Sunday, 29 October 2017

Why don't we get out more?

I am often asked the question: "Why don't you get out more?"

I get asked why I don't get out more and relax, get away from all the intense poverty issue stuff I deal with and work on weekly. My low-income, impoverished peers have shared that they are asked similar questions and even TOLD BY counselors and support people - to go out of the house for self-care, spend a little money on self once in a while, etc.

The problem is, for some of us, there is ZERO money to spend on self-care - ZERO. And for others, I'd just like to inform well-meaning persons that it just might be that some low income people don't actually GET AWAY at all from the intense, poverty issue stuff at the end of the week or over the weekends. This isn't a choice for many who live low income lifestyles - heck, even calling this a lifestyle provides a false notion of choice, eh?

Some peoples' weekends are WORSE than the week days because NO HELP is around on weekends; AISH workers, Social Services personnel, many Mental Health workers are taking the weekends off...

Why don't we (individuals with low and below poverty incomes) get out more?

Well - mainly 'cos we're also sometimes VERY CONTENT to go home and be home and have a roof over our heads. Often we're happy for a couple of days over the weekend where, if we can avoid any financial or housing crises for roughly 48-72 hours, we can avoid the multitude of misunderstandings people voice about how we live or what we can and should improve in our lives.

It's so very, VERY hard to take the advice seriously that many of us (individuals on low incomes) receive from well meaning people. It's just time to write about it instead of continuing to agree then make up some shytty "possible activity" I'll do over the weekend to make some agency person, support person, or "supportive friend" feel they've done their job of support... when really, I'm going home for the weekend to do whatever self-care costs nothing.

Seriously - I'm here to clarify - since the above two paragraphs seem quite negative... Sometimes we're not sad and miserable all weekend long because we can't go to the game, the movies, shopping, and on mini-getaway trips away from the city, etc. For some low income people, the weekends are a PLEASANT getaway from prying eyes and privileged "planners" of our time and (ghost) finances. Sometimes, we're (low-income survivors) used to living on "just needs" items and within less than our means, so weekends are much needed times of rest and regeneration.  Isn't that enough? Isn't that taking care of myself?

I'd like to ask others - why don't you stay IN more? Save some money, stop all spending, rest and take care of yourself? What would THAT look like for you and would you honestly suffer if you don't get to go off to Banff or the West Ed' Mall for a weekend? Will your nails fall OFF if you don't get a hundred dollar manicure?

Why have certain kinds of spending and activities become the "norm" for self care when, really, these spends and activities aren't universal at all? They're only for those who can afford them? Why does self care cost at all - it shouldn't cost money to rest and look after yourself...

Just sayin'...

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Why Do Human Rights Matter In The Pursuit To End Poverty?

This question has been posed as the last assignment question in an online course I'm just finishing on Social and Economic Rights. The course is through Canada Without Poverty. The question is tough and I've seen it posted for a few days; I've had a while to think about it and still have to edit while typing to get my response to mean something tangible and sensible.

Strangely, course participants were asked to just submit a few lines in response to this question - and I can't imagine ONLY giving a few lines of text in answering, so I'm doing a blog post and we'll just see how many lines I fit in!


Human Rights matter in the pursuit to end poverty because other marginalized groups have raised up out of marginalization (maybe not totally yet, but as works in progress) while the poor have sunk to the bottom of the pool as if they're the new hysterical women, the new black slaves, the outsiders with no rights. Women, Blacks, many other outsider groups (LGBTQ-AS2S) have gained or are gaining rights, equality, and dignity - while those in poverty seem to have fewer access lines to respect, dignity, economic, social and human rights implementation. When treated more equally, Women, persons of non-Caucasion ethnicity, LGBTQ-AS2S and other previously marginalized groups and persons can start to elevate themselves out of poverty. With equal jobs, pay, access to services and needs, increased participation in society, many groups and persons experiencing realization and acknowledgement of and also proper implementation of their human rights hold the power to self determine many more facets of their lives.

Human Rights also matter in the pursuit to end poverty because poverty is more about how humans perceive of one another and how humans treat each other than about economics. Humans ultimately control the perceptions of and workings of the social structure of economy, so it's a bunch of damn BUNK, in my opinion and experience, that poverty in ingrained within the economic system and caused by economics. If we were to care more about human beings than dollars and materials related to status, then we would have less poverty, for when people do care about each other, we tend to work together to alleviate suffering and hardship. We are SOCIAL creatures, not economic creatures.

Human Rights matter in the pursuit to end poverty because almost nobody disagrees with the basics of human rights. The implementation of and advocacy leading to human rights for every person is an issue. Though many people argue about economics, charity-model assistance, government assistance, etc., almost nobody runs around saying "Human Rights aren't important." I think a general population just doesn't know how implementation of human rights works. I'm having to learn and I still don't know exactly how everything works with human rights and implementation of rights, but I'm still here learning and am not going to quit trying to assert that human rights are important. I happen to be IN the group of impoverished citizens whose lives are complicated by UNNECESSARY MAN-MADE POVERTY! There's a lot at stake for me - so I'm going to continue to "come at poverty" and fight against poverty issues from a human rights approach.

Lastly, I believe Human Rights matter in the pursuit to end poverty because we're all human, we all need other humans, and documents have existed for a very long time to prove that humans have known all of this stuff for a great while. Ulitmately, there are human right documents and agreements proving that ages ago, people realized that we are better working together than being at war, harming one another. At some point now, each one of us needs to get involved here... we have to share and get real about treating some people better than others and treating some people with horrendous callousness or worse - completely ignoring some people to the detriment of their well-being. And we have to stop the wrong behaviours, make corrections, turn to the laws that exist for these purposes.

Powerfully worded laws and Human Rights documents already exist and have existed for many years. Human Rights considerations aren't at all new and have been important enough for decades and hundreds of years that dozens of legal documents, agreements between numbers of countries world wide, treaties, and covenants exist. Human Rights aren't a new, trendy topic... so now, with all this documentation in existence, we need to figure out how to allow every human to access the documents, understand the documents and know how to implement the agreements, treaties, covenants and promises inside - or bring correction about when the agreements are not honoured.

To summarize, Human Rights matter in the pursuit to end poverty because:
  • when humans have more equal treatment, they solve many of their own poverty issues
  • poverty isn't an economic issue, it's a human perception issue, so if people are more human and humane to each other, less poverty will happen among friends, neighbours, associates who care about fellow human beings
  • other approaches to end poverty have failed/are failing and nobody really disagrees that human rights are important, so let's focus on implementing human rights
  • human rights, not new and trendy as a topic - there is heavy documentation, treaties, agreements, covenants, etc., already out there in stacks, so governments, public, experts and grassroots have all known human rights are important, complicated, and work has been done in this area for years and years and years and years! Time to implement, honour treaties, agreements, etc

............and for me, there are more reasons why human rights matter in the pursuit to end poverty, but I think I've summed up the ghist of things already.

Probably any other points require a separate blog post - like if I were to deal with the topic of how human rights implementation might impact and remove high Food Bank usage and use of hampers that have sub-standard nutrition. This could happen because if many moms were given equal pay to male counterparts in job environments, many moms wouldn't be feeding their children food bank items; they'd be able to afford food from markets and stores.

Yes, that last bit probably requires a new space of its own!

I'm sure others will think of their own reasons why human rights matter in the pursuit to end poverty. Feel free to comment!

And I'll leave you with a feel-good vid that has a cool message about helping others just because...

Kindness Boomerang



Saturday, 15 July 2017

Learning About Human Rights

I'm doing an online course on Economic and Social Rights which fall under the umbrella of Human Rights. The course is designed by and with content from Canada Without Poverty.

Canada Without Poverty is a non-profit striving to eliminate poverty and to educate people about the connections between human rights and poverty. With a head office in Ottawa, Canada, CWP has board members with lived experiences of poverty who focus on the message that poverty is a VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS and the ways in which this violation of rights can be corrected and stopped.

The first thing I'll say about learning about Economic and Social Rights and general Human Rights is that - these are complicated, even complex. There are ever-so-many Human Rights documents out there, both for Canada and for International focus, and delving into the text material is more than slightly unpleasant unless you are a word geek and brave reading fanatic.

Don't go unarmed into these documents - take a dictionary, pen, paper, and a huge vat of coffee or tea with you.

(image SOURCe)

For the first time in a long time, I can understand where Acronyms MIGHT be useful, for many of the documents have such LONG titles and specifics in titles, that learning to pinpoint a document as per acronym can save a LOT of time. As yet, I'm still learning the acronyms but they're not more confusing than the actual titles of documents, believe it or not!

I'm at the very beginning of the course and already I have changed my mind about what Human Rights are; my concepts have changed and my attitude has changed. This is not knowledge to be loosly, quickly, or marginally acquired, filed away and referred to randomly.

I don't think a person is going to be able to remember this stuff without actually reading EVERY damn LINE of each and every document in the course (including what the friggin' comma and punctuation means to the context, geeze) - this isn't going to be like a module of an English or History class where you can find some movie or documentary version of a book or play title and check out a cheat sheet online about this stuff.

I spent fifteen minutes actually getting PISSED off at all the tools I had to pull out already during my first hour of study - notebook, pens, Internet browser - e-Dictionary, Index cards (word hoard list)... and then my attitude started to shift when I got ticked off and checked the CWP website to see who the HELL put all this stuff together and made this so complicated!!!

(image SOURCE)

I re-read that CWP is partly composed of persons with lived experiences of poverty. This is a bonus, in my books. Then I remembered meeting The Rapporteur for Canada, Leilani Farha (a founder of CWP) and her co-facilitator, Michele Biss - who taught a Human Rights course I attended in June at Ambrose University/Poverty Institute and my learning from that course started to catch up with me... and then it hit me as to why this stuff is so hard to get started in...


And why shouldn't Human Rights, Social and Economic Rights be very, extremely and terrifically complicated! These are rights of many sorts that pertain to diverse populations, peoples and social groups from varied areas of the world. In Canada alone, the terrain, geography, and peoples and the connected complexities are beyond the scope of most people around the world or from people in smaller countries where the climate roughly stays the same for an entire population in one day.

In Canada, we can have sun, rain, hail, snow, across the entire country in the same day - heck, in the same hour - and in this one country, we have several time zones... so why shouldn't Human Rights be totally complex and require dedicated concentration and effort to learn about? People and groups of people are complex, so their specifics of needs and rights are going to be equally as intricate and complex.

Dang! I need to go find more paper and pens - I can't learn this stuff just from reading the documents on screen.

Damn you, Human Rights - you're going to take up a lot of ink!