Some years ago the principal of our school took a group of us teachers who were also department heads and curriculum coordinators to a conference in Baltimore which was about an hour’s drive away.
She got a “great deal” on a hotel which was “undergoing renovation” and within “walking distance” of the conference. We were dropped off by school bus to keep costs down further. Conference sessions were in the “Inner Harbor,” the city’s reconstruction of their waterfront.
We realized why the price was so cheap immediately on arrival, especially when the clerk at the front desk informed us that the Inner Harbor was to the right as we exited the hotel. “NEVER walk to the left!”
The reaction of my colleagues was varied. My roommate, the art teacher, loved the old building and kept pointing out everything from the unique ceilings to the doorknobs. The history teacher immediately called her husband to come get her.
This memory was prompted by my recent blog about the food stamp program and our opinions about recipients.
The hotel was occupied by large numbers of women with children. They had been displaced from their low cost apartments by the urban renewal of the area around the Inner Harbor.
In one room I observed several children sitting on a bed with a large bag of potato chips while watching TV. Ten days ago, after my granddaughter’s accident, that’s exactly what I was doing – comforting myself with mindless TV and potato chips (the entire can of Pringles). From what I’ve read here on SP I’m not alone in that type of reaction to a difficult situation.
What if my temporary situation looked permanent like that of the mothers in the hotel?
What if nutritious, fresh food weren’t easily available? There wasn’t much outside.
I’ve noticed that attitudes toward the obese mirror attitudes toward those in poverty.
People don’t want their tax dollars going to the “undeserving” and I’ve heard complaints about medical costs being driven up by the increase in obesity.
I have no idea if the mothers in the hotel were lazy or unintelligent or didn’t care about their children. Sadly, I know that obese people are often characterized as both lazy and stupid just like welfare or food stamp recipients.
SOME in BOTH groups DO have those characteristics, but we know from SP that those epithets do NOT apply to most. Personal struggles with obesity are well documented here. Are not the personal struggles to climb out and stay out of poverty similarly difficult? Assorted addictions complicate the problem further.
Of course, SOME people in BOTH groups are able to change their situation. Those stories are often publicized and held up as examples for all. That’s as it should be. We need inspiration. However, even as we applaud success, especially of the biggest losers and longest maintainers among us, the stories of yo-yo-ing” continue.
Why don’t “THEY” make better choices? That question has been asked about both groups. Here on SP we have shared our difficulties in making the right choices over time. Is there a parallel with those living in poverty?
I hope we can find some solution so that all children are able to eat healthy food regardless of the family they happen to be born into. They don’t get to choose their parents.