I’ve been skint. I spent nigh on a year and a half living off the land almost entirely; wild brown trout, dandelion leaves, watercress, venison, brambles and blaeberries….. it was a sparse old place for that too – open hill at 1000ft. It taught me that I could survive on what nature provides, with good use of the brain and a healthy dose of cunning and guile…but most importantly, it assured me that I could live on very little money, if life threw apples at my head, contrary to all the teaching, training and brainwashing I had received previously. Invaluable. I have also spent time in a number of “developing” countries and been humbled by the sheer ingenuity of living, and in many cases, basic survival.
You can imagine my disbelief when, watching television (a rare occasion) one evening, I stumbled across a documentary on food banks in this country and how desperately poor and hungry everyone is. This in itself is not the issue. I mean, it is a big concern but it is not my chagrin from this particular broadcast. Many people, for all sorts of reasons in and out of their control, get in a muddle – I did during the worst of my chronic Lyme, hence the foraging & hunting life. It is fantastic that there are such services, offering somewhere to turn for those most in need.
However, there was a woman being profiled on this programme who was dressed immaculately in valuable clothes with the full set of gold jewellery plus extras. I’m not sure if the irony was intended but they proceeded to let her whinge on and on about how poor and deprived she was and how she “can’t afford to feed her children”…..whilst standing in front of the largest television I have ever seen. She was in her “dining room”, leaning on a, not cheap, large dining table and chair set, surrounded by trinkets, vases and designer tat. As a trader, I did a rough sum in my head and she could have fed her children for a wee while on the resale value of her ‘stuff’. As the camera poignantly followed her ‘nearly-new, immaculate condition’, people-carrier, I genuinely questioned for a moment whether this was a new dark comedy as opposed to a bona fide documentary.
This may be harsh, and who am I to judge really, I haven’t walked a mile in her shoes but I just felt she was taking the piss. Pure and simple. I understand sentimentality with possessions, but it’s not as if her late father had whittled the tv from the biggest tree in his garden or anything! Even if you allow her the jewellery on personal reasons, it doesn’t excuse most of what I saw. Priorities girl!
I felt ashamed watching this farce. I felt that this perfectly fit and healthy woman had decided that she had found an easy option in order to not lose all her pretty but pointless stuff. It seemed that for her, it was quite embarrassing to go to a food bank…..but not as bad as losing her image and desire-related stuff. Keeping up appearances, or with the Jones, in place of providing the important fundamentals to your children is wacko. Maybe it wasn’t a conscious choice and maybe she isn’t equipped but that isn’t an excuse for a situation to languish.
I understand pride but at what point do we give people a little harsh but fair constructive criticism, stop treating with kid gloves and offer a heavy dose of reality. To teach someone the skills they require to rely on themselves and support a family when they can and should, may make them feel uncomfortable for a short while but the overwhelmingly positive benefits would spread like ripples. There is a real crisis in certain parts of the country and misplaced priorities are quite a lot to blame for that. Apparently there are kids in abject poverty and yet it is rare, even in the most deprived areas, to see one without a phone, newish trainers and trendy gear (sweeping generalisation I know…but then is it really that sweeping?) I feel that people with similar circumstances to this woman I’ve mentioned, ie. not quite living in reality, should be identified and kindly educated. They are taking food and depriving someone in real need. We seriously need to get our priorities straight, en masse, and fast.
Wants and Needs are funny things.
Through my experiences, I’ve learned that I need water, food, shelter, warmth and someone to have a laugh with. I think I pretty much need a dog now too, there is a reason that humans have had them by their sides for so long. I know folk, though, who are so busy needing everything in the shop that they are forsaking their basic requirements. People with Ipads, new cars, flashy holidays, eating crap, ill-advised food to pay for shiny things. I know it’s a bore but you really are what you eat, thus if you eat crap or cheap, then so be it. Having said that, by the same rules, if you eat rich and expensive food all the time that is costly to body and wallet. Don’t say you weren’t warned. Try healthy, fresh and tantalisingly tasty – it works! *grinning*
We all spout so many proverbs and adages and stereotypes and quotes, and yet we never heed any of their wisdom.
Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves: folk sneer at small change…. I know that small change can make a big change, and my coppers collection (one pence and two pence pieces) has fed me on more than one occasion.
Put something away for the hard times: We are all paying the price for nobody heeding this shrewd advice. The bankers might be crooks but the folk who went along with it without a second thought were chancers. They helped gamble away our financial security with bad personal decisions and the whimsical priorities that go with perceived wealth. Spend spend spend…… whinge whinge whinge. It’s balance guys, if you have it all then you will inevitably have a period of scarcity to equalize.
and so on…
Where did this swathe of lacklustre, spoilt, un-empowered people rise from? One generation, that of my grandparents, is stalwart in the face of adversity, tough as old boots and self-sufficient as they come…. they can subsist on dry biscuits from 20 years ago, and positively thrive on a diet of reuse, recycle, make do and mend……and then suddenly along comes a generation that, literally, can’t function. Can’t cope, can’t manage, can’t fend for themselves.
Needs are basic; water, food, shelter, warmth…
Wants are not; soft drinks & hard liquor, takeaway food, tv & designer interiors, central heating…
Requires are important for modern life but not essential; money, mobile phone, internet, suitable clothing
…and Desires are purely indulgent. Long let them remain so – what is desirable about something you don’t serve time anticipating, dreaming about……and sometimes, never get. Often the desire has more value than the desired itself.
I’ve found that… If I focus on my needs and much reduce my wants…… I can afford my requires and aim for my desires.
Interestingly though, many of my desires turn out to be related to meeting my needs; fresh air, walking, chopping carrying and stacking wood, lighting the fire, growing my food etc.
All of these allow me to spend more time with those I require and desire which is certainly a universal want but could really be accepted as a basic human need.