Thursday, May 21, 2015

Ironwood Rhubarb #3

There Is No Noble Purpose, Only Noble Thought or Deed
(by Jkatian)

A few years ago while we were starving I got to thinking. I had decided years before that my life was ok to sacrifice to save my children. They would be worse off without me but if I could stay alive they would have a chance. Day after day there was no food for me. I ate nothing. Every third or fourth day I'd manage to get a bowl of oatmeal or something into me. Sometimes I went crazy and consumed everything I could find and didn't tell anyone I hadn't shared. I mostly lived on tea.

I tried to get food stamps but the poverty rate had been dropped so low that the fact that we owned a house disqualified us. I spent a lot of time searching for a cheaper place to live. The rents around us were higher than our mortgage. I tried hard to get a good deal on that house and $1000 a month looked good for a family of four. I never did find another better place.

I came to realize there is no noble purpose, only noble thought or deed. The starvation we were dealing with wasn't noble. There's nothing attractive about martyrdom. If I thought I was only being a martyr I would have divorced me immediately. But I couldn't find such scorn, the facts of our life just then were irrefutable. I could only wait and work to make things better.

In fact I was so sick from hunger that I couldn't work. I barely had enough food in me to stay upright. I dreamed of working, if only I could get enough food in me to have the energy to go find another job.  The economy had cancelled my last one, leading to the downward spiral and catch 22.

Today I still watch our youngest working generation deal with these same facts daily. My daughters are on their own now which finally allows me to eat their share. But just like all the 20 year old's they don't get much food. All the kids try to budget for one small meal a day. Often that does not happen. It's so common for people to go several days without eating anything. The toll on their health is permanent, And for some reason these days the situation seems unavoidable.

I do not feel privileged to have stood on the front lines of scant food causing impossible get to work situations and no work causing scant food. The homelessness looks pretty peachy after starving long enough. We did live inside. That was the point, I fought like hell to keep my teenage daughters off the street. Of course there wasn't enough left over for food.

Every day that I survived and we continued to live inside felt like a victory for me. Except it was an idiotic game. If the world were acting right none of it would have to exist at all. There's no nobility in starvation. No nobility in poverty of any kind. I called us broke, never poor. I dealt with the poverty mentality as a child and have never been willing to be poor since. But I did notice that I didn't go into stores Or if I did I just vaguely looked at other people's stuff. None of it was for me. I kept an obliviousness about all the stuff that was around me. Stores, restaurants, fast food joints, I glossed over it all. It wasn't for me. And so I knew that against my better instinct the poverty mentality lived inside me again. Still no nobility to be found there.

But one day as I stared out the back door I realized that I did have a choice. I always had. I could have kept all the food for myself. I could have eaten a full satisfying meal every day, if I didn't share with the other three. And it wasn't because I wanted to be the one to sacrifice. My husband needed enough food to work full time and have energy for that. That was our support. My daughters were growing teenagers who couldn't afford to share. That was the future. They all got so little already. I had no job. There wasn't enough of anything It was only fair that I get to stay alive if possible. In an unfair system that was the best I could do. And so I saw that thought or deed could be noble. Nobility wasn't my intention. But if that's all any of us have at the extremes then, at least I was noble. I searched all I knew to find any noble purpose ever. Nations, wars, disasters. No. All of these might create noble thoughts or deeds but them will never be a noble purpose. Just another extreme situation that should be bypassed by any sane person.

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