Saturday, March 26, 2011

My husband is a "99er" one of those people who's been unemployed for more than 99 weeks and so is no longer able to recieve benefits. I'm underemployed. We've both been looking for full-time employment since he lost his job over two years ago.

On facebook there are lots of members who are 99ers who are trying to support each other during these incredibly difficult times and they've formed a number of different "99er" groups. I joined one of the groups, "99ers United", and the administrator for that group is very active constantly posting "99er" related news links. Needless to say his commentary on these links can tend towards the cynical, even bitter, as do those of many who comment on the stories. One day I'd just grown tired of the bitterness and the depressing nature of all of the stories he'd been posting and declared that I was tired of the "99ers United" page because I didn't find the contents of the page uplifting or encouraging. I stated that I was tired of the bitterness and was "unliking" the page.

Well, I sure got some comments in response. A couple comments, one from one of my friends, were supportive of what I'd said; one was more peacemaking in its nature and two of the comments were from people who really let me have it.

They let me know in no uncertain terms that all the "99ers" had a right to their anger and bitterness. I felt stung and blamed for being honest about my own feelings. But they both expressed themselves and the plight of the "99ers" so eloquently and in such a manner as to really touch me and cause me to feel sorry for the accusing tone of my post. In a sense I was blaming the victims for the anger, bitterness and despair that was and is completely understandable. Many of these people, including the two women who responded angrily to me, had long since lost their homes to foreclosure. One of the women, to whom I've since, ironically, become fb friends, went from having a $50,000 a year job and her own home, to living in an apartment and working for a time in temp positions which dried up over time, to now living with her mother and doing freelance content writing jobs for websites. People have lost their homes, used up savings and retirement benefits, sold possessions all just to get by. There are many who are now homeless.

Needless to say these kinds of stories scare the crap out of me, for myself and my family. We, thankfully, are not to that point, yet. We still have resources to exhaust, retirement benefits to cash in and utilize and family that I'm certain would take us in and provide us shelter if need be. But it scares and angers me that we could get to that point.

Then I had an epiphany. I feel that most people who have jobs do not want to see or hear or in any way be reminded of the millions who are out of work and can't find work or can't find work that pays them anything near what they need to keep them at a level of lifestyle even close to where they used to be. They don't want to see us, because they know, someplace inside themselves, that they could become one of us. And I realized that I, like them, don't want to be reminded of the many who are worse off than my family is, homes lost, possessions sold, because I an my family could end up there as well.

How could I be angry at those fortunate enough to have gainful employment, if I myself am unwilling to see and stay connected to, those who are worse off than my family and I are. So I've rejoined "99ers United". I don't need to read every post from them that appears on my fb page. But I do need to stay connected to these folks and not turn away from their reality, especially if I expect others, who are employed and doing ok, to not turn away from mine.

It's fear that makes us turn away or stick our heads in the sand and that fear is understandable. But we have to somehow find some way to channel that fear and the anger and bitterness into a constructive response to this situation. I really think our recovery from this recession and maybe our survival as a country depends on it.

How we do that though, remains to be seen. Ideas anyone?

1 comment:

excavator said...

Perhaps you're doing it already, in coming together to give each other support. I suppose expression of bitterness, and anger, and fear in a safe place is a first step toward channelling that into the constructive solution. It sounds like you were beginning to be ready to move beyond anger and bitterness and felt that an original purpose of the group had gotten sidetracked, or stuck?

I admire your presence of mind that allowed you to have your insight. That, and your genuine posture of kindness.

But then, that's what attracted me to you in the first place.

Wishing you, and all the 99ers, the opportunity to do what you leave to do--and get paid for it!