Identifying With The Poor

I hated typing this title, because identifying with the poor sounds so assuming, so snobby, so I’m better than you; however, I read a Facebook question that made me cringe.  I should say that I am  convinced Facebook is the place where you accumulate as many ‘Friends’ as possible and then post outlandish statements and wait for dozens of comments to flood your in-box.  Please understand, I am not bashing Facebook.  I Facebook myself.  Isn’t it interesting the word Facebook can be used as a noun or verb?  I even enjoy facebook.  At the click of your mouse, you can stay connected with everyone from your grandma to your kindergarten classmate, regardless of how loose the connection.

Here’s the status update in question.  Please note it is not verbatim, but close enough.

If you shop at thrift stores in an attempt to identify with the poor, do you think it is wrong to buy up all the name brand clothing at bargain prices, because the poor really need those bargains?


Are you seriously contemplating this question?  Your introspection may be better directed if you contemplated haughtiness.

Just my opinion.

Must we really frequent thrift stores in order to identify with the poor?  I think eating a meal of Ramen Noodles may be sufficient.  Don’t you?

Please tell me main stream American society is not so far removed from reality that we think buying a pair previously owned Gap jeans helps us identify with the poor.  This line of thinking almost makes my blood boil as much as when I heard Joe Biden talking about how he identifies so well with the working middle class.  He talked about how our kitchen tables are just the same.  Excuse me, but I’ve seen pictures of his house.  If our kitchen tables are the same, he needs to fire his decorator.

I guess I am left to contemplate what ‘poor’ means in today’s America.  The Bible tells us to be content with food and raiment, but it’s my guess a person with so little would definitely be considered poor.  Are the thousands of jobless Americans poor?  Maybe those of us who are just barely able to pay our mortgages and get dinner on the table?  Or are we poor because we can’t take a two-week vacation and buy a new car?

And just maybe we should stop worrying about identifying with the poor, whoever you think that may be, and start thinking about passing on purchasing another pair of Gap jeans and instead, putting that $50 into actually helping the poor.

Just saying.

I love you Facebook friends, even if I don’t always agree with you.


13 thoughts on “Identifying With The Poor

  1. marytoo

    Oh, my gosh, here I go again…. I agree, as Debbie says, a lot depends on how one defines “poor.” I suppose I should have mentioned as a point of reference that I came to this country as an adult, having grown up in the third world, and truly, what goes here for poverty almost qualifies as luxury in some of those places.

    I’m not saying everybody here has an ideal financial situation. I realize that a lot of things are tough for a lot of people. Then again, I have lived a lot of that myself due to ongoing expensive uninsured medical bills and unemployment, and I have to say that I would a whole lot rather be poor in America than in some other country.

    But I think this post got sorta hijacked…probably beginning with my first comment, so I apologize for that. In keeping with your very first original question, I think “identifying with the poor” by shopping in thrift stores is ludicrous…Are you sure that person wasn’t joking?

    Ok, that’s it for me. End of rants. One last thought…It seems that most of you disagree with me (maybe I’m living in a bubble or something!), and everyone is certainly entitled to their opinion, but please accept my humble and sincere thanks for your calmness and politeness. It is refreshing indeed to be able to have a civil disagreement! ♥ ♥ ♥

    1. the domestic fringe Post author

      LOL. I think we probably all agree more than we disagree. Really.

      The thought that because you shop thrift, you can somehow identify with what it means to be poor is indeed ludicrous. And, no, they weren’t joking. That’s the sad part.

      We are so blessed in America and I agree, I’d rather be poor in America than in any other country.

      I think the discussion is good…healthy. Despite some ‘tough times’, I think we can all agree, we have much and are blessed. I don’t even wish Biden had my kitchen table. In fact, it would look absolutely ridiculous in his house. I’m certainly glad there are some who have much more than I. If we were all on a hot dog budget, whose house would I go to when I wanted steak? Kidding. 🙂 I try not to mooch off of other’s people’s fridges too much, except for maybe my aunt’s.

      I really do appreciate everyone’s comments! Thank you. Keep em coming. 😉

  2. Mom

    I always joked that I was one paycheck away from being homeless and the joke became reality when I lost my job. I found myself homeless and without money. I was blessed to have an older brother who gave me shelter and food and also family and friends who meet some of my needs during that dark time. Thankfully, it was a short lived “poverty period”.
    I cannot even imagine families who are so poor they can’t feed their children, provide proper shelter or get medical help for them. Shopping at a thrift store can never help me to relate to their needs and fears.
    In this country, we have many seniors who buy outdated foods, half rotted fruits and veggies because their pension checks are small and rent and monthly expenses are so high. Some go without proper medical treatments and medicine.
    I wonder if Joe Biden would be willing to trade places with these families for a month or two?

  3. debbie york

    I may be putting my neck on that chopping block too, but the poor probably don’t shop at the thrift store. Even that would require cash outlay and when you’re poor…there’s never enough. I’m thinking they are shoppers at garage sales where things can be purchased much cheaper or from donations.
    I believe there is poverty in America. I don’t define it as not having any food, but perhaps not having enough or at the least halfway nutritious. Eating cereal every night fills the stomach but not much else. I had just read that the food banks are being depleted at a horrific rate with some people who were donating last year, now coming in for food.
    When I would hear my parents and grandparents talk about the Great Depression, it was always stories of how many kinfolk came and lived with them until work could be found. About stretching food, everyone pitching in what little they had earned just to put food on the table. How gardens were planted and neighbor shared with neighbor. My g’daddy traveled to California to work leaving his family behind, but sent money home every month. My daddy pulled cotton at 8 to help with the finances. Sadly, times have changed. Families are scattered, there isn’t any cotton to pull and folks are losing their home, jobs, and it’s as if no one cares. Poverty in America…it all depends on how you want to define it and avoid the elephant in the room.
    One last little rant and I’ll get off my soapbox before I fall off. The FAP is in place because people have stopped helping one another. It’s also a little harder than one would think to get assistance. There’s more to it than just walking in and saying “I need food”. Oh and as far as the cell phones go…during the time Jenn was home with Bella, they couldn’t afford her cell, but she had to have it to communicate with the hospital so needless to say she and Roby ate a LOT of Ramen noodles during that time.
    Once again, Trish, I don’t know if I made any sense…but there you have it…my two cents. Add 98 more and you can get a cup of coffee at McD’s… a luxury nowadays!

    1. Charming's Mama

      P.S. I’m not on Facbook but hubs is and I have lurked under his sign in at times (with his permission) and it just seems to me to be a big time waster and more or less of a popularity contest. I completely agree with you on that one FringeGirl.
      – Sydney

  4. marytoo

    FringeGirl, really, I basically agree with you. My observations are more of a generalization on our society as a whole, based on many years of volunteering with church assistance programs and community-based food banks, where I have seen little need, but quite a lot of “want”. Of course there are those who are honestly in need, and I would never want to take anything away from that. I am more than willing to help however I can.

    You make an interesting point that people truly in need swallowing their pride to ask for help, and my experience bears that out. I confess I have been there myself, as a result of catastrophic medical bills and resultant long-term unemployment.

    Back to your original post, I couldn’t agree with you more about the $50 Gap jeans and poor working-class Joe Biden. That kind of attitude from that kind of people really bothers me.

    And, P.S. I completely agree that it is the job of churches and neighbors and not the government to fill in these gaps. ♥

  5. Mama Belle

    OK … I really think that was a dumb statement. So, basically GoodWill and the like are reserved for the poor? Does that mean a poor person can’t walk into Macy’s either? And, I hardly think that shopping at second-hand stores allows us to identify with the poor. The truly poor don’t spend their money on clothes, even second-hand. I’m sure they’re much more concerned with having food and a place to sleep.

  6. marytoo

    Ok, I am going to stick my neck out here…EEK! maybe even get it chopped off, but… Not really, I love my FringeFriends.

    I don’t really believe there is any poverty in America. There. I said it. If “poverty” means having no food, no clothing, and no shelter, I stand by my statement.

    Now, granted, you may want steak and only have hamburger or beans, but still, you aren’t starving. There are social programs galore, food stamps, rent subsidies, shelters, soup kitchens, welfare, food pantries, assistance with utilities, free education for Pete’s sake, and I was recently made aware of a phone entitlement program! I’m sure you’ve probably all had the pleasure of being in the checkout line behind someone who is paying with food stamps and chatting on a cell phone. Call me insensitive, but I think if you can afford a cell phone you aren’t that poor (And I think you should pay for your own food, but that’s another rant.).

    On the other hand, if “poverty” means not taking a vacation and buying a new car, well then…sign me up!

    1. the domestic fringe Post author

      Since we are friends here and we are willingly sticking our necks out, I’m going to say that I disagree. I do believe there is poverty in America. Granted it’s not poverty like you see in many countries, but there are many of our own in need. I’ve seen first-hand people living in shelters that are little more than a broken down shack without running water or electricity. I’ve known some to go without meals and others reduced to wearing the same rags day in and day out. Government programs are designed to help people, but not everyone falls into the neat list of requirements. Honestly some people just fall into hard times and it’s mostly because of death, illness, and job loss. There are areas in America where people are working, but barely making enough to get by.

      The Food Assistance Program (it’s not called Food Stamps anymore) is designed to help those in need on a temporary basis. Yes, many take full advantage of the system, but there are those truly in need of help who find themselves swallowing all pride to ask for help. No, I don’t think it’s the governments job to provide that assistance. I truly believe it’s our job – the church’s job. The Bible talks extensively about helping the poor. I don’t we can judge someone using the food assistance program by whether they have a cell phone or not. Don’t get me wrong, I know where you’re coming from and I’ve said the same types of statements. I was wrong. Sometimes people suddenly lose income and are just able to keep paying their normal bills – rent/mortgage, electricity, phone, etc. For many cell phones have replaced land-lines and some people’s meager income is reliant on phone service. What I’m trying to say is that a well dressed person can one day find themselves in line at the grocery store using an EBT card to get food. It’s not always so easy to quickly sell everything you own to get food on the table in time for dinner.

      For the most part, you’re right. We don’t know real poverty in our country. We are blessed; however, I do know many who really are only eating half-rotten vegetables and Ramen everyday. They survive by frequenting food pantries. Their rent and medical care are more than can afford, even working a job. I’m not saying some people shouldn’t have MORE and other shouldn’t have LESS. Paul said that he learned to be abased and how to abound. There will always be the poor. It just bothers me when we become so detached from those around us that we can’t see they are in need.

      I’m sure I’ve said too much.
      Love ya! Thanks for stinking out your neck. 🙂 I’m sure someone else will chop mine off for this comment.


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