Friday, May 20, 2011

Get Off Your Ass

Bad things happen to good people.  It's a fact of life, and we all accept it.  Good things happen to good people and that's great, but that's not the kind of thing that makes the papers.  When bad stuff happens, it becomes an emergency, a crisis.  Somebody's got to do something to get the crisis under control, to mitigate the damage.

What about when the emergent parts of the problem are over?  Things have stopped getting worse, the event is over and now all that's left is aftermath.  But while the crisis was going on, bad things happened.  People lost their homes, their jobs.  Cars got flooded, pets got lost.  Now what?

Most people get going.  Most people have some kind of support structure in place.  If, somehow, my entire life got turned upside-down, I could call on my parents.  They'd put me up while I got my life back in order.  If my parents' lives somehow went totally haywire, they could come to me.  We'd be a little crowded, but we'd be okay.  And we'd get ourselves back in order.

And then there are folks who just can't handle it.  Their lives have gone completely off the rails and they never had much support to start with.  Unfriendly family splits, job loss, one screwup too many and now you have people who just don't have any kind of backup plan.  When they fall, they fall hard.  That's when you see people living in their cars, staggering in at the rescue mission, dejected and dazed.  How did their lives go so wrong so fast?  But it happens.

Even so, most of those folks get themselves straightened out fairly quickly and move on.  I don't have anything but respect for the people who weather the storm and get back up again.  As the saying goes, it isn't how many times you get knocked down that matters, it's how many times you get back up.

But what about the people who just stay down?  What about the people who decide staying down is good enough?  I see people taking advantage of support services, who aren't really doing that much for themselves.  Is it really a rescue mission when the guy has been living there for five years?  That's not "rescue."  That's just life support, and as lives go it's kind of empty.

Looking around at some of the facilities in the East Tennessee area, I see what appears to be "casually homeless" people.  I'm coining this new term, I claim origin of the phrase.  To be "casually homeless" is to have access to the conventional support of family and friends, but to choose instead to be homeless, without an address of one's own.  Some of these people appear to be completely healthy, psychologically and physically from the standpoint of an informal observer, but otherwise unengaged in the machinations of day-to-day life like the rest of us.  Why not?  I have no idea.  They hang out, smoke, spit on the sidewalk, and that's all they do.

At first writing I titled this post, "Get Off Your Ass."  I may have changed that by the time I get around to actually publishing it, but it stands as my theme in any case.  Get off your ass.  The world owes you nothing.  Nothing.  My taxes shouldn't be paying so much for your support if you're not going to do much to support yourself.  If you choose to do nothing with your life, then you earn nothing.  Why should anyone have to take an interest in your well being, if you won't do it for yourself?

I had an uncle, gone twenty-plus years now, who had a full-time job in a bank, despite the fact polio had robbed him of the use of his arms at a young age.  He had a real job.  Full disability?  Maybe he was eligible, I have no idea.  What I know is, he had a job.  He did something.

There's a guy somewhere around where I live, don't know his name.  If he stood up he'd be about three and a half feet tall, except he can't stand.  He gets around in a power chair because his legs are maybe a foot long.  He's got a regular job at the Wal-Mart.  It isn't anything that's going to light the world on fire, but he does something.  He literally cannot get off his ass per se, but he's more off his ass than some of these slackers I see, taking up space and using up resources, when they could be doing so much more.

Whoo!  My inner conservative got a bit cranky, there.  But he's going to continue being cranky as long as I keep seeing anyone of sound mind and body, just hanging around doing nothing.

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