Interesting? Why weak and not poor? The real answer is that this was God’s idea not mine. Or rather this is what I thought He told me to use. But why use weak rather than poor?
One thing that strikes me is that poor has more of a connotation of disdain. You know the poor are those who are written off, put to one side or are not worth helping. They are the ones who could have made a better life for themselves if only they had got their act together and done something to escape their circumstances.
They are the ones who were punished by being forced to go into the 19th century workhouse where conditions were little better than jail. Men in one part of the workhouse and women in another so husbands and wives never saw each other. This plus strict rations and hard work meant the workhouse was somewhere to be feared.
Anyway who are “the poor”?
Then of course there is the other idea of who says where the poverty line is. Where is this line that says those above it have enough and those below it don’t? After all what is enough?
Just think about diet. For some enough would mean not going hungry because they were able fill their stomachs with potatoes bread or other starchy food. For others it would mean being able to eat a wider range of foods including green vegetables like kale and other so-called super foods that are supposed to promote good health.
It is a case you tell me what the standards should be and I will tell you if I meet them. Some people look back at their childhood and only then realise that by their current standards they were part of poor families. Others come into contact with different cultures and recognise that there are different standards in different places. Until they have something to make comparisons with they simply do not realise that they could be considered poor, or even rich.
Being weak is different
Part of my background is that I lived in what by UK standards is a larger than average house. I remember someone looking at it from a distance and saying which part is yours. From the outside that one house looked like two together. What we in the UK call a semi-detached. That does not sound like being poor does it?
However life was hard and I was too weak to cope with the situation I found myself in. The major issue was that life had not always been easy for those of us who lived in that house and we all moved in as imperfect people. That is being extremely generous as some of those imperfections were classified as mental health problems.
I can remember reaching out to people for help and them struggling to believe the account of what I was trying to cope with. Now I am out of that situation I struggle to understand how I managed to survive in it. Life was a huge challenge and I was not strong enough to cope with a challenge of that magnitude. To be honest I would be surprised if anyone could.
The last thing I would have called myself was poor. I knew I was weak because I was struggling to face the challenges that life was presenting me with. Yes those challenges did make it hard to make ends meet financially but that was because of the extra costs that those challenges created. Looking back those challenges were often a hindrance when it came to earning money which did not make life any easier.
There were times when our household was able to claim government assistance on the grounds of low income. Unemployment Benefit, or Jobseekers Allowance as it become, was a lifeline at times. There was even a 3 month period when due to a badly written insurance policy we did not even have that. Thankfully we had some savings we could draw on and that plus family support enabled us to survive on £10 a week child benefit. BTW that child benefit was enough to buy food for 2 or 3 days a week and nothing else.
Even then the idea of being poor did not resonate with me. Weak yes. Struggling yes. But poor well I did not see myself as poor. That was someone’s else’s definition of me it was not how I saw myself.
That is why the idea of helping the weak makes so much more sense to me than helping the poor.
What is it that speaks to you about this tag line? Leave a comment below.