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Marissa Lingen

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Being imperfect, together [Feb. 11th, 2014|01:13 pm]
Marissa Lingen
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In my internet wanderings, I ran into this open letter to lung cancer patients who smoked. And…I feel pretty strongly this way. I run into obits sometimes where they specify that someone died of lung cancer even though they never smoked, and I think to myself, because if they had, their families wouldn’t have permission to grieve? My grandpa smoked, back in the day, and he quit before I was born, but his COPD contributed to his death. He didn’t have to earn my grief with perfect lung-related behavior. He didn’t even have to earn my grief with perfect Grandpaing. Not a one of us is perfect. Not a one, though some of us are amazing. Sometimes we get a chance to do better. We try our best, except sometimes we don’t. We try our best at the things we can manage. Except sometimes we don’t. And we love each other anyway. And then we’re gone, and we’re allowed to grieve. We don’t have to justify our grief with righteousness.

I get upset about this in the fundraising letters from the charities I support. Habitat for Humanity sends me these letters about these families in trouble, all the good choices they’ve made and how they’re in trouble anyway, the virtuous poor, and I think, okay, yes, I believe in those virtuous poor, I believe that happens sometimes, but. But. I also believe in people who didn’t make perfect decisions and still need a place to live. It’s all right to say, “We believe that it’s not okay for people to be homeless.” It’s entirely fine to say, “We are people who think that other people should have a safe warm place to sleep. Is that who you are too? Join us. Be people who think that too. Be those people, together.”


From: sheff_dogs
2014-02-11 10:01 pm (UTC)
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From: dsgood
2014-02-12 12:05 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: laurel
2014-02-12 04:23 am (UTC)
I very much agree with this. I understand the impulse that people and organizations may have to do this, but argh. Do they not think how hurtful or just rude it is? Everyone matters.

Kevin's Dad's life was likely shortened due to his smoking and COPD, but we didn't care any less because of that and his death is no less painful.

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From: athenais
2014-02-12 05:29 am (UTC)
Oh boy, yeah.
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[User Picture]From: elisem
2014-02-12 07:04 am (UTC)
So very yes.
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[User Picture]From: judith_dascoyne
2014-02-12 04:34 pm (UTC)

Bad Things

From what I can see this comes from "Bad things happen to bad people".
Being poor is because someone made a bad choice, right?
IF you follow the "RULES" and never put a foot wrong nothing BAD will ever happen to you.

My father inlaw believed this to his core. It was the core and source of his self rightness.

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[User Picture]From: mrissa
2014-02-13 03:59 am (UTC)

Re: Bad Things

The Just Universe Hypothesis may be responsible for more social and interpersonal harm than anything else I know.

It may not; these things are hard to measure. But it's certainly responsible for a lot.
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[User Picture]From: redbird
2014-02-13 03:20 am (UTC)
well said. i suspect that one of the reasons that so many people think it makes sense to help only the "virtuous poor" is that it makes the perceived problem more manageable, because that sort of judgment means there are fewer homes to build, people to feed, and so on.

we are all imperfect, and i do tend to help those i think of as "my people" first--but that means things like helping my friends, or donating to a local food bank instead of a national organization. It doesn't mean wanting the food bank to make people prove they "deserve" to eat today.
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