Friday, January 23, 2009

The animosity of the comfortable

I really need to stop reading the comments section after articles in the Cap Times and WSJ. More often than not, they're filled with the most ridiculously awful crap--even regarding stories that most would consider unimpeachable.

For instance, the Cap Times currently has a piece up about an Allied neighborhood activist who's working to organize shuttle buses to take residents grocery shopping. This is in response to the looming loss of the Cub Foods that currently serves the area.

This guy, Mike Bodden, has taken the selfless initiative to see what can be done to help those people without access to a car or bus (for whatever reason) get to a grocery store. He's running this operation out of a local food pantry that's sponsored by a group of churches.

Bodden said he planned to charge a small fee to ride the grocery shuttle, but it would not cover the estimated $200 weekly cost of providing the transportation.

The service would operate out of the Boys and Girls Club, 4619 Jenewein Road, where the food pantry is located.

"Any good souls who would like to help support this, it would be appreciated," he said. "Maybe some business would like to take it on."

Seems straight forward enough, right? Not according to some of the generous souls in the comments section, from whom we get such gems as "Has anyone ever considered giving these leakers a ride to a 'job'? Naw, not the likes of The Capital Times, wouldn't want to hurt their feelimgs [sic]. What a bunch of nonsense," and "Yeah, this is a joke. I like how they're 'operating' out of the Boys and Girls Club. Does the B & G Club know that? Do they have insurance for something like that? What happens when someone gets hurt on the bus or in a car accident? And the 'maybe some businesses would like to take it on' comment?!? Really? Yeah, nobody wants that bus pulling up to their business, up to and including Woodman's."

Can you feel the love?

Someone else goes on to rail against the "use of taxpayer money" to fund projects like this, apparently completely missing the part where this is being paid for by donations and a small rider fee. Are people really so eager to shit on needed community service projects that their brains just shut down, overlooking the facts of the matter entirely and opting instead to just lash out?

These kinds of comments, I think, speak volumes about the misperceptions and misplaced animosity that exist in our community regarding the working class and impoverished among us. All of these cries to "pull yourself up by your own damn bootstraps" completely miss the part where many of these people simply don't have any bootstraps to begin with. It behooves us, as those fortunate enough to have been given better opportunities in life, to do what we can to see that everyone gets the same chance to do well for themselves.

And before anyone jumps down my throat, allow me to point out that there's a big (and incredibly important) difference between creating a situation where people can mooch off the system and your good graces without giving anything back or taking some responsibility for themselves, and creating a situation where everyone has the same opportunities but then must take it upon themselves to take advantage of them and work toward something better.

Currently, the latter and better situation is not the case. And making sure that people have access to food is the least we can do to right that. If you can't see that, it's high time you turned your brain back on and really started learning about your community--all of it.


Other Side said...

Emily: Wonderful title to your post.

Yeah, that faith-based initiative is working out great. I wonder what demonination the respondents to the article belong to?

Anonymous said...

*SIGH* Emily, you point out exactly the paradox of the mindset of many "priveliged" people in our community. they consider themselves to be good people, but when they see someone else using their own resources to help people who really need it, their brains turn off and they automatically assume that these people who need help getting to the grocery stores ARE mostly hardworking people who take the bus to work,or walk or bike to work, and have problems getting large amounts of groceries home using those any rate, even if all the people Mike Bodden is trying to help were all drug head unemployed welfare queens (to use "their" words), why complain that this guy is trying to help them? private funding and reasonable fees are what is paying for this, so how does that affect your pocketbook?

Anonymous said...

Oustanding. It is the hypocrisy of the lovely Dane County. After two years around, it is indeed filled with the arrogance of the 100 people on the state payroll milking the system terribly protected behind a union. Can you imagine if we collected one sick day from each state employee and donated to this cause?

ellie said...

I don't think the folks you're talking about are comfortable, Emily. I think they're scared they're going to be out of a job or a home and be in the same tough place.
There's a lot of change in the wind, and the folks who are scared of change are the same ones screaming "get a job" or whining about taxpayer money being spent in ways they don't like.
It's easier to be a troll than to try and make a difference. That's what they are, hiding behind fake names and poking at people insead of building a life beyond an Us versus Them point of view.
Bigots and close minded people are usually the most fearful folks I know. They usually think antyime anybody gets something, they lose something. That's a pretty sad trap to be in. But I guess it's less uncomfortable to them than opening one's eyes and thinking for yourself.

Nataraj Hauser said...

My experience is that Ellie is right on the money. I work with several people who would voice vitriolic comments like "those losers should just get a job!" in one breath, and without shame say in the next breath, "Well who would hire those losers anyway? They're all criminals." And yes, they vote Republican and consider themselves good Christians. A little less Rush Limbaugh and a little more St. Francis of Assisi seems to be in order...

The Lost Albatross