Life is hard. As children, we have these expectations of what our lives will be like. We're told that if we do the right thing-- "Go to college." "Work hard."-- everything will just fall into place. As adults we know that's not always the case. At least some of us do.
These past few years have opened my eyes to the suffering taking place in our country. When I was a child, I truly believed that all people who needed government assistance were there because they were lazy, unproductive members of society. They had given up and just expected us to carry their burden. And maybe some of them are. But maybe they aren't.
Maybe they're just like you and me. Maybe they've worked hard their entire lives, but were just victims of circumstances that were beyond their control. Maybe they were once CEO's or Account Managers. Maybe they're recent college graduates who have an overwhelming debt hanging over their heads, but can only get jobs at places that pay minimum wage and offer no benefits. Maybe they're you're neighbors. Maybe they're your friends. Maybe they're children.
Yes, these past few years have been hard on most of us, but I still can't bring myself to turn my nose up at those in need of help. I know plenty of people take advantage of the kindness of others, but I also know many do not. Many have no. other. choice.
So when I hear people talking about entitlements, and rallying around cutting government assistance programs, I get angry. Imagine for a moment how helpless you would feel tucking your child into bed, knowing they haven't eaten in days. It's pretty terrible isn't it? Well, that happens here all the time. Here in the most powerful country in the world. People are suffering. Children are suffering.
For months leading up to my absence from the blogosphere, I began to notice some unfortunate behavior that greatly saddened me. When I would host a giveaway, hordes of new followers claiming to love my blog instantly appeared. I suppose free stuff is a great motivator. But then, there were the times that I would try to use my blog as an outlet for something good, like raising funds for Hurricane Sandy victims or collecting toys for children. Suddenly, you could hear a pin drop on my blog. Meanwhile, my new found "bloggy friends" continued to post about their brand new Coach purses, or their latest "vacay" to Hawaii.
The lowest point was reading tweets from a blogger who was disgusted by the stench of the homeless man who had the audacity to ask her for food. That's when I decided I'd had enough. I needed a break from the superficiality. And so I took a break.
And while I was gone, I took that time to find my roots again. I spent time at a local food bank helping to distribute food to families that were in need of a little help. I volunteered at a few local nonprofits. It felt good to surround myself with other people who truly wanted to help others.
Sometimes when you're doing well, it's easy to forget that others aren't quite as lucky. Or maybe you truly believe that the ones that are doing poorly are completely at fault. In my short 26 years on this earth, I have come to realize that sometimes situations are beyond your control. You can be a motivated, hard-working, and driven individual, and yet you can still fall on hard times.
So I ask you to consider this the next time a homeless person comes to you in need. Because maybe you'll one day find yourself in an unfortunate situation, just as these people have. I can only hope that should this happen, the kindness you have paid to others is returned to you.
What are your thoughts on getting more involved in volunteering? Where is your favorite place to volunteer?