Let me tell you, that is in NO WAY true for most of today’s poor, of which I count myself.  And I have been poor pretty much all of my life, except for a few years when I was younger than 10 (times I don’t even remember, even if my cognitive faculties were back to where they should be).

Maybe we older people don’t post reminders of our crowdfunding efforts often enough; don’t use Twitter, Instagram or any other social media outlets to reach a wider audience; or maybe – just maybe, mind you – middle aged people are so stuck in the mindset of “if you’re poor and desperate, you’re just lazy!” that they can’t be bothered to give even $0.25 for someone working to try to build a better, less desperate life for themselves. Or they think: “I can barely deal with my own stuff, SOMEONE ELSE will help them.”

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am.

My sister and I put up a crowdfunding account 9 months ago (gofundme.com/BuechnerSisters – there’s also a link button to our GoFundMe account on the right side of every page of my blog). Out of that, we’ve raise only 5.9% of our goal from 3 donors – and 2 of those were millennials.

It’s extremely difficult to keep trying to push your crowdfunding account when there is so little response. And it’s worse when some of the reasons for the desperation are mental AND physical illness.

I’m lucky to make it out of bed some days. Other days I hide away, dealing with shit but not able to deal much with my sister, let alone dealing with any other human being. It’s taken me 2 years just to get to this point. I destroyed myself for my ex, and I’m progressing, but it’s not like I can snap my fingers and be “all better.”

She has days like that too, because of her autonomic disorder. And it’s taken her 4-5 years to get as far as she has.

I’m sitting here crying, because I’m fighting with myself. Part of me feels “righteously angry and bitter,” but the other part says I’m being selfish and mercenary. Yes, I’m rich in other ways. I have a family who loves me unconditionally, and we support each other as much as we can. But, with parents who are both in their 70s and living off a ridiculously small sum for two people who have put money into Social Security almost 60 years of work (Social Security was started in 1935 – both of my parents were born in the early 1940s), and are now being told that that they are being “entitled”

But, you don’t know how many times in the last 9 months that we’ve been close to living on the streets in the middle of a Wisconsin winter. I keep having nightmares of us in our 80s, still living together and eating cat food because we can’t afford anything else, or digging through someone’s garbage to have anything to eat.

So yes, I agree with this writer that the millenials are banding together, and that we older generations could learn a lot from them.

Let me tell you a bit of a story.

In 1978, my father realized he had a calling to the ministry of the variant of Christianity that we worshiped with.  After soul searching and talking to both myself and my sister, my parents decided to follow that calling – and go back to school to become a minister.  I can’t blame my father, because I too feel that calling to minister.  There are few differences between many of the nuts-and-bolts of our respective ministries, even though I am Wiccan and he is Christian.  He was expected to learn Greek, Latin and Hebrew (I was not required to learn any languages) so that he could read the untranslated Bible (and many of the writings of the early “church fathers”).  The other main nuts-and-bolts is that no minister in Wicca gets a salary for what they do.  Christian ministers do (well, many variations of Christian pay their ministers, I can’t say that they all do), but let me tell you that very few of those ministers receive ANY kind of salary that could support a family.  And for that minuscule amount of money, they and their wives (if they have them) are expected to be reachable at absolutely any hour of the day or night.

Late 70s was no where near the kind of student loan support that many students receive today.  Of course, there is also the fact that tuition in the 70s and 80s was often 10%-20% of what they are now. So, Dad worked part time as a laboratory tech, while going to school full time.  Mom opened a day-care out of the home, and we had a paper route as well.  We lived in subsidized housing.  And all those jokes about government cheese and peanut butter?  That was a reality for our family.  Additionally, these two school years (78-79 and 79-80) weren’t even at the seminary.  It was a pre-seminary program to give those who wanted to be ministers, but who did not fit the seminary minimum requirements.

We moved to Milwaukee in late 1980.  Again, we lived in subsidized housing.  And as I’m starting those first steps of becoming a woman, I’m dropped straight into a gang controlled area. Mom took on a full-time secretarial job, and Dad was also working as many hours as possible on top of a full course load at the seminary in Mequon. From 1980 to the beginning of my freshman year in 1982, I was expected to take over a good portion of the chores (although Mom did a lot on the weekends as well), as well as babysit both brothers (since this was also the same time that we adopted my other brother).

Dad finally graduated from the seminary during my junior year.  We were content, because all the school for Dad was finally over.  Except, the place my father was sent to was cruel, judgemental and frankly, abusive.  It was an 800 person town, with most businesses owned by a single family.  They became offended at a sermon my father gave, and started a rumor mill in which my father was considered abusive, my mother an alcoholic, one brother was a “murderous darkie” and the other was……well, the nicest epithet I heard from people was “a moron” (in other words, mentally deficient in some way).  His supervisor literally told him to get out before the town destroyed not only him, but his family as well.

Flash forward a few years, we’d been living in Milwaukee while Dad was forced to take a sabbatical.  At the end of that time, the administration of the synod we belonged to attempted to revoke his ordination.  He fought that, but was told he would never receive a call again.  And yes, I’m still rather bitter about that.

Mom and Dad were STILL working full time, and Dad also started working with the prison ministry.  But we still weren’t exactly “rolling in dough.”  I started college, and attempted on a number of occasions to move out.  I ended up having to move back in, after being fired from jobs made it impossible for me to pay rent.

Then I met my ex.  We moved in together in October of 1993, and were married that next May.  We would often bring home groceries from going to my parents’ house for Sunday dinner just to augment what we were able to afford. I started sacrificing things that I needed or wanted so that we could have enough money to get what he wanted or “needed” (using his definition of “need”).  After one of my brothers died, and my parents moved up to NW Wisconsin to be nearer my sister (and out of the town in which they lost a child), we scraped up barely enough to move to the Twin Cities.

Many of you know many of the things that happened since we moved to Minnesota.

So yes, most years, my ex and I combined made less than $25K.

I did EVERYTHING I could to get us out of the hole we were in, but every time we had a little bit of extra money the ex always had something he “needed” or our transportation required repair (AFTER I got given a used clunker from my sister).

For over 20 years, I wore clothing until it was more hole than clothing.  For 20 years, I found ways to pinch every penny to nanobot width – which I have not lost, as every time I go grocery shopping now, my sister is shocked at how much I am able to get for the absolute least amount of money. I was the one who was forced to eat my pride and beg money from my parents, my sister, friends and even acquaintances. The only new clothes I got were either gifts from my parents or a small amount taken out of the student loans I was receiving to get that bloody little piece of paper.

Now, I’m finally shut of him, but that 20 years has stolen almost everything from me. I can’t stand more than 10 minutes at a time due to arthritis, so retail or fast-food isn’t going to happen (and yes, I know what it is like to work in both fields – I had my own college jobs and post-college jobs like that). I have no manufacturing skills that would allow me to have a sit-down manual job at a factory. I can’t do the web design I did for the last 4 years of my marriage, because my cognitive function is slowly getting worse. I can barely understand the changes in my industry, let alone remember the different things I already know so as to program applications efficiently.

The only thing I have left is art. And if you think that’s a reliable income, you must be joking. And I can’t even get it into a gallery or a show until I have enough completed pieces to actually sell.

Even if I DO sell art, it will be immediately garnished by the Department of Education, to pay the quarter of a million dollars I owe on my school loans that I had to take because secretarial work was killing me, and while I was able to be a web designer – no one would hire me without a piece of paper saying I was capable. Even then, the only job that would hire me was a freelancing gig that brought in less than $15K per year (less than my ex’s retail job), AND would screw me out of $1K-$2K every year, because the IRS wants their blood money. And, of course, the ex is claiming I “hid” the IRS tax debt from him, even though every April 15, I would explain to him again that NO we were not getting any tax return, because the IRS garnished it.

So, yes, please…..go ahead and tell me that I’m “LAZY.” Go ahead and tell me I’m not “NOT WORTHY” of help. Go ahead and judge me, because you have to somehow feel superior to those who are poor. Go ahead, tell me that if I wasn’t fat I wouldn’t be poor (yes, I have been told this to my face).

I hope you choke on your superiority.

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Categories: Political Opinion | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

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