Right in the Centre - The truth is important


By Ken Waddell

The Neepawa Banner

When being bombarded by news events from across the globe, or across the street, it’s important to know the truth.

Last night’s riots in Ferguson, Missouri, showed some truths that are pretty ugly. What we do know is that an 18-year-old boy was killed earlier this year by police. What we don’t know for sure is how much he contributed to the police action. Some say it was a lot, that he was known to police, he was on the run, had committed a robbery, resisted arrest, posed a violent threat to police. I don’t know the truth, but there are a lot of people who have seized the moment.

Some are asking for peace and that’s a good thing. Some are grieving and that’s more than understandable. Some are taking advantage of a tragedy to commit untold violence in the streets. How can a person looting a store possibly contribute to the bettering of a society? Many, many, innocent folks have lost their livelihood due to looting and burning. The looters are crazy people, folks who a have no idea about how to build a better society. In some societies, looters are shot. It must be tempting in Ferguson, Missouri.

The bleeding heart crowd will say the rioting is because the people are being oppressed and they are poor. That is utter crap. There are legitimate cases of people being oppressed  but there are few cases where a person cannot overcome the oppression. Children are sometimes helpless, I get that. But there is little or no excuse for any adult in North America to stay oppressed.

Most North Americans have no idea what real poverty is all about. Most NA people have a roof over their heads, access to clean drinking water, food in their bellies. It’s absolutely disgusting that some people who are depicted by media as being “in poverty” have so much stuff that denies the poverty rating. If you have big screen TV, you are not in poverty. If you are 30, 50 or a 100 pounds overweight, you are not in poverty. You may  be poorly self managed, but you aren’t in poverty.

Poverty in North America is a term that should be reserved for the homeless people who can’t get out of being homeless due to mental or physical health issues. They are our poverty class and they deserve housing and care without any questioning.

Some would say that working in the fast food industry is being in poverty. No doubt it’s tough to make a living working in the fast food industry but for many, the minimum wage jobs are meant as job-entry positions. With a minimum wage job as a base level of income, there’s still 16 hours a day to do something else. Sleep for eight and you still have eight to enhance your income. Enhancing your income may take the form of making the best of what you have for money or it may mean another job.

Some will argue that jobs just aren’t available, I don’t buy that idea. Jobs may not always be available but we have been so brainwashed to “get a job”, that most of our society have never learned how to create a job for themselves or someone else. In the most extreme conditions, in other countries, you see street cleaners and scavengers. You don’t see that here much so the most basic of self-employment isn’t being accessed. Some will say jobs are available on a regional basis and people can’t or won’t move. That’s nonsense as well. My grandfathers came to Canada with little more than the clothes on their back. If  they could cross the ocean and half of Canada, then don’t tell me you can’t get from Oshawa to Fort Mac or from Halifax to Neepawa.

The key is knowing the truth and facing the truth. We will likely never know the real story behind the Ferguson shooting, or the war in Ukraine or the situation in Syria. But not knowing the whole story about some far off story or some far off event doesn’t stop us from acknowledging our truth. That truth is that poverty is rare and even more rarely should it be used as an excuse for any bad behaviour or bad results. The truth is that we should always be willing to help those who can’t help themselves. It may be as simple as holding the door open for an elderly person or as complex as helping a person who is truly in poverty. The only truth we can truly know is the truth that is in front of us.