Friday, March 9, 2012

Dreaming of Hope

I'm feeling conflicted around the discussion of profit in my HSHB course, "where passion meets profit".  We creative types want to be able to generate income with our ideas and talents, and understand that everyone needs income.  Everyone has their own comfort level for lifestyle, supported by their income.  But something, somewhere deep inside me, feels troubled.

I was raised by a father who was a "company man".  He was smart, worked hard, was dedicated, and was rewarded by promotions over the course of his career to the point when he retired with wealth.  His basic feeling is that he earned that money, he deserved it.  And he has continued to profit from investments over time.  (I can't help but view "investments" as "gambling", both of which require education about odds and risk-taking. You win or you lose.  Winners think they're smart and deserve their winnings.  Losers had bad luck and hope for better luck next time.)

In contrast, I am married to a man raised in extreme poverty.  He was smart, but college wasn't even a consideration.  He, too, has that old-fashioned "company man" mentality.  He's worked hard for over 20 years in his field, is extremely dedicated, had a perfect work record and many instances of going above-and-beyond, and was rewarded by a demotion when the corporation took out the middleman (the contractor for whom he worked).   

I'm raising 4 sons who were in their late teens to early 20's when this happened.  My father always thought he was setting such a good example for his grandsons, proving how hard work and dedication pay off.  I asked him when my husband lost his position how he could justify or explain this to his grandsons.  I asked him how you can inspire someone to work so hard, make those sacrifices to achieve a position you can be proud of when this is the reward.  He, of course, had no answer.

This isn't the view I wanted my sons to have of the future, but there it is.  When we were discussing CEO multi-million dollar salaries, my father said those people earned their salaries.  Really?  I know he is justifying his own wealth.  The corporate side of the economy appears so out of whack to the 99% that it's hard to get our heads around.  Huge rewards in spite of huge losses.  Demotions for the little guys at the top of their pay scales to "trim the fat".....trimming self-esteem and aspirations in the meantime. 

My son with Down Syndrome lives and works at a not-for-profit organization in a nearby town.  This place so so wonderful, so caring, so compassionate and we feel so blessed to have Dean there.  Our state (Illinois), run by the same mentality of folk who run (other) corporations, has so much red ink in their books they've run out of red ink.  Trim fat they must----and my son's place of work and residence had ALL their grants taken away.  Now, of course, there will be lots of money for who knows what kind of waste.  But these innocents....without a choice as to their conditions,  without a voice to scream with, without the money for lobbyists.....they are an easy hit.  And they have been hit.

Dean's rent had to go up.  We are grateful because he still has his home with friends and staff and activities. But now the rent takes every bit of his social security check.  His rent includes a food allowance, but doesn't include toiletries, personal expenses, medical expenses, activities (Special Olympics bowling nights, monthly movie nights, etc.)  He works in a training facility, aspiring to a minimum wage job in the community.  His last 2-week paycheck was $43.  

I dreamed for better things for Dean.  And I'm hoping my poem about him, "I Dreamed", will generate some income to help him and Illinois Valley Industries.  I plan to create cards with this poem on them which  I think would be so nice for new parents.  I hope larger prints and posters could be framed in homes, hospitals, schools and other institutions to remind everyone that we can have our dreams AND be blessed with the unexpected.  

I'm troubled with senses of entitlement and justification for extreme wealth and materialism.  I also know that people like my son are entitled to a good, comfortable life.  And parents who think their dreams have been shattered are entitled to comfort and hope.  I'm hoping this poem, which I've always considered to be a gift to me, will be a gift to those who need it most.  I hoping, and dreaming, that "I Dreamed" will be a bridge of hope and support between souls in need.


Elizabeth GLz said...

Love it! I don't read blogs often because my spare time is too short but it attracted me and I loved what I read. It reminds me and my money conflict, too. Thanks for this great post!

Elizabeth GLz said...

Love it! I don't read blogs often because my spare time is too short but it attracted me and I loved what I read. It reminds me and my money conflict, too. Thanks for this great post!