So I just interviewed three people in a row about food insecurity (See transcripts 2, 3, 4, to be posted at a later date). One man, his girlfriend (debatable?), and her dad. I'm not sure if the girlfriend was a girlfriend, since he called her his girlfriend but she called him her roommate in the the interviews. Here were stories about kidney failures, medical problems generally, and being so bored that you spend your efforts on thinking of ways to kill time in your life. And yet, in comparisons to other interviewers, I was not emotionally moved by these stories. Sometimes that makes me feel soulless, not because I think anything is wrong with me, but because I feel like others must think there is something wrong with me for being such a dispassionate person. Maybe it's because in some ways I don't relate at all, even though in some ways I do understand.
For example, I understood the boredom of the participant who would rather pay for cable and eat less than pay for more food, because a full belly can seem rather pointless if you have nothing to do in your life, if you've ever been so bored that you wish nothing more than to will the hours away so that night comes sooner and you can sleep, having checked off another day. I do think that is sad that anyone would give up on life and have no desire to change his life in any way. Partly that's because I think life should be about living, about progress, about learning and experiencing new things, so that it's never too late to start a new activity, even if it is just learning to read.
I understood too, where a participant was coming from when he talked about wanting us all to be happy, and how we should be able to focus on the desires of our lives rather than stressing out about the needs in our lives, although that is a very liberalist thought, that we should be free to pursue our own versions of the "good life". I also thought the girl had a good head on her shoulders, because she seemed sensitive to the food pantries/gov/other's need to allocate resources in a way that meant she might not get as much as she wanted, and she was okay with that as long as many people had the opportunity to eat.
Doing three in a row highlighted some themes that I saw, including how they all seemed empowered, not in the usual sense, but in the sense that they all seemed to indicate in their own way that their situation was something that they could change, but not something that they had enough desire to WANT to change at the moment. Meaning, I got the impression that they all seemed to indicate some sort of responsibility for remaining (not necessarily starting, or getting into) their position. Now this wasn't the only place anyone placed responsibility, but it was one.
Another theme was transportation. In different interviews lack of transportation was mentioned for not using current services to their fullest. I would think if I had all day to hang out watching t.v., I would have all day to walk 5 miles to the soup kitchen. However, I wouldn't necessarily want to do that everyday, so I can see why they wouldn't be excited about it either, but I guess that's where I start to differ, is that I don't think it should be about "Want". For me, I have this notion, probably from growing up with a lot of rules to follow and a strict schedule at times, that making it in life independently means you make sacrifices, you do things you sometimes don't want to do, because you have to in order to further some other ends. So you have to skip eating out and seeing movies if you want to save up for a car, for example. It's about prioritizing your wants.
Another theme was that many people used all their food options, not JUST stamps, or pantries. I noticed how I could evaluate their decisions based on what I think I would do in that situation, but I just don't ever see myself in that situation. Not because I don't think I'll ever be poor, I'm fairly poor now, but because I believe in karma, in that I believe if I take the opportunity to look out for people now and take care of those in need while I am in a position to do so, then somebody, probably NOT even the same somebodys who I helped, will be there for me when I need it. Between that and church, which no matter where I live there will be a bishop to help me if I need it, prevents me from really thinking "this could be me someday." Before this project, I didn't even know about, other than soup kitchens, what was even able or what to look for should I ever be too poor for food.
Another thing that prevents me from completely putting myself in their shoes is NOT education, but my faith. Christ told his disciples, and I think it applies to all, that the lilies take no thought for the morrow, but are arrayed and taken care of anyways, and that God will likewise take care of those who seek to do His will first. That means that no matter how much or little financial, educational, or other security you have, you will be provided for in ways you can't plan or anticipate. My parents have given me examples from when they were food insecure and newly married, and someone buying extra groceries and dropping them off, without knowing that my parents were out of food or money to buy it for the rest of the month. In my own life in other ways I've seen blessings that could not have been orchestrated by others, because they didn't know about this or that fact, and while it might be called coincidence, it still has worked. Finally, my faith is very specific about the importance of taking care of your body, and for me that includes the importance of eating and exercising. It has taken me years to come to that understanding, but now there have been times where I've felt poor and been tempted to cut out eating more often, and what keeps me from doing that is the recognition that I need to take care of myself, something I never learned from the media, try as they might, but that I did learn from studying my faith.