Two posts going up today, I hope – that’s what happens when you leave it too long between posts – too many ideas mulling over at the back of my mind!
I followed a link last week & read about a family in the States who are managing to live on what looks like to us a very low income. More power to their elbows; none of it seemed exactly revolutionary to me, as somehow we’ve managed to raise 5 kids and pay off our mortgage on one fairly ordinary salary & the little part-time jobs I’ve managed to hold down between ferrying assorted offspring around. But what did stop me in my tracks were some of the comments underneath… you would think this unfortunate couple were condemning their kids to a living hell by buying them “thrift store” (i.e. charity shop) clothes, giving them home-made food, and, crime of all crimes, making some of their clothes!
Several comments were along the lines that, by making them “different” from other kids, they were bound to be making them targets for bullying. Well, excuse me, but the basic fact is that everyone IS different! And it isn’t being different, in itself, that lays people open to bullying – which isn’t confined to kids, by the way – it’s feeling bad about those differences. Feeling somehow ashamed of them, which you might well if people make negative comments about them, and thus not reacting with vigour when the bullies start to pull you down… and anyone who stands by and mutters words to the effect that they brought it on themselves, or that they blame the parents, is legitimising bullying and making it far, far worse for the victim. Is a bully themself, in fact, by allowing it to happen & by making excuses for vile behaviour. Are we no better than the chickens in my chicken run, that we seek to bring down anyone who stands out in any way, in case they attract unwanted attention to our flock? Or should we finally realise that there is indeed strength in diversity, and make the bullies stop, rather than giving them tacit approval?
We are rapidly entering a time when it simply will not be possible for everyone to wear “new” clothes all of the time, as fuel becomes too expensive for t-shirts made by child slaves on the other side of the world to be sold for pennies any more, and thrown away after a couple of uses because they won’t wash well. Where home-made food may once again become “the norm” rather than an oddity, if only because people don’t want to find they’ve been eating something other than what it says on the packet. Where accruing debt just because everyone else is doing it, just to have what everyone else has got, may come to seem rather stupid. It’s more than possible that the family featured in that article are actually ahead of the curve, rather than the eccentric oddballs some of the commentators seem to think they are. Those kids may grow up with attitudes and a skill-set that will allow them to break free of the wage-slave-debt trap.
By the way, I am asserting that everyone is different as the wife of an identical twin. Yes, they look very alike, enough alike that our neighbours regularly talk to my brother-in-law without realising he’s not my husband. And no, they are not at all the same…! And I am making a point about home-made clothes because it is entirely possible to make clothing (and other things) that is good enough for other people to want so much that they’ll actually buy it, with nothing more than an old sewing machine, some cast-off old clothing or curtains or similar, the odd old book or magazine (Golden Hands, for example!) and a head full of ideas. If my pillowcase pinnies, scrap-yarn shawls and denim aprons haven’t convinced you, have a look at Raggedy’s site.
And please, help those who haven’t realised this yet get over the idea that everyone has to look the same, buy the same things, think the same things, and that anyone (and their kids) who doesn’t live according to their narrow worldview is fair game for negative comments and worse…