Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Don't call us poor... things?

There is (was?) a series on CNA on low income families, how they cope, how they are being helped, and the title of the series is, "Don't Call Us Poor".


I understand that from an informative and public education point of view, the series is commendable. I hear good things about it.

[As an aside, I haven't watched the series because I don't have a TV. Does that make me poor? Well, don't call me poor!]

But what's with the title of the series?

Are the titles below all implying a certain perspective or are there any differences?

1 "Don't call us Disabled"

2 "Don't call us Retarded"

3 "Don't call us Stupid"

4 "Don't call us Ah Bengs/Ah Lians"

5 "Don't call us Elites"

6 "Don't call us Lazy/Skivers/Shirkers/Slackers"

7 "Don't call us Poor"

8 "Don't call me 'Shirley'."

Perhaps the title was inspired by Anton Casey?

Remember him? The Ang Mo who "insulted" Singaporeans by calling people who had to take public transport "Poor"?

And how we were insulted because secretly we also believe that being poor was some moral defect or failure on our part?

[Side note. I do not know Anton Casey, but I think he might have been wronged. Now I could be wrong and he might indeed be an arrogant bastard who looks down on the poor. BUT, based on what he wrote, I suspect he was being cheeky. Sarcastic. Spoofy. Parodying an entitled ang mo. Of course I COULD be wrong because I don't know him. BUT it doesn't matter. ]

If you grew up in a poor family, does that reflect badly on you? That you should somehow be ashamed of your poor background? That you should be ashamed of your poor parents who could not provide better for you? That your parents are bad, sad, immoral persons who were probably too lazy or too stupid to be rich? Or at least richer? Or not so poor?

And if you are poor in your adulthood, why? Are you a bad, lazy slacker who won't work hard, who didn't try hard, and who just expects the world to be handed to you on a platter?

If you are, you should be ashamed - for being a lazy entitled slacker. Not for being poor.

There are people who are poor not because of the lack of ability or the willingness to work hard. Some work at two jobs to make ends meet. Or to provide the best they can for their children. Or to give their children opportunities they did not have or could not have or would not have.

And yes, they are ashamed. They are ashamed of being poor not simply because they are poor, but because their poverty constrains their ability to provide for their children, and they worry that their inability to provide may disadvantaged or embarrass their children.

But if the children had any brains, any EQ, they would recognise the sacrifices that their parents have made and appreciate it.

And if the title were short for, "Don't call us poor. We may not have much, materially, but we have strength in our family, love for each other, care and concern for our family, and that makes us richer than that toddler with an iPad in the Graco stroller sitting outside McDonald waiting for his parents to serve him fries while he ignores them and plays with Angry Birds", I would agree.

But I seriously doubt if that is the full title.

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